Flexible Actuator Based on Shape Memory Alloy Sheet

Technology #13906

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shape memory alloy sheet flexible actuator
Professor Daniela Rus
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
External Link (people.csail.mit.edu)
Eduardo Torres-Jara
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT
Managed By
Jack Turner
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Flexible actuator based on shape memory alloy sheet

US Patent 8,733,099

Mechanical actuators based on shape memory alloys.


Applications include robotic probes, laparoscopic medical probes, and micro-lenses positioning.

Problem Addressed

Applications where space and weight are limited require alternatives to traditional actuators .


This invention proposes actuators that are based on Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) sheets and are built by combining a basic actuation unit. Depending on the combination of these cells the direction of actuation, the force generated and the expansion of the actuator can be controlled. This design reduces the power required and makes mounting the cell simple since the support points are not heated. The force to weight ratio is 160 for comparable power consumption to commercial electromagnetic motors.


  • Lightweight and low power consumption
  • High weight to force ration (~160)
  • Focalizes heat to avoid structural damage
  • Achieves long strokes, minimum of 57% expansion