Reviewing the results of recent first-principles calculations, we work out a close analogy between the two paradigmatic classes of magnetic shape memory materials, the ordered Ni2 MnGa Heusler compound and the disordered Fe70 Pd30 alloy. Despite fundamental differences between both systems, we can demonstrate that in both cases the very low formation energy for tetragonal twins on the smallest length scale opens an alternative transformation path into an adaptive hierarchical microstructure which is important for the functional behavior. The low energy of the (101) twin boundary corresponds to a shear instability which is associated to the soft transversal acoustic phonon in both systems. In turn, changes of the energy landscape upon magnetic disorder are responsible for the stability of austenite. This points out the strong influence of magnetoelastic coupling on the transformation process.
Nanotwinned adaptive microstructures in Ni2 MnGa and Fe68 Pd32 magnetic shape memory alloys obtained from first-principles calculations.