PhD Designing Advanced Materials for Interaction

Eindhoven University of Technology
September 01, 2024
Offerd Salary:€2,770
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD Designing Advanced Materials for Interaction

Are you excited to push the limits of shape-morphing actuation for interaction design? Join us in creating interactive systems with matter!



Irène Curie Fellowship



Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, Industrial Design



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Job description

Imagine a world where the materials and objects we interact with can adapt and transform, as if they were alive. Advanced materials present compelling opportunities and challenges for Design and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). By integrating sensors, actuators, and control systems, we can develop robotic material interfaces in various forms, such as coatings and structures, suitable for everyday use. Applications include interactive surfaces, wearables, smart textiles and shape-changing interfaces.

The discovery of advanced materials in Design-HCI has sparked novel research into their dynamic form and adaptive behaviors. The focus has evolved from purely functional aspects to exploring shape, material, and movement, vastly expanding the design possibilities of these systems. Interaction design now requires new fabrication tools and methodologies to unlock novel functionalities and interactions.

Harnessing the power of heat, light, or electric fields, Liquid Crystal Elastomers (LCEs) can reversibly change their size, shape, and optical properties. With thermoplastic LCEs, designers now have access to a versatile actuator that is both re-processable and recyclable. This advancement enables the creation of customized, intricate 3D structures through fabrication and assembly methods, such as 3D/4D printing, injection molding, casting and thermoforming. These methods allow for finer-grained manipulation of material behaviors, paving the way for novel form-factors to scale into applications.

You will engage in hands-on prototyping with thermoplastic LCEs for robotic material interfaces, facilitating knowledge transfer between Industrial Design and Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. Your work will lead to the creation and development of new interactions with LCEs, with a focus on fabrication and developing interdisciplinary research methods.

Key Areas of Research:

  • Form-giving: Develop tools and approaches for creating and programming novel interactions with a new class of thermoplastic LCEs for sustainable soft actuators.
  • Prototyping: Engage in hands-on prototyping and computational fabrication with LCEs addressing challenges related to sustainability, scalability, and multimodal experiences.
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Facilitate knowledge transfer between chemistry and interaction design through design methods.
  • Candidate Profile:

    We are looking for candidates with a strong background in design, human- computer interaction, chemistry, or related fields. Experience with design prototyping and fabrication (e.g., 3D/4D printing, injection molding, casting and thermoforming) will be advantageous. This position is a collaboration between the Interactive Matters Cluster, department of Industrial Design and the Stimuli-Responsive Functional Materials and Devices (SFD) Group, department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology. Depending on the stage of the project, you will spend time at the department of Industrial Design and Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, ensuring embedding in both departments and interaction with team members that have experience in advanced materials, soft robotics and interaction design.

    The SFD Group develops responsive polymers and integrates them into devices to address challenges in sustainable energy, healthcare, and personal comfort. The group is internationally recognized for a complete chain-of-knowledge approach spanning from synthesis to device fabrication. In their view, integration of newly-developed polymers into devices that employ their functionality is essential for demonstrating scientific and economic value. The team expertise includes prototype manufacturing and testing, using top- down methods like 3D printing, and bottom-up strategies such as the self- assembly of liquidcrystals. This combination of techniques allows them to create stimuli responsive materials with diverse molecular architectures and functionalities. www. functional-materials-devices.

    The Interactive Matters Cluster of the Industrial Design Department at TU/e focuses on tangible and embodied Interaction, as well as Aesthetics of Interaction. This cluster takes embodiment and aesthetics to the next level by incorporating advanced technologies such as advanced materials, sensing, signal processing, and artificial intelligence. The cluster explores the benefits of Embodied Intelligence by creating tangible multimodal experiences to support the interaction of humans and non-humans with their connected smart environments. The candidate will join the Material Aesthetics lab that works at the cross-section of interaction design, biology, robotics, and material science. Researchers at the lab develop and investigate tools and methods through the design and (co-) creation of experience prototypes. www.

    Job requirements
  • A master's degree (or an equivalent university degree) in Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, or related disciplines.
  • Experience with design, Human-Computer Interaction, material science, soft robotics or related fields.
  • Experience with Research-through-Design will be an advantage.
  • Experience with project work will be an advantage (e.g., demonstrated through a portfolio).
  • Strong background in design fabrication and curiosity towards collaborations with material scientists.
  • A research-oriented attitude.
  • The potential to publish academically or a track record of publications in Design-HCI areas.
  • Ability to work and collaborate with experts at the department of Industrial Design and the SFD Group at TU/e. The candidate will be granted access to facilities and equipment available at both departments.
  • Fluent in spoken and written English (C1 level).
  • Strong interpersonal skills with experience in interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly with designers and material scientists.
  • Open to engage in knowledge-transfer efforts between materials science and design towards industrial partners, spin-off companies, institutes and other universities.
  • Conditions of employment
  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university.
  • The opportunity to present your work at international conferences.
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self- aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.
  • Information and application

    About us

    Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands- on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.

    Curious to hear more about what it's like as a PhD candidate at TU/e? Please view the video.

    Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact Amy Winters, [email protected] and Albert Schenning [email protected].

    Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact HR Services, [email protected].

    Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


    We invite you to submit a complete application by using the 'apply now'-button on this page. The application should include a:

  • Cover letter (max. 1 page) in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications and the contact information of three references.
  • Portfolio in PDF format.
  • Brief description of your MSc thesis.
  • We look forward to your application and will screen it as soon as we have received it. Screening will continue until the position has been filled.

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