A bio-inspired shape memory alloy composite (BISMAC) actuator

A. A. Villanueva, K. B. Joshi, J. B. Blottman, Shashank Priya

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65 Scopus citations


A beam-shape composite actuator using shape memory alloy (SMA) wires as the active component, termed a Bio-Inspired Shape Memory Alloy Composite(BISMAC), was designed to provide a large deformation profile. The BISMAC design was inspired by contraction of a jellyfish bell, utilizing the rowing mechanism for locomotion. Characterization of maximum deformation in underwater conditions was performed for different actuator configurations to analyze the effect of different design parameters, including silicone thickness, flexible steel thickness and distance between the SMA and flexible steel. A constant cross-section (CC)-BISMAC of length 16cm was found to achieve deformation with a radius of curvature of 3.5cm. Under equilibrium conditions, the CC-BISMAC was found to achieve 80% of maximum deformation, consuming 7.9 J/cycle driven at 16.2V/0.98A and a frequency of 0.25Hz. A detailed analytical model was developed using the transfer matrix method and a 1D finite beam element (FE) model to simulate the behavior of the BISMAC incorporating gravity, buoyancy and SMA parameters. The FE and transfer matrix models had a maximum deformation error norm of 1.505 and 1.917cm in comparison with experimentally observed beam deformation in the CC-BISMAC. The mean curvatures predicted by the FE and transfer matrix methods were 0.292 cm-1 and 0.295cm-1 compared to a mean experimental curvature of 0.294 cm-1, a percentage error of -5.4% and 2.77%, respectively. Using the developed analytical model, an actuator design was fabricated mimicking the maximum deformation profile of jellyfish of the species Aurelia aurita (AA). The designed AA-BISMAC achieved a maximum curvature of 0.428 cm-1 as compared to 0.438cm-1 for A.aurita with an average square root error of 0.043 cm-1, 10.2% of maximum A. aurita curvature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025013
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 19 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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