M.Sc. projects

Student Projects in the LMTS – Fall 2021

If you are interested in a project, please contact the Ph.D. student or postdoc in charge of that project. The working languages in our group are English (primarily) and French.

For EPFL students:  Please note the LMTS is located in Neuchatel. Semester project students are expected to come to Neuchatel at least one day a week, while Master projects students are in Neuchâtel every day. Travel is reimbursed according to fixed HR rules.

For non-EPFL students, it is might be possible to do your Master’s project at the EPFL, project duration is 6 months. You must have your own funding.

Instructions for projects in our lab

 Instructions for semester projects

–  Evaluation criteria

Student projects on the following topical areas (for complete descriptions please scroll on down)

  1. Soft Robotics and Haptics
  2. MEMS and Printed Microsystems

1. SOFT ROBOTICS AND HAPTICS

Soft grippers can manipulate delicate objects while being able to lift several tens of times their own weight. We developed a soft gripper that achieves the most gentile touch thanks to a combination of artificial muscles and electroadhesion (see animated figure). We are now willing to integrate soft sensors into the gripper in order to make it “feel” the object and understand the properties of what it is touching.


Soft sensors are fabricated using a combination of dielectric and conductive elastomers, using cleanroom fabrication technologies such as casting, laser engraving, printing. Due to their multiple applications in soft robotics and wearable devices, they are currently a hot research topic.
The master project will be focused on either the modelling or the development of novel soft sensors for integration in a smart soft gripper.
Related publications:
[1] J. Shintake, S. Rosset, B. Schubert, D. Floreano, and H. Shea, “Versatile Soft Grippers with Intrinsic Electroadhesion Based on Multifunctional Polymer Actuators,” Advanced Materials, 2016.
[2] J. Shintake, V. Cacucciolo, D. Floreano, and H. Shea, “Soft Robotic Grippers,” Advanced Materials, 2018.

Type: 
Master project
Period:
Fall 2020
Section(s)
MT, ME
Type of work:
Soft actuator fabrication and modelling, Finite Element Model (FEM) simulations
Requirements:
Interest for soft and non-linear materials and soft robotics.
Subject(s):
Simulations, Dielectric Elastomer Transducers, non-linear materials.
Contact:
Vito Cacucciolo

Soft robots are a novel generation of robots made of elastomers. Most of soft robots rely on fluidic actuators, due to their robustness, large deformations and versatility. Current fluidic actuators are driven by an external pump