Twin-Enhanced Magnetic Torque

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Magnetic shape memory alloys experience magnetic-field-induced torque due to magnetocrystalline anisotropy and shape anisotropy. In a homogeneous magnetic field, torque results in bending of long samples. This study investigates the torque on a single crystal of Ni-Mn-Ga magnetic shape memory alloy constrained with respect to bending in an external magnetic field. The dependence of the torque on external magnetic field magnitude, strain, and twin boundary structure was studied experimentally and with computer simulations. With increasing magnetic field, the torque increased until it reached a maximum near 700 mT. Above 200 mT, the torque was not symmetric about the equilibrium orientation for a sample with one twin boundary. The torque on two specimen with equal strain but different twin boundary structures varied systematically with the spatial arrangement of crystallographic twins. Numerical simulations show that twin boundaries suppress the formation of 180° domains if the direction of easy magnetization between two twin boundaries is parallel to a free surface and the magnetic field is perpendicular to that surface. For a particular twin microstructure, the torque decreases with increasing strain by a factor of six due to the mutual compensation of magnetocrystalline and shape anisotropy. When free rotation is suppressed such as in transducers of magneto-mechanical actuators, magnetic-field-induced torque creates strong bending forces, which may cause friction and failure under cyclic loading.