Electrochemical Surface Structuring for Strong SMA Wire–Polymer Interface Adhesion


Active hybrid composites represent a novel class of smart materials used to design morphing surfaces, opening up new applications in the aircraft and automotive industries. The bending of the active hybrid composite is induced by the contraction of electrically activated shape memory alloy (SMA) wires, which are placed with an offset to the neutral axis of the composite. Therefore, the adhesion strength between the SMA wire and the surrounding polymer matrix is crucial to the load transfer and the functionality of the composite. Thus, the interface adhesion strength is of great importance for the performance and the actuation potential of active hybrid composites. In this work, the surface of a commercially available one-way effect NiTi SMA wire with a diameter of 1 mm was structured by selective electrochemical etching that preferably starts at defect sites, leaving the most thermodynamically stable surfaces of the wire intact. The created etch pits lead to an increase in the surface area of the wire and a mechanical interlocking with the polymer, resulting in a combination of adhesive and cohesive failure modes after a pull-out test. Consequently, the force of the first failure determined by an optical stress measurement was increased by more than 3 times when compared to the as-delivered SMA wire. The actuation characterization test showed that approximately the same work capacity could be retrieved from structured SMA wires. Moreover, structured SMA wires exhibited the same shape of the stress–strain curve as the as-delivered SMA wire, and the mechanical performance was not influenced by the structuring process. The austenite start As and austenite finish Af transformation temperatures were also not found to be affected by the structuring process. The formation of etching pits with different geometries and densities was discussed with regard to the kinetics of oxide formation and dissolution.
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