Smart Materials

Smart materials includes any active or multifunctional material that can serve as a sensor or actuator as well as a structural element.  These materials are oftentimes highly non-linear and hysteretic, but they can be customized to provide elegant, streamlined, and energy efficient actuator or sensor systems.


  • Thermally-activated shape memory alloys 
  • Super-elastic shape memory alloys
  • Electro-active polymers
  • Material characterization
  • Modeling/simulation of hysteretic materials (homogenized free-energy model)


  • Feasibility analysis
  • Concept design
  • Prototype development and testing
  • Precision, low force (<5 lbs) tensile testing
  • Material modeling and characterization


  • Museum Exhibit - At NC Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research center, demonstrates how technology gets inspiration from nature by using 3d printing, super-elastic SMA, and thermally-activated SMA wires to replicate a bat's skeleton, joints, and muscles, respectively.


  • Steerable Guidewire - 1 mm diameter guidewire with a super-elastic core that deflects thanks to a 50 micron diameter SMA to help guide a catheter through body cavities and reduce surgery time and infection risk.


  • Adaptive Nozzle - two flexible joints in series controlled by an array of SMA wires to control the location and trajectory of the nozzle tip.


  • SMA Characterization and Modeling - critical for feasibility analysis and development of control methods for hysteretic/non-linear materials.