PhD-student: Building a soft artificial heart using soft hydraulic muscles

Date posted November 30, 2023
Type PhD positions

The Soft Robotic Matter group at AMOLF is looking for a PhD-student who will work together with the Holland Hybrid Heart (HHH) consortium on the design, fabrication and analysis of an artificial soft heart. The HHH consortium is a partnership between Erasmus MC, Eindhoven University of Technology, AMOLF, UTwente, Saxion, TU Delft, and several business partners. The consortium was awarded a 10M € grant by the Nederlandse Wetenschapsagenda. The HHH consortium aims in the next 7 years to conduct the necessary fundamental research, including the first chronic animal trials, to produce a soft artificial heart. The goal of the consortium is to mimic the natural contraction of the heart as much as possible, by generating a pulsatile flow, and coating the inside of the heart with a tissue-engineered lining. Our consortium acknowledges that this multidisciplinary project will only be successful if we work closely as a team.

In this project, your focus will be on constructing a soft artificial heart using soft hydraulic muscles. Previous endeavors within the group and the Hybrid Heart consortium have centered around employing soft pneumatic muscles for building a soft artificial heart. However, to enhance the safety and efficiency of the soft artificial heart, a shift towards using liquid instead of air to pressurize the soft artificial muscles is necessary. In this project, you will experimentally investigate the impact of utilizing liquids instead of air in an existing soft artificial heart prototype. For instance, you will determine the effect on maximum actuation frequency, efficiency, and durability. Based on these findings, you will then redesign the artificial heart prototype to enhance its performance. Throughout this project, you will utilize fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and heat sealing to manufacture the artificial heart. Additionally, you will employ fluidic control and measurement setups to validate the heart’s performance and develop new fabrication and measurement setups where needed. Active collaboration with researchers in the Soft Robotic Matter Group and the Holland Hybrid Heart consortium will be integral to the project’s success.

About the group

The Soft Robotic Mater group @AMOLF (See also: focuses on embodied intelligence within soft robotic devices, aiming to create autonomous robots capable of effective operation in their environments. To realize this goal, the group’s focus lies at the intersection of soft robotics and mechanical metamaterials. The group employs a combination of computational, experimental, and analytical tools to investigate how shape, non-linearities, and feedback can be strategically utilized to embody intelligent behavior in mechanical systems. The objective is to explore innovative – yet simple – avenues that extend the frontiers of knowledge, all while remaining dedicated to addressing real-world challenges that have a meaningful impact on society. We provide a highly collaborative and supportive environment, both within the group and institute, and through national and international collaborations.


You will need to meet the requirements for an MSc-degree, to ensure eligibility for a Dutch PhD examination. We welcome applications from motivated candidates from a diverse range of fields (E.g. Mechanical Engineering, Applied Physics, Material Science, Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science). A background in non-linear mechanics, soft robotics or mechanical metamaterials is an advantage, although we are open to candidates with a diverse range of backgrounds given sufficient motivation. We are looking for candidates that enjoy collaborating in a team, and that have a go-getter mentality in combination with a sound appetite for experimental and numerical work.

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of four years, with a starting salary of gross € 2,590 per month and a range of employment benefits. After successful completion of the PhD research a PhD degree will be granted at Eindhoven University of Technology. Several courses are offered, specially developed for PhD-students. AMOLF assists any new foreign PhD-student with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Dr. ir. J.T.B.(Bas) Overvelde
Group leader Soft Robotic Matter
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:
–  Resume;
–  Grade list; 
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page).

It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. This means that we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.
Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment. Hence, we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply.

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