Oberlin College and Conservatory

Department of Physics & Astronomy Lecture Series

Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 4:35pm to 5:45pm

Wright Lecture Hall, W201
110 North Professor Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

"Shape Memory Materials:  From Physics to Flights" is the title of the talk to be presented by Othmane Benafan, PhD, materials research engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center.


Having materials that change shape, appearances and physical properties in response to heat sounds like a fictional extract, unless it is shape memory alloys (then, of course, everything makes sense).  Shape memory alloys, or SMAs in short, are a class of multifunctional materials that undergo a reversible phase transformation between a high temperature cubic crystal and a lower temperature, low symmetry martensite phase. 

Unlike diffusional solid-state transformations, which require atomic migration over relatively long distances, this martensitic transformation is diffusionless and occurs in a cooperative movement of atoms that rearrange into a new crystal structure. Understanding the physics behind these materials has been going on since their discovery in the 1950s. 

SMAs have found use in the biomedical field, automotive applications and deep space exploration. In this presentation, Benafan will review the science behind SMAs, the advanced tools used to characterize them via neutron scattering techniques and, finally, applications in Mars Rovers, space probes and many other extreme places.

A reception for Othmane Benefan begins at 4:10 p.m. in the Anderson Lounge, Wright Lab, second floor.

Event Type

Info Sessions/Presentations


Academic, Physics and Astronomy



Contact Person

Diane Doman

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