This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Characterization of Thin Film Nickel Titanium Shape Memory Alloys




Harris Odum, Nicole Latrice

Type of Degree



Materials Engineering


Shape memory alloys (SMA) are able to recover their original shape through the appropriate heat or stress exposure after enduring mechanical deformation at a low temperature. Numerous alloy systems have been discovered which produce this unique feature like TiNb, AgCd, NiAl, NiTi, and CuZnAl. Since their discovery, bulk scale SMAs have undergone extensive material property investigations and are employed in real world applications. However, its thin film counterparts have been modestly investigated and applied. Researchers have introduced numerous theoretical microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices; yet, the research community’s overall unfamiliarity with the thin film properties has delayed growth in this area. In addition, it has been difficult to outline efficient thin film processing techniques. In this dissertation, NiTi thin film processing and characterization techniques will be outlined and discussed. NiTi thin films—1 µm thick—were produced using sputter deposition techniques. Substrate bound thin films were deposited to analysis the surface using Scanning Electron Microscopy; the film composition was obtained using Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy; the phases were identified using X-ray diffraction; and the transformation temperatures acquired using resistivity testing. Microfabrication processing and sputter deposition were employed to develop tensile membranes for membrane deflection experimentation to gain insight on the mechanical properties of the thin films. The incorporation of these findings will aid in the movement of SMA microactuation devices from theory to fruition and greatly benefit industries such as medicinal and aeronautical.