Synthesis and Characterization of NiMnGa Ferromagnetic Shape Memory Alloy Thin Films
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Ni-Mn-Ga is a ferromagnetic shape memory alloy that can be used for future sensors and actuators. It has been shown that magnetic field can induce phase transformation and consequently large strain in stoichiometric Ni2MnGa. Since then considerable progress has been made in understanding the underlying science of shape memory and ferromagnetic shape memory in bulk materials. Ni-Mn-Ga thin films, however is a relatively under explored area. Ferromagnetic shape memory alloy thin films are conceived as the future MEMS sensor and actuator materials. With a 9.5 percent strain rate reported from magnetic reorientation, Ni-Mn-Ga thin films hold great promise as actuator materials. Thin films come with a number of advantages and challenges as compared to their bulk counterparts. While properties like mechanical strength, uniformity are much better in thin film form, high stress and constraint from the substrate pose a significant challenge for reorientation and shape memory behavior. In either case, it is very important to understand their behavior and examine their properties. This thesis is an effort to contribute to the literature of Ni-Mn-Ga thin films as ferromagnetic shape memory alloys. The focus of this project is to develop a recipe for fabricating NiMnGa thin films with desired composition and microstructure and hence unique properties for future MEMS actuator materials and characterize their properties to aid better understanding of their behavior. In this project NiMnGa thin films have been fabricated using magnetron sputtering on a variety of substrates. Magnetron sputtering technique allows us to tailor the composition of films which is crucial for controlling the phase transformation properties of NiMnGa films. The composition is tailored by varying several deposition parameters. Microstructure of the films has been investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques. Mechanical properties of as-deposited films have been probed using nano-indentation technique. The chemistry of sputtered films is determined quantitatively by wavelength dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (WDS). Phase transformation is studied by using a combination of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), in-situ heating in TEM and in-situ XRD instruments. Magnetic properties of films are examined using superconducting quantum interface device (SQUID).