Recent research has revealed that Nickel Titanium (NiTi) shape memory alloys can produce residual stresses after undergoing constrained recovery and returning to their low temperature, martensitic state while still constrained. The nature and underlying mechanisms that cause this post constrained recovery residual stress (PCRRS) are not well understood. This paper presents experimental research and results seeking to further understand the PCRRS. Experiments were performed on multiple formulations of NiTi subjected to: 1) Cyclic loading and training before producing PCRRS, 2) Repeated thermomechanical loading with large strains followed by a thermal cycle to create and re-generated the PCRRS, and 3) Creation of the PCRRS followed by repeated cycles of small, 0.5% strains.
Experiments found that the training in 1) did not significantly alter the ability to produce PCRRS or its magnitude. Straining samples from the PCRRS state could reduce the residual stress state to zero stress, but the PCRRS could be recreated by repeating thermal actuation with the only significant variation being a reduction in magnitude for the first to second cycle. Multiple small strain cycles applied from the PCRRS state caused an incremental reduction in residual stress. The full PCRRS could be re-created by repeating the initial thermomechanical cycle. The values of the residual stress varied across the first 3 sets of cycles, but from the third set onward the response stabilized.
These results indicate that the primary mechanisms for generating a PCRRS are stable and recoverable with only minor and diminishing variations due to training or repeated regeneration of the PCRRS. Grain boundary stabilization and similar mechanisms may be responsible for the minor variation between the first few regenerations of the PCRRS. The incremental reduction in the residual stress after exposure to small 0.5% strains must be due to a recoverable process like partial and accumulating detwinning of the NiTi with each load cycle.
Further work is underway to perform microstructural analysis of samples in the various states to further the theorized material states.
The ability to generate and control PCRRS has the potential to find new application and advance capabilities in fields like self-healing and fatigue resistant materials by generating stresses without the continuous application of heat energy. New forms of actuation could also be developed based on the potential energy stored in a structure through PCRRS.