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Giant Field-Induced Reversible Strain in Magnetic

Shape Memory NiMnGa Alloy
O. Heczko, Alexei Sozinov, and Kari Ullakko

AbstractA room temperature extensional strain of 5.1% was

observed in martensitic Ni48 Mn31 Ga21 alloy in the magnetic field
of 480 kA/m. The magnitude of field-induced strain decreases with
increasing external compressive stress applied in the direction of
expansion. The compressive stress of about 3 MPa prevents the development of the substantial field-induced strain. Magnetization
curves obtained by VSM exhibit an abrupt magnetization change
and a transient hysteresis in the first quadrant. Large reversible
field-induced strain and the abrupt magnetization change are due
to the rearrangement or redistribution of martensitic twin variants
by the applied magnetic field. It was confirmed by optical observation of movement and nucleation of martensitic twin boundaries.
Index TermsMagnetic shape memory, magnetoelastic deformation, martensitic transformation, NiMnGa alloys.


AGNETIC shape memory alloys are of great interest due

to high theoretically achievable strain, which may be
utilized in actuators and other industrial equipment [1]. Large
strains of these alloys are achieved by reorientation of martensitic twin variants in which twin boundaries are highly mobile.
This reorientation can be produced by stress and/or by magnetic
field [2], [3]. The field-driven reorientation of martensitic structure results in large change of sample dimensions. The effect
was first observed experimentally in 1996 by Ullakko et al. [4]
who reported a field-induced strain of 0.2% in a single crystal of
Ni MnGa. It was followed by James and Wuttig [3] observing
0.6% reversible field-induced strain in Fe-Pd. Next step was the
observation of 1.3% strain by Tickle et al. [5] and 4.3% strain
by Tickle and James [6] in close to stoichiometric Ni MnGa
single crystal. These large strains were obtained by a combination of magnetic field and compressive stress biasing. Most recently Murray et al. [7] reported 2.2% reversible axial strain and
5.7% shear strain in Ni-Mn-Ga single crystal which has composition close to Ni MnGa. Magnetic and magnetoelastic properties of close to stoichiometric composition Ni MnGa were investigated by Tickle and James [6], showing that the martensitic
structure possesses high uniaxial anisotropy with easy axis coinciding with crystallographic tetragonal symmetry axis (c-axis).
In this paper we report the observation of field-induced
reversible 5.1% linear or extensional strain due to the
Manuscript received February 14, 2000. This work was supported by the
Technology Development Center of Finland (TEKES).
O. Heczko and K. Ullakko are with the Department of Engineering Physics
and Mathematics, Laboratory of Biomedical Engineering, Helsinki University
of Technology, 02015 HUT, Espoo, Finland.
A. Sozinov is with Laboratory of Physical Metallurgy and Material Science,
Helsinki University of Technology, 02015 HUT, Espoo, Finland.
Publisher Item Identifier S 0018-9464(00)08392-8.

redistribution of martensitic twin variant fractions. This

structural rearrangement is accompanied with the changes of
magnetization curve. Additionally the strain dependence on
external compressive stress was studied. The measured magnitude of the strain is quite close to theoretical limit given by
tetragonal distortion of the lattice of the particular composition.
Textured bars of composition Ni Mn Ga were prepared
from high purity elements by a directional solidification
method. After annealing the grain size was so large that it
was possible to cut single crystalline samples from the grain.
The crystal structure of the alloy at room temperature was
determined by X-ray powder diffraction using Cu K radiation.
The powder for the diffraction was prepared from the same bar
by ball-milling under protective atmosphere.
The measurement of temperature dependence of low field
AC-magnetic susceptibility was used to determine Curie and
martensite transformation temperatures. Magnetic properties
were measured using conventional vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM).
The sample used in field-induced strain measurement was a
prism with approximately 100 faces and dimensions about
5 mm 5 mm 9 mm. The sample was polished to allow in situ
observations of martensite microstructure with polarized light
microscopy. The microscope was mounted between the coils of
electromagnet and equipped with video camera.
The field-induced strain under load was measured in a load
cell equipped with a capacitive sensor. Compressive stress was
applied to the sample by piston driven by pressurized gas from
the cylinder. This design permits to accommodate large strain
associated with MSM effect without apparent change of applied
Powder X-ray diffraction pattern taken at room temperature
shows that the martensitic structure is close to tetragonal structure with shorter c-axis. Determined from the diffraction pattern the lattice constants of martensite are = 0.560 nm and =
determines theoretical limit
0.595 nm. The ratio
for strain connected with redistribution of martensite variant.
= 6.2%. Parent austenitic high temperature
In our case
phase is cubic Heusler type structure with lattice constant =
0.584 nm.
The temperature dependence of low field magnetic susceptibility is shown in Fig. 1. The heating/cooling rate was about

00189464/00$10.00 2000 IEEE



Fig. 1. Temperature dependence of low-field magnetic susceptibility

measured during cooling (solid line) and heating (dash line). The
transformations are marked with the corresponding temperatures.
Fig. 3. The field-induced strain for various loads at room temperature. The
magnitudes of compressive stresses are marked next to the corresponding

