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PhD position: Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting with Responsive Metamaterial Surfaces – ThermoMetaS

The Cluster of Excellence „Living, Adaptive and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems” (livMatS) welcomes applications for a PhD position: Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting with Responsive Metamaterial Surfaces – ThermoMetaS
  • Bewerbungsfrist: 04.09.2022
  • Veröffentlicht: 03.08.2022
  • Start-date: At the earliest possible date.
  • Part-time position (65 %)
  • Kennziffer: 00002443


The Cluster of Excellence „Living, Adaptive and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems” (livMatS) develops life-like materials systems inspired by nature. The systems will adapt autonomously to their environment, harvest clean energy from it, and be insensitive to damage or recover from it.. 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 ThermoMetaS project, aims to develop a 3D printable self-contained metamaterial system capable of harvesting thermal energy from its surroundings and acting autonomously to external temperature changes by altering its shape. The project is comprised of two research parts; the one offered here, is focused on development, implementation and miniaturization of existing ThermoBatS harvesters as actors. In the livMatS project ThermoBatS, micro-thermoelectric generators (μTEG) with phase change materials (PCMs) as thermal buffers in the form of PCM-μTEG-PCM stacks have been developed mostly for energy harvesting purposes. The ThermoMetaS projects focuses on the optimization of these existing systems as mechanical actuators, both under natural temperature changes and actively controlled by using the µTEG as a Peltier device. For the device fabrication, techniques like high energy ball milling, dispenser printing, spin coating, uni-axial hot pressing and laser micro-structuring are used. In parallel, another part of the project will develop methods for 3D printing of the PCM components as well as electrical connections and even thermoelectric materials. Therefore, the fabrication methods will be adapted over time.

The task in the ThermoMetaS project will involve:

  • Knowledge transfer from the ThermoBatS project
  • Adaptation and implementation of the harvester part of the project
  • Development/adaptation and implementation of the actuator system
  • Implementation of 4D printing technology into the fabrication process

The final goal of the project, is to develop technology demonstrators together with all project partners, to showcase some mechanical actuation and storage concepts, e.g. a slow reacting proportional system, a fast system based on a μTEG-PCM stack combined with a bi-stable membrane and a system with an integrated ratcheting mechanism to store mechanical energy – to name a few.

The ThermoMetaS project poses challenges in the fields of microsystems and electrical engineering as well as chemistry and physics, which have to be meet by one candidate working mostly independent on the topic. Supervision and guidance will be provided by experts from the respective fields but the applicant will be the link between the different areas. The candidate is therefore required to have a strong background in either micro systems engineering, physics or chemistry AND to have a strong interest in training him- or herself in the other fields as necessary for the project. The candidate will work on his / her topic in a community lab space in close collaboration with other team members, with similar topics. Therefore, very good written and spoken English skills as well as communication skills and the ability to work in a team are required for this position. Spoken German skills would be preferred, but are not mandatory.

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 E13 TV-L.

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 00002443, by 04.09.2022 at the latest. Please send your application to the following address in written or electronic form:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Cluster of Excellence livMatS
Dr. Uwe Pelz
Georges-Köhler-Allee 105
D-79110 Freiburg
Kennwort: livMatS - ThermoMetaS
E-Mail address for applications: positions@livmats.uni-freiburg.de (please send one PDF file only)

For further information, please contact Herr Dr. Uwe Pelz on the phone number +49 761 203-7503,203-95102 or E-Mail uwe.pelz@imtek.uni-freiburg.de.