Smart Materials Basics

Some materials have the ability to change shape or size simply by adding a little bit of heat, or to change from a liquid to a solid almost instantly when near a magnet; these materials are called smart materials. They are those materials that posses both intrinsic and extrinsic capabilities to respond environmental changes. They respond to changes in temperature, moisture, pH, magnetic Field, electric field, etc. Today, the cars that are being manufactured abroad have smartness or intelligence build into them. These cars, called smart cars.The incorporation of smart materials makes driving even in difficult climate or weather conditions easy and pleasurable. There are many possibilities for such materials and structures in the man made world. Engineering structures could operate at the very limit of their performance envelopes and to their structural limits without fear of exceeding either. These structures could also give maintenance engineers a full report on performance history, as well as the location of defects, whilst having the ability to counteract unwanted or potentially dangerous conditions such as excessive vibration, and effect self repair.

The advantages of using smart materials include the following

1. Large actuation displacement

2. Large recovery force

3. Variable shapes

4. Usable in clean room environment

5. Noiseless operation

6. Intrinsic sensory capabilities


  • Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    Nice thread velshankar.It was quite interesting thread.If you are free try to give us the details of lastly quoted advantages so that it can clarify our doubt and make your post simple and to the point.Thanks in advance.Also try to give us some car names that uses these smart vehicles.

    Do the cars with weather control system uses these kind of smart materials?
    @ Velshankar M
  • Velshankar MJ
    Velshankar MJ
    Yes smart materials are being used in many cases in automobiles. There are about 200 motorized movable parts on the typical vehicle that could be replaced with lightweight smart materials, GM is looking at significant mass reduction going forward. Shape memory alloys – typically made of copper-aluminum-nickel or nickel-titanium – are smart materials that can change their shape, strength, and/or stiffness when activated by heat, stress, a magnetic field or electrical voltage. Shape memory alloys “remember” their original shape and return to it when de-activated.

    In the new Corvette, a shape memory alloy wire opens the hatch vent whenever the deck lid is opened, using heat from an electrical current in a similar manner to the trunk lights. When activated, the wire contracts and moves a lever arm to open the vent, allowing the trunk lid to close. Once the trunk lid is closed, the electrical current switches off, allowing the wire to cool and return to its normal shape, which closes the vent to maintain cabin temperature.

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