Ferromagnetic shape memory flapper for remotely actuated propulsion systems

Oren Y. Kanner, Doron Shilo, Jian Sheng, Richard D James, Yaniv Ganor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Generating propulsion with small-scale devices is a major challenge due to both the domination of viscous forces at low Reynolds numbers as well as the small relative stroke length of traditional actuators. Ferromagnetic shape memory materials are good candidates for such devices as they exhibit a unique combination of large strains and fast responses, and can be remotely activated by magnetic fields. This paper presents the design, analysis, and realization of a novel NiMnGa shear actuation method, which is especially suitable for small-scale fluid propulsion. A fluid mechanics analysis shows that the two key parameters for powerful propulsion are the engineering shear strain and twin boundary velocity. Using high-speed photography, we directly measure both parameters under an alternating magnetic field. Reynolds numbers in the inertial flow regime (>700) are evaluated. Measurements of the transient thrust show values up to 40 mN, significantly higher than biological equivalents. This work paves the way for new remotely activated and controlled propulsion for untethered micro-scale robots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number085030
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


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