Design of Fish Fin Actuators Based on Shape Memory Alloys

Introduction Shape memory alloys (SMA) are metals which can return to their original shape after deformation through the application of heat. They are in wide use for applications ranging from cardiovascular stents to reversible energy-absorbing bumpers for automobiles. SMA’s take advantage of the metal’s transition between two distinct crystal structures, providing rapid motion at moderate forces. Technology description Researchers at the UW have developed a new set of fish fin actuators based on shape memory alloys. A fish fin actuator is composed of several opposing SMA plates which are embedded in an outer casing material such as elastomer to form a fin shape. The fin actuators will be activated by heating selected SMA panels. Business opportunity The SMA fin actuators can be utilized to change the direction of robot fish, turning to the left or right, and also diving or swimming upward. Other unique applications are available. Stage of development Shape memory alloys have been under development at the University of Washington for over six years. Demonstration prototypes have been made and further work is underway to optimize the SMA actuators for new applications. Intellectual property position The technology is available for licensing.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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