PhD candidate: Memory, Pathways and Information in Mechanical Metamaterials

Research / Academic

The aim of this project is to develop and probe new classes of materials that can store and process information mechanically. Slender mechanical elements such as beams or curved sheets naturally undergo nonlinear instabilities, which lead to bistability that can be leveraged to store a bit of information (a). In this project we will integrate and couple multiple of such elements inside mechanical metamaterials (b). The general goal is to achieve materials that under repeated mechanical actuation, e.g., compression, leads to a sequence of configurational changes that we call a pathway. In particular, we aim to study metamaterials that count a sequence of compression cycles, by propagating a discrete wave or by performing a cyclical pathway, and metamaterials that mimic cellular automata as a paradigm of information processing (c). This is a completely new direction within the field of metamaterials, but over the past year we have developed various key ingredients for such systems; we are now ready to take this ambitious step.

Key responsibilities

  • You will be closely involved in the design and fabrication of flexible metamaterials, using finite element modeling in the design stage, and a range of 3D printing techniques for their fabrication;
  • Experimentally characterize and explore these materials, using our arsenal of mechanical testing devices and (3D) imaging techniques;
  • Analyze and model your data, and develop tools to do so in, e.g., Python;
  • Closely work together with other group members, who work on non-commuting metamaterials, memory in metamaterials and machine learning for metamaterials.


  • MSc degree in physics or related field;
  • A creative and talented student;
  • Willing to learn and combine new experimental and numerical skills;
  • An adventurous nature and a passion for science.

Salary Benefits:

We offer a  full-time 1 year term position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2.325,-  to €2.972,-  gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Work Hours:

36 - 38 hours per week


Niels Bohrweg 2