Fig. 2. Magnetization curve of stress-free Ni-Mn-Ga sample at room


1.5 C/min. The sharp changes of susceptibility indicate structural and magnetic transitions. The austenite-martensite trans= 27 C upon cooling. The transition
formation occurs at
exhibits small thermal hysteresis of about 7 degrees; during
heating the martensite-to-austenite transformation occurs at
= 34 C. The Curie temperature of the alloy is
= 98 C, i.e.
both martensite and austenite phases are ferromagnetic.
Fig. 2 shows the magnetization curve of the ellipsoid-like
sample ( 4 mm 12 mm) at = 17 C. The curve exhibits
some peculiar features. Initially the increase of magnetization
is slow and nearly linear suggesting that the magnetization
process is controlled by magnetization rotation. At about
280 kA/m the magnetization suddenly rises and then levels off.
When decreasing the field the magnetization stays at saturation
value toward the lower field. This results in large transient
hysteresis in the first quadrant. The hysteresis occurs in the
first cycle only. Subsequent magnetization loops show fast
saturation without appreciable hysteresis thus indicating that
the easy axis of magnetization is now oriented along the field
direction. A slight tilt of the magnetization curve is caused
by a demagnetization field. Observed transient behavior can
be easily restored. When the sample was rotated 90 degrees
and magnetized at 800 kA/m and then returned to the original
position, the same magnetization curve was obtained.
By extrapolating the initial linear part of the curve toward
saturation (dashed line in Fig. 2), making correction for
demagnetization field, and assuming that the magnetization

process is pure rotation, one obtains the value of magnetic

= 1.7 10 J/m , which
anisotropy constant of martensite
10 J/m reported by Tickle
is lower than the value 2.45
but higher than the value
and James [5] for Ni Mn Ga
1.2 10 J/m reported by Ullakko [2] for nonstoichiometric
Ni MnGa composition.
In Fig. 3 the field-induced strain under different loads is
shown as a function of the magnetic field. In the experiment the
direction of variable magnetic field was along the long sample
axis and fixed constant compressive stress was applied along
the short sample axis, i.e. the field and loading directions were
normal to each other. The expansion was measured in the stress
direction. The contraction was observed in the field direction.
In order to achieve identical initial sample conditions the
sample was magnetized to saturation at the 800 kA/m magnetic
field in the perpendicular direction to the long sample axis prior
to each strain measurement. After that the sample was fixed into
the experimental apparatus, the constant compressive stress was
applied and the strain was recorded as a function of field. The
field increased to maximum and then decreased to zero. The
return path is shown only for the lowest load. During further
cycling of the magnetic field the strain remained substantially
at the same level. By rotation the sample by 90 degrees in the
magnetic field of 800 kA/m the original behavior was restored.
With increasing compressive stress the maximum of fieldinduced strain decreases and the field needed for straining the
material increases. The decrease of field-induced strain with
increasing compressive stress is summarized in Fig. 4. The
strain can be substantially suppressed by the application of
about 2.7 MPa compressive stress. This value is much less than
9 MPa given for Ni MnGa in [5].
The magnitude of the blocking stress, , can be understood
from a simple energy consideration [2]. In order for the rearrangement to appear, the anisotropy energy density given by
should be higher than elastic
magnetic anisotropy constant
energy density given by . If the anisotropy is lower, the rotation of magnetization from the easy axis to the field direction is
energetically favorable and no substantial structural rearrange= 1.7 10 J/m
ment can occur. Using the measured values
6% we obtain the blocking stress of 2.8 MPa which is
quite close to the value derived from the measurement (Fig. 4).


Fig. 4. The field-induced strain as a function of fixed compressive stress at the

800 kA/m magnetic field.

The transient behavior of the magnetization and the observed

large linear strain can be explained by the changing ratio of two
martensitic twin variants induced by the magnetic field. The initial state before magnetization is close to a single martensitic
variant state with easy magnetic axis (tetragonal c-axis) oriented
perpendicularly to the direction of the magnetic field. This state
is achieved by magnetizing the sample in strong perpendicular
magnetic field. Optical observation indicates the existence of
residual different martensite variant. The volume of this residual
martensite variant is, however, small.
Let us first discuss the magnetization curve (Fig. 2). Initially,
with increasing magnetic field the magnetization vector rotates
out from the easy axis. Before the rotation can be completed,
abrupt rearrangement of martensitic twin variants takes place,
which leads to the observed magnetization jump. When the rearrangement of the twins is concluded in the high field, the easy
axis again lies in the direction of the field and the magnetization curve assumes the square-like shape. At this stage, the
sample consists mostly of the second martensitic variant, apart
from some residual bands. By magnetizing the sample in perpendicular direction we can return to the original first martensitic variant state.
Observed behavior of the magnetization closely matched the
magnetic-field-dependence of the strain. Measured strain-field


curves exhibit a plateau before any appreciable strain arises. It is

a region where magnetization rotation takes place. In larger field
the magnetization rotation is followed by the redistribution of
martensitic twin variant fractions when twin boundaries become
Light microscope observation of the sample during magnetization shows that the changes of the relative fractions of the
variants are due to the movement of existing martensite twin
boundaries i.e. the martensitic bands with favorable orientation
broaden at the expense of other variants. Also the nucleation
of new bands with mobile twin boundaries was observed. Not
even in the strongest available field the transformation to second
variant is complete. The residual thin martensitic bands remain
visible in the sample. The comparison of the measured strain
of 5.1% with the theoretical limit implies that about 85% of
the sample volume undergoes transformation from the first to
the second martensitic variant. This incomplete transformation
may be explained by the fact that there are internal obstacles
for moving twin boundaries such as voids, cracks and structural

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Ni-Mn-Ga ferromagnetic shape memory alloy, , Nov. 1518, 1999, Abstract44th Conf. Magnetism and Magnetic Materials.