Boise State students' work on magnetic shape memory alloys published

The research will be published in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Journal of Medical Devices. | File photo

Two Boise State University undergraduate mechanical engineering majors, Sam Barker and Eric Rhoads, will see their research published in a peer-reviewed journal following work in the Magnetic Materials Lab with Professor of Material Science and Engineering Peter Müllner.

The research, which will be published in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Journal of Medical Devices, involves a practical application of magnetic shape memory (MSM) alloys, which change shape in response to magnetic fields. When forced to change shape quickly and with purpose, the alloys can function as small motors or pumps.

In 2014, Barker, who had been working in Müllner’s lab for a year, created an MSM pump that he later tested with neurophysiologist Martin Vreugdenhil in Birmingham, England. Rhoads assisted in the pump’s development by perfecting a single crystal growth process that produced Ni-Mn-Ga crystals for the pump.

“This is important progress in MSM technology, since our micropump is the first MSM device that actually solves a problem,” Müllner said. “The fact that Dr. Vreugdenhil did not find a suitable, commercially available pump further indicates that there is a market for our technology. This is one reason why we recently started a spin-off company, Shaw Mountain Technology LLC, to commercialize MSM technology in Idaho.”

Barker and Rhoads are both nontraditional students who are participating in internships that will become full-time jobs upon their graduation in December.

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