PhD Gallisense Sensor Design

The Cluster of Excellence livMatS develops completely novel, bioinspired 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 sciences.

The livMats Cluster of Excellence is offering the following PhD position for the project:

Gallisense - Giving materials the ability to sense

Envisaged starting date is January, 1st, 2023

Project description
The livMatS GALLISENSE Project aims to provide a robust and scalable approach to empower material self-sensing, like state reporting and state switching by making use of a hydraulic readout systems based on Gallium liquid metal microfluidics. The material will be able to feel external stimuli, in form of mechanical deformation, such as a load being applied to the material, by displacement of the channel segments in the hydraulic system.
In this project you will focus on developing an innovative passive sensing method, which uses the conductive properties of the gallium droplets to monitor the metal segments inside microfluidic channels, hence the state of the material and the presence of external stimuli continuously. To do this you will design resonators made of gallium droplets, in which the position change of the liquid metal segments will cause a variation either of the capacitance or of the inductance of the resonator. The liquid metal segments will work as an antenna so that the position changes can be interrogated similar to a configurable RFID tag and thus allow state querying from the outside without the need of additional electronics on the material side.

Candidate profile
We are looking for candidates (m/w/d) with a university degree in physics, microsystems engineering, electronics engineering, or a comparable subject. You have experience in sensor development, characterization and hardware design. Hands-on experience with polymer fabrication is an advantage. You have experience with FEM simulations (COMSOL, Ansys, or similar software). You have measurement and test competences, experience with measurement equipment (power supplies, multimeters, oscilloscopes), data analysis and results interpretation. You are interested in working in an inspiring interdisciplinary and young team with great emphasis on publications and publicity. You possess critical thinking and problem-solving skills, are self-motivated and able to prioritize among competing tasks.

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 (BA and MA certificate / Diploma certificate and transcript)
• Short summary of your master’s 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. This position is limited to 36 months. The 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 00002489, Application deadline is October 21, 2022. Application is to be emailed as ONE SINGLE PDF FILE to

Direct all scientific questions about the project to Dr. Laura Comella