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September 22nd 2017

The Soft Robotic Matter group is part of the Designer Matter initiative at AMOLF. The group focuses on the design, fabrication and fundamental understanding of materials that are capable of autonomously adapting to – and even harnessing – variations in their environment. We aim to uncover principles that help us understand how non-linearity and feedback can result in the emergence of complex – but useful – behavior in soft actuated systems. To this end, the Soft Robotic Matter group explores active and sensing elements to implement feedback capabilities and computation in soft architected materials, and uses a combination of computational, experimental and analytical tools. This line of research uniquely combines concepts from soft robotics and architected materials, providing new and exciting opportunities in the design of compliant structures and devices with highly non-linear behavior. See also: www.overvelde.com.

Job description
The Soft Robotic Matter group at AMOLF is looking for a PhD students who will work on the design, fabrication and analysis of an artificial soft heart. This project is part of a recently started European consortium, that envisions the development and bring to the clinic soft biocompatible artificial organs. These will consist of a soft robotic shell with actuators ('artificial muscles') and sensors, enabling completely natural motion. The innerlining and structures will be made by in situ tissue engineering, ensuring biocompatibility of blood-contacting surfaces. As the first step, the goal of the consortium will be to develop the Hybrid Heart, which can completely replace a patient’s heart in a procedure similar to a heart transplant, and to provide a cure for heart failure, which affects ~23 million people worldwide. Currently, patients with end-stage heart failure either receive a heart transplant, if available, or long-term mechanical circulatory support, which causes severe complications. To achieve the ambitious goal of providing a permanent cure for these patients, the consortium will, in parallel, develop the components of the Hybrid Heart: 1) a soft elastomeric robotic shell containing actuators and sensors, 2) scaffolds for in situ tissue engineering of inner lining, valves and vessels and 3) a wireless energy transfer system. The Hybrid Heart project will be carried out by an interdisciplinary group of (academic) researchers and high-tech SMEs, with experience in cardiac surgery, tissue engineering, soft robotics and engineering. The PhD project in the Soft Robotic Matter group focusses mostly on the development of the soft robotic components.

AMOLF initiates and performs leading fundamental research on the physics of complex forms of matter, and creates new functional materials, in partnership with academia and industry. AMOLF is located at the Amsterdam Science Park, The Netherlands, and engages approximately 140 scientists and 70 support staff. See also www.amolf.nl

Job requirements
At the start of the PhD the candidate meets the requirements for an MSc-degree, to ensure eligibility for a Dutch PhD examination. The position is open to candidates from a range of backgrounds, including Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, or a related field. The Soft Robotic Matter group is looking for a highly motivated candidate with a go-getter mentality. Preferably, the candidate has a strong experimental background, in combination with a sound appetite for numerical/theoretical work. Knowledge of medicine and experience in Finite Element Analyis and additive manufacturing is an advantage, but not required. Excellent verbal and written communication skills (in English) are essential.

Conditions of employment
When fulfilling a PhD position at NWO-I, the Institutes Organisation of NWO, you will get the status of junior scientist. 
You will have an employee status and can participate in all the employee benefits NWO-I offers. You will get a contract for four years. Your salary will be up to a maximum of 2,834 euro gross per month.The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent. 
You are supposed to have a thesis finished at the end of your four year term with NWO-I. 
A training programme is part of the agreement. You and your supervisor will make up a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. This plan also defines which teaching activities you will be responsible (up to a maximum of ten percent of your time). The conditions of employment of NWO-I are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres (Cao-Onderzoekinstellingen), more exclusive information is available at this website under Personeelsinformatie (in Dutch) or under Personnel (in English).
General information about working at NWO-I can be found in the English part of this website under Personnel. The 'Job interview code' applies to this position.

Dr. ir. Bas Overvelde Group leader Soft Robotic Matter, Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

Please go to the AMOLF website, choose this job ad and use the button 'Apply for this position' at the bottom of that advertisement.