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April 15th, 2005
Smart Materials Respond to Changing Environments
Scientists are focusing their research on various materials that can solve problems in diverse applications, among them medical and aerospace.
The materials most used in smart material systems fall into three classes: piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, and shape memory alloys (SMAs). All three undergo a reversible change in properties in response to an external stimulus. Piezoelectric materials transform electrical energy into mechanical energy when subjected to an electric field. Magnetostrictive materials' trigger is a magnetic field, which converts magnetic energy into mechanical energy. And SMAs switch phases when exposed to heat.
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