Optimization of shape memory alloys for use in electrical connectors

Thomas J. Yurick, Suzanne E. Mohney, Gary L. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


In an effort to reduce costs associated with automotive electrical connectors, auto manufacturers have looked to tin-coated terminals as an effective alternative to more expensive gold-coated terminals. Tin, however, is highly subject to a wear phenomenon known as fretting corrosion, which increases the contact resistance and renders the terminals useless. One solution to minimize fretting corrosion is to increase the terminal normal force. In ordinary electrical terminals, an increased normal force leads to other problems such as high insertion and removal forces. This work is a continuation of previous research in which a Ni-Ti shape memory alloy (SMA) coil was developed in order to increase the high temperature normal force of tin-coated terminals while maintaining moderate room temperature insertion forces. In particular, this work addresses the cyclic stability of the SMA coil when subjected to repeated temperature cycles over extended periods, the maximization of normal force provided by the coil for the amount of SMA used, and the long-term high-temperature performance of the SMA. This research has resulted in the reduction of the SMA wire diameter by nearly 30%, an increase in high temperature removal force of the terminal from approximately 20 N without the SMA to 60 N with it, and an associated reduction in cost by nearly 50% over the previous design. To accomplish these improvements, the SMA composition was changed from 55.1 wt% Ni to 49.7 wt% Ni, and the optimum training temperature for the new composition was found to be 400°C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalElectrical Contacts, Proceedings of the Annual Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts
StatePublished - 2000
EventElectrical Contacts-2000 Proceedings of the 46th IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts - Chicago, IL, USA
Duration: Sep 25 2000Sep 27 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimization of shape memory alloys for use in electrical connectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this