PhD position on guiding and confining mechanical wave energy in 3D chiral metamaterials

Materials science and technology are our passion. With our cutting-edge research, Empa's around 1,100 employees make essential contributions to the well-being of society for a future worth living. Empa is a research institution of the ETH Domain.
This position is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Doctoral Candidate Position (DC09) within the MetacMed Doctoral Network.

Applications are invited from suitable qualified candidates for a full time, 36 months fixed-term position, as a Doctoral Candidate (DC) on the MetacMed Doctoral Network at Empa.
This position is DC09, which is one of 12 DCs being recruited as a part of a European-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network (DN) on Acoustic and mechanical metamaterials for biomedical and energy harvesting applications– ‘MetacMed’.

The successful applicant will be enrolled on a PhD programme at ETH Zürich, and will work on the topic of “Guiding and confining wave energy in 3D chiral metamaterials” under the supervision of Dr. Andrea Bergamini, Empa, Laboratory for Acoustics/Noise Control and under the academic supervision of Prof. Dr. Dennis Kochmann, ETH-Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering. Secondments at Amazement, Warsaw (PL), 4 months, and CNRS Lille (FR), 4 months, are foreseen for this position.

Your tasks

As doctoral candidate within this project you will work on practical implementations of metamaterials for vibration reduction. Standard metamaterial modelling considers an infinite periodic structure consisting of a single unit cell. Practical applications require addressing 2 additional questions: (i) how do edges of finite samples affect the efficiency and (ii) can transmission reduction be achieved by aperiodic structures. To do this
  • You create large-scale finite element models of complex dynamic structures and analyse their vibrational properties
  • You investigate the behaviour of 0-dimensional 2-dimensional and 3- dimensional defects in (chiral) metamaterials, with respect to the propagation and confinement of mechanical power, using numerical and analytical methods
  • You design and measure prototypes to validate the numerical models
  • You delve into the possibilities of several classes of materials, such as viscoelasticity or piezoelectricity, and identify the ideal solution for specific problems.

Your profile

  • At the time of application, I have not been awarded with a PhD;
  • I have not resided in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the appointment;
  • I hold a Master’s degree (or other equivalent) in Mechanical, Structural/Civil, Biomedical, Physics or Materials Engineering (or related disciplines). I have an excellent academic track record.
  • During my courses or prior professional activities, I have gathered some experience with at least one of the following: principles of vibrations and acoustics, structural dynamics, numerical modelling techniques (finite element method), or experimental methods in acoustics. I have a profound interest for these topics.
  • As a researcher I perform research in a structured and scientifically sound manner. I read technical papers, understand the nuances between different theories and implement and improve methodologies myself.
  • In frequent reporting, varying between weekly to monthly, I show the results that I have obtained and I give a well-founded interpretation of those results. I iterate on my work and my approach based on the feedback of my supervisors which steer the direction of my research.
  • It's important for me to work as an active team member and I am eager to share my results to inspire and being inspired by my colleagues.
  • I regard this PhD program in the frame of the MSCA Doctoral Network as my step on path to scientific excellence. I am excited to represent the MetacMed research group at project meetings and conferences. I see these events as an occasion to disseminate my work to an audience of international experts and research colleagues, and to learn about the larger context of my research and the research project.
  • I look forward to my secondments at other Institutions that are participating in this project.

Our offer

You stay in a vibrant environment centrally in Europe. Empa has its main campus in Dübendorf, located close to Zurich and 20 minutes by tram from Zurich International Airport. Zurich is one of the cities with the highest quality of life worldwide, welcoming to non-German speaking people and with ample opportunities for social, cultural, and outdoor activities.

The Laboratory for Acoustics/Noise control is equipped with state of the art tools for the numerical and experimental investigation of the propagation of waves in solids, and of their acoustic properties, and enjoys access to the facilities of a World leading Materials Research Institution.
Empa supports equal opportunities such as the compatibility of work and other life areas and lives a culture of inclusion and respect. We are committed to increase the diversity of our team and encourage qualified people from all backgrounds and genders to apply for this position.

Only applicants who have not been resident in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the 36 months preceding the effective starting date of this contract, are eligible for this position. Further information about the eligibility criteria is available here. 

This position is funded by SBFI, in association with the Horizon Europe Marie Sklodowska-Curie Doctoral Network programme.The deadline for the application is July 31st 2024. Starting date is September 2024 or upon mutual agreement.
We live a culture of inclusion and respect. We welcome all people who are interested in innovative, sustainable and meaningful activities - that's what counts.
We look forward to receiving your complete online application including a letter of motivation, CV, certificates, diplomas and contact details of two reference persons. Please submit these exclusively via our job portal. Applications by e-mail and by post will not be considered.
David Heusser, HR Partner


  Dr. Andrea Bergamini
Group leader
Acoustics/Noise Control
+41 58 765 4424

Your future place of work

Ueberlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf

Empa as an employer

Innovative, sustainable, meaningful activities
Creating added value for society
International, multicultural working environment
Freedom to create and develop
Culture of inclusion and respect
Excellent balance between different areas of life
Multiple award-winning and certified employer
Benefits for rail, mobile, childcare, catering, etc.