Quake-proof memory alloys

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are investigating whether or not shape-memory alloys might be useful construction materials for seismic-resistant structures. Reginald DesRoches and colleagues have developed a computer model to study how these materials respond thermodynamically and mechanically to loading from strong motion. Their calculations could help determine the viability of using smart alloys made from combinations of copper-zinc-aluminum-nickel, copper-aluminum-nickel or nickel-titanium in cables, bars, plates and helical springs for engineering applications. For standard materials, mechanics is usually sufficient for engineers, but with smart materials thermodynamics becomes an important component of the equations.