PostDoc - Inflatable metamaterials for morphological control

The Cluster of Excellence livMatS develops completely novel, life-like materials systems that adapt autonomously to various environments and harvest clean energy from their surroundings. The intention of these purely technical – yet in a behavioral sense quasi-living – materials systems is to meet the demands of humans with regard to pioneering environmental and energy technologies. The societal relevance of autonomous systems and their sustainability will thus play an important role in their development. The research program of livMatS is characterized by highly interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from a broad range of fields including engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, the humanities, and sustainability science.

The livMats Cluster of Excellence is offering a PostDoc position in the following project:

METAINFLATE – Inflatable Metamaterials for Morphological Control

Start-date: As soon as possible

Project description
METAINFLATE aims at creating a new family of soft robots by designing and fabricating inflatable snapping actuators that harness the nonlinear response of architected metamaterials. Thanks to the high tunability of the mechanical metamaterial response, novel functionalities will be encoded in the structure, enabling next generation soft machines with simplified control and embodied intelligence. The first objective is to design and fabricate an inflatable actuator with a nonlinear pressure-volume curve that allows snap-through phenomenon. As a simple inflatable shell has a linear monotonic pressure-volume response (if there are no ballooning effects), the snap-through will be induced solely by the metamaterial architecture. The second objective is to develop a methodology to design simplified control schemes by exploiting the nonlinear response of the actuators. This approach is named “morphological control”, as it makes use of the physical properties of the system to achieve a control task. Lastly, the previous concepts will be applied to design and fabricate a bi-modal soft robotic demonstrator. The soft robot envisioned in this project will have a single pressure input for all the actuators and the sequences that create the locomotion patterns will be morphologically controlled. The new designs and control principles envisaged in this proposal will be paramount to enable next generation multifunctional soft machines with higher levels of embodied intelligence.

Candidate profile

  • You have (or close to have) a PhD in Engineering, Robotics, Materials Science, Physics or a related field
  • You have a profound knowledge of Solid and Fluid Mechanics (hyperelastic materials, fluidic actuation, mechanical instabilities)
  • You are proficient in CAD, FEM simulations and programming languages (python, MATLAB, etc)
  • You have lab experience with silicones molding, 3D printing (SLA, FDM), mechanical testing
  • You are a pro-active and have great scientific writing skills
  • You are creative, research-enthusiast, team-player, problem-solver, easy at working in an international environment and motivated to pursue an independent career in research!
  • A prior doctoral or postdoctoral experience in Soft Robotics is welcome!

Please hand in:

  • Letter of intent detailing why you are interested in this specific project and how your previous research qualifies you for the project (up to 1,500 words)
  • Curriculum Vitae with list of publications (if applicable)
  • Certified copies of your university degree(s) with grades (B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD certificate / Diploma certificate and transcript)
  • Short summary of your PhD thesis (up to 1,000 words)
  • Work sample (chapter from recent thesis or journal article, up to 5,000 words)
  • Suggestion of two referees with contact details

Your documents will not be returned after the application process. For this reason, please submit copies only. The position is funded for 24 months. An extension is possible and your salary will be determined in accordance with TV-L E13. We are particularly pleased to receive applications from women for the position advertised here.

Please send your application in English including supporting documents mentioned above citing the reference number 00003064, Application deadline is 30 June, 2023. Application is to be emailed as ONE SINGLE PDF FILE to

Direct all scientific questions about the project to Prof. Edoardo Milana