Empa - the place where innovation starts

Empa is the research institute for materials science and technology of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society.
Empa's Laboratory of Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles offers a
Ph.D. position titled: Stabilizing Air Filled Structures for Decubitus Prevention in Pediatric Care
Pressure ulcers (PUs) are a common and highly relevant professional care issue in hospitals leading to high costs and prolonged stays. PU development depends on multiple factors, including persisting normal and shear forces suppressing tissue blood perfusion, prevalent in stabilizing structures such as mattresses or casts. This is particularly relevant for pediatric patients in neonatology or children rehabilitation.

For the development of air-filled stabilizing structures, a basic understanding is required of the skin physiology of pediatric patients and how risk factors such as pressure, temperature or humidity affect the risk for decubitus. The findings of scientific studies and the existing solutions for adults cannot be directly transferred to pediatric applications. The technical objective of this thesis is to develop stabilizing structures reducing the most critical risk factors. The goal of this thesis is to develop stabilizing structures to be applied during intensive care of infants reducing the risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Your tasks

  • Identification of the main risk factors for decubitus in neonates in collaboration with the children hospital
  • Define parameters for an individualized mattress design and control concept
  • Model the system physically to investigate interaction and understand behavior in contact with a body
  • Develop mattress designs for different sized bodies with varying weight Investigate and characterize material properties for air chambers with defined properties and surface characteristics
  • Investigation of pressure distribution in air mattresses with different chamber shapes and sizes
Your profile


Administration: A project duration of 3-4 years is envisaged to carry out the above research tasks in the form of a PhD project. The candidate will perform his research at Empa in St. Gallen and will get the PhD degree from ETHZ (Department of Health Science and Technology). The desired starting date is 1st of September 2021 or upon mutual agreement.
For further information about the position please contact Martin Camenzind martin.camenzind@empa.ch and visit our websites www.empa.ch/web/s401 and see our  Empa-Video

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV including publications and presentations, diplomas with transcripts/grades, and two referees' contact details. Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.

Empa, Esther Zürcher, Human Resources, Lerchenfeldstrasse 5, 9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland.