This article focuses on smart materials that are beginning to make their mark on some high-profile commercial applications. This class of materials encompasses a broad range of ceramics, metal alloys, gels, and polymers. Jacob Rabinow invented MR fluid while he was at the National Bureau of Standards in the 1940s. Advances in sensor technology and rugged controllers helped to open the way for MR fluid technology. The MagneRide system is coupled to an array of sensors, including four that monitor wheel-to-body position, and to a control module. Piezoelectric materials are among the most widely used in smart applications. Piezo materials, which change shape when an electric charge is applied to them, have been accepted into a number of industrial and consumer applications. It is difficult to predict just how successful many of the materials will be in cracking the commercial arena. Early successful applications are likely to smooth the transition for the many materials that will become available in the coming years.

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