PhD Opportunity: Development of Bioinspired Soft Machines



PhD Supervisor: Dr Adam Stokes

Application Deadline: open until position filled

Funding Availability: Open to UK/EU/Overseas applicants. Studentships will cover University fees (at UK/EU or overseas rate), plus a stipend for 3.5 years at the enhanced EPSRC rate (£14,640 for 2013/14). 

Research Area: Integrated Micro and Nano Systems 

Project description:

Robots are usually built with hard materials (hard robots), typically they include grippers, wheels, and/or limbs to perform a specific set of tasks. Despite huge advances in recent years, hard robots still have many inherent limitations. They: are limited in the range of motions they can achieve; require complex control systems; and are often heavy and expensive. 

In contrast, our designs are based on inspiration drawn from the form-and-function of animals such as the octopus, starfish, and worm. These animals, each lacking an internal skeleton, suggest designs for soft-machines that are simpler to make, less expensive than hard robots, and are capable of complex movements, locomotion and functions. Simple, inexpensive systems will probably not replace more complex and expensive ones, but may have different uses, such as: surgery, assisted-living, and search-and-rescue. 

This PhD research project focuses on the development of this new class of machines: soft robots. These are machines, fabricated in soft materials (typically elastomeric polymers), that do not use a rigid structure to provide mechanical strength. 

The successful candidate will work in the Soft Systems Group, within the Institute for Micro and Nano Systems, at The University of Edinburgh. They will design, build, and evaluate new types of soft machines that include actuators, electronics, sensors, and biosensors: To build these smart soft systems they will work closely with collaborators within The School of Engineering and The School of Informatics; and externally with leading international research groups. 

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Eligibility and qualifications:

Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit: a first class or upper second class honours undergraduate degree (or International equivalent) is the minimum qualification requirement. To undertake this research, we are seeking a motivated candidate with a degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Physics or a cognate discipline. Further education to Masters level would be preferred. Experience in undertaking experimental work; and an ability to communicate with, and work effectively alongside, researchers from a wide range of backgrounds will be necessary.  

Please apply through the Apply link below

Select the Research Area referred to in the advert and clearly state on your application form which project you are applying for and the relevant supervisor.

Informal Enquiries to: [email protected]

Further information: www.eng.ed.ac.uk/drupal/imns/home.html

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