Skip to main content

Video Transcript – Müllner Lab Video

Video Transcript

[Peter Müllner, professor of Material Science and Engineering, Boise State University]: I’m Peter Müllner, I’m a professor in Materials Science and Engineering at Boise State University. My students and I do exciting research in the magnetic materials laboratory, where we study the magneto mechanics of magnetic shape memory alloys. This research has many promising applications, our Boise State patents cover devices and methods to sense forces, to generate electrical energy for non-volatile memory, and even for room temperature refrigeration. We also have a pending patent for a micropump that can transport very small quantities of liquids very rapidly, and at unprecedented precision. This is the ideal pump for the lab-on-a-chip. In the movie Terminator 2, with Arnold Schwarzenegger as good guy T-800 terminator. Robert Patrick played the villain, and more modern, T-1000 terminator. The T-1000 terminator was made of liquid metal with the fabulous property of remembering shapes. Even more staggering, the material of the T-1000 terminator took over all functions, and replaced all the little machines which were built into the old T-800 terminator. This is exactly what we do with magnetic shape memory alloys. We replace complicated machines with just a material. Instead of using wheels, the masterpiece of human ingenuity, to make things move, we make the material do the motion. Nickel Manganese Gallium is an alloy with the astounding capability to deform, stretch and strain, when exposed to a variable magnetic field. Nature does exactly the same thing, I mean nature does not use wheels. For example, think about a natural pump: the swallowing mechanism of a swan. When the throat muscle contracts, it squeezes food. To pump food, the contraction moves downwards. We invented a pump making use of the same principle. Take a straight, rectangular rod, of Nickel Manganese Gallium and insert it in a conduit. Apply a magnetic field locally, such that the rod contracts at the narrow location to make a pocket in the conduit, then move the magnetic field and the contraction moves with the magnetic field. That is our pump. It is made of a rod, a conduit, and a magnet. As I mentioned earlier in this presentation, our pump can transport very small quantities of liquids very rapidly, and at unprecedented precision, making it the ideal pump for the lab-on-a-chip. The Nickel Manganese Gallium pump is an actuator, which transforms magnetic energy into mechanical work, by inverting the mechanism we can transform mechanical input energy into magnetic output energy to produce an electrical signal for sensing or power generation. Magnetic shape memory alloys substitute for machines, this is a new paradigm in Mechanical Engineering. Magnetic shape memory opens the door for building mechanical devices at the nano scale. I’m Peter Müllner, thank you for your interest in my research. For more information, please contact Mary Givens Andrews.