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The University of Southampton

Research project: Smart surface: nanoactuators for advanced tribological applications

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Could you imagine a surface changing its topography to improve oil lubrication? Can we tune surface roughness in situ? Is it possible to make such changes in a controllable manner on the nanoscale? Our Ni-Ti(-Cu) thin coatings produced by magnetron sputtering can do that.

Tuneable surface feature on a Ni-Ti-Cu thin film
Tuneable surface feature

Shape memory alloys are well known for their unusual properties namely their ability to recover from apparent plastic deformation on heating (shape memory effect) and their ability at higher temperatures to be able to resist permanent deformation when severely deformed (superelastic effect).

Ni-Ti-based shape memory alloys in the form of thin films thus possess many desirable properties, which means that they are potential candidates for the design of Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS).

This project is aimed at fabricating complex multilayered coatings with the interposition of a superelastic or functional interlayer for tribological applications. Nano-structured Ni-Ti-based thin films are produced by PVD techniques by mean of different sputtering systems. Structural characterization using world-class analytical techniques provides a greater understanding of the shape memory phenomena in these thin films and enables the design of coatings with improved tribological properties.

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