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National Science Foundation Award Shape Memory Alloy Development

January 05, 2003

Evanston, IL, January 5, 2003 – QuesTek Innovations LLC announced that it has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation for a program entitled “Computational Design of Nanostructured High-Performance Shape Memory Alloys.”

Dr. Weijia Tang, Principal Investigator for the program stated that “the term “shape memory alloys” (SMAs) is applied to certain novel metallic materials that demonstrate the unique ability to return to an originally defined shape or size when subjected to thermal or mechanical processes. The characteristics of shape memory is exhibited in a wide variety of alloys, but only those that are able to recover substantial amounts of strain or that generate significant force upon changing shape, such as nickel titanium (NiTi) alloys and copper-base alloys, have achieved any level of commercial success.”

Recently, there has been an increasing demand for the development of size efficient microactuators in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). In addition, for medical application, extensive research has been conducted in an attempt to improve cyclic lifetime to enhance robustness of vascular stents, medical guidewires and guidepins. According to Dr. Tang, “to improve the output force and the cyclic lifetime of NiTi SMAs, the strength of the alloy must be improved, but historical “trial and error” methods of discovery have limited SMA development and their true economic potential has yet to be realized.”

Raymond P. Genellie, QuesTek’s Vice President – Operations stated that QuesTek’s expertise in the computational design of nanostructured high performance materials, has led to this innovative SBIR grant and the goal of achieving higher strength SMAs will be the primary focus of this Phase I program. The combination of QuesTek’s newly developed capability of simulating nanoscale precipitation microstructure and the well-established thermodynamic and mechanistic strength modeling of its Materials by Design® technology, makes the design of nanostructured high performance SMAs feasible and promises to lead to important scientific research and commercial applications.

QuesTek Innovations LLC (www.questek.com) is a global leader in Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) technologies, serving government and industrial private sectors. Using its proprietary Materials by Design® methodology, QuesTek has rapidly developed breakthrough alloys (based on Fe, Cu, Al, Ti, Co, Mo, W systems), coatings, powders, and other materials that provide improved performance, reduced capital (as well as operating and maintenance costs) and provide competitive advantage. QuesTek has developed four steels that are being used in demanding aerospace and other applications, has a large portfolio of other materials nearing commercialization with more than 20 US patents awarded/pending and relevant international IP coverage. For more information, please contact Jeff Grabowski.

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