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Hi! I have been hearing a lot about a cool alloy: shape memory alloy. I know it can go back to its original shape when exposed to a certian temperature, but I was wondering, are there any alloys that do the same when exposed to a magnetic, or electro-magnetic field? By the way, how can one make shape memory alloy? Thanks for your help.
Question Date: 2008-08-04
Answer 1:

Yes, there are some materials that exhibit what is called magnetostriction - where applying a magnetic field in certain directions causes large shape changes. The largest changes have been seen. One of the people who has worked most on these materials is Bob O'Handley at MIT. Some materials such as barium titanate exhibit piezoelectricity, which is the generation of electric fields upon shape changes as well as the opposite process - shape changes in response to applied voltage. These are used for very accurate (sub-nanometer!) positioning of scientific instruments, for example.

Answer 2:

Here is a webpage about the Magnetic shape memory alloys

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