Los Alamos National Laboratory

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National Security Education Center


  • Institute Director
    Dan Thoma
    (505) 663-5627
  • Institute Deputy Director
    Bob Field
    (505) 663-5807
  • Institute Office Manager
    Lynn Chavez
    (505) 663-5233

Sensor and Actuator Materials

The development and use of embedded sensors will have significant impact on the fabrication of products and their performance. Specifically, embedded sensors can provide feedback or corrective actions in the manufacturing of engineering products, as well as predicting the life-cycle of a product. Institute students are conducting research on sensor materials and their application.

Shape Memory Materials

Sensors combined with actuator materials such as shape-memory alloys can transform "dumb" mechanical systems into "smart" structures. Engineering systems can benefit by adopting many advances in embedded sensing, processing, telemetry, and actuation technology that will allow them to become self-monitoring, adaptable and possibly even self-healing. Such technology can improve the safety of an engineering product, improve the ability to monitor system aging on a unit-by-unit basis, improve measurement of loading environments, and improve the ability to perform validated simulations of these systems.

Scanning Probe Magnetic Microscope

Research topics include the use of magnetic tunneling junction (MTJ) sensors in the development of an improved resolution scanning-probe magnetic microscope, a powerful characterization tool that can be applied not only to functional magnetic materials and applications, but to structural materials such as austenitic stainless steels to monitor ferrite distributions caused by thermal mechanical and welding processes.

Ferrofluidic Sensors

Ferrofluidic sensors using ferromagnetic nanoparticles are also being investigated for bioassay and other applications. The fundamental physics of shape-memory materials are also being explored, leading to insights into the martensitic transformations that are responsible for this phenomenon as well as approaches to tailor this phase transformation for specific applications.

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