Grants and Contracts Details


With escalating air traffic (expected to double by 2025), rising oil price and increasing public awareness of the environmental impact, there is, in recent years, a growing demand for novel aeronautical technologies to result in more fuel efficient, lower emission, and quieter air vehicles. Advances in shape memory alloys (SMA) are some of the most promising developments that will enable better, “greener,” and versatile air vehicles. . Due to their unique properties, such as very high actuation strain, stress, and work output through reversible phase transformation, SMAs are one of key technologies for significant reductions in drag and considerable versatility in multi role capability compared to today’s aircrafts with fixed aerodynamic surfaces/structures. SMAs are currently being considered for use in aircraft applications as actuators, vibration dampers, and sensors since they are compact, robust, lightweight, frictionless, quiet, and environmental-friendly (no hydraulic fluids). They also have low aftermarket costs for inspection and maintenance, and high energy density. However, there is an increasing need to develop new alloys with higher transformation temperatures (>100°C) and higher strength to (i) increase their operating frequencies and temperatures, (ii) prevent their premature actuation due to thermal/mechanical changes in environment, (iii) improve their dimensional and thermal stability, and (iv) prolong their fatigue life. In this proposal, the family of Nickel-Titanium-Hafnium (NiTiHf)-based high temperature SMAs will be explored for aerospace applications, in particular, for actuation and aerodynamic surface morphing of unmanned and micro air vehicles. The primary goal of this research is to bridge the gap between the astonishing properties of this intrinsically intelligent class of materials and the challenging requirements of the aerospace industry will be investigated. The main objective is to establish the fundamental understanding on the microstructure, shape memory and mechanical properties of NiTiHf-based SMAs to develop novel alloys with higher operating frequency, temperature range and strength than the currently available SMAs. The feasibility of utilizing the developed alloys to replace the conventional actuators with functional, lightweight and energy efficient ones will be explored. The project will also investigate the high temperature SMAs for functionally morphing aerodynamic surfaces. In this project, an innovative research program with active participation of researchers from academia, industry and NASA will be established to work on the development of new alloys and unique aerospace applications to make significant contributions to the future of aerospace technologies. NASA collaborators from multiple Mission Directorates and NASA Research Centers across the country will work with Kentucky's academic experts and students on SMAs. This project will also contribute to the development of the Nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce of the future by attracting and retaining students in mechanical and materials engineering disciplines and providing them with an opportunity to work closely with scientists of NASA on cutting-edge research areas. The proposed study is directly related to the NASA’s mission of driving advances in science, technology, and exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of Earth. Through the proposed study, NASA will be investing in the nextgeneration technologies for innovation; inspiring students to be the part of the future workforce of the Nation, expanding partnerships between the NASA and academic and industrial researchers of Kentucky; committing to environmental stewardship through the development of green technologies; and developing a critical technology that will make NASA’s exploration, science, and discovery missions more affordable and more capable to guarantee the improvement of the current and future aerospace transportation and defense related applications.
Effective start/end date10/1/119/30/15


  • KY Council on Postsecondary Education: $300,000.00


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