PhD position: Active Mechanical Metamaterials

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 15 Oct 2020

Are you interested in designer matter and non-equilibrium physics? The University of Amsterdam is seeking an excellent, highly motivated PhD candidate to carry out interdisciplinary research at the frontier of metamaterials and active matter.

Mechanical metamaterials have emerged as the most promising platform for the rational design of ‘extreme’ functionalities. Yet, this impressive progress is so far confined to the control of deformations that are passive and at thermodynamic equilibrium. This traditional focus severely limits our understanding of metamaterials and their potential for applications where dissipation is often a crucial aspect. In his project you will research how the extreme mechanics of metamaterials can be revolutionized by the use of active processes. You will explore the non-equilibrium (or so-called non-Hermitian) physics of active metamaterials. You will perform this research by developing a combination of theoretical, numerical and experimental tools.

Beyond advancing fundamental knowledge in physics of metamaterials and active matter, this project will open avenues for the damping of shock and vibration, relevant in a wide range of industries, from prosthetics to automotive and aerospace.

What are you going to do?

In this PhD project, you will push the limit of active metamaterials by:

  • engineering active processes at the scale of the metamaterials building blocks and exploring the active mechanics that emerges;
  • developing new methods for metamaterial research, by combining 3d printing, robotics, precision desktop experiments, numerical simulations and theory; collaborating with other members of the team, who work on dissipative metamaterials, machine learning for metamaterials and topological metamaterials - you will benefit from and contribute to a vibrant scientific environment.

What do we require?
  • A creative, curious and driven nature;
  • a strong background in physics and a Master’s degree in physics, mathematics, engineering, computational science or a related field;
  • an eagerness to learn new techniques and to combine numerical simulations, theory and experiments;
  • excellent written and oral communication skills in English.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,395 to €3,061 (scale P) gross per month based on 38 hours per week. This is exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities  is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here .


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

About the Faculty of Science 

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The PhD project will be carried out at the Machine Materials Laboratory , headed by Dr Corentin Coulais, and part of the Soft Matter Group within the Institute of Physics of the University of Amsterdam. The laboratory focusses on Mechanical Metamaterials and benefit from an exceptional scientific environment, in soft and condensed matter, computational physics and advanced materials.


The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 15 October 2020. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications should include:

  • a motivation letter, the motivation letter should state why you are specifically interested in the field of active metamaterials;
  • a CV, including list of grades;
  • a pdf version of your MSc thesis (or if not finalized yet, an abstract);
  • if applicable, pdf versions of your scientific publications;
  • the name and email address of at least two referees, who will be asked to upload their recommendation letters.


No agencies please

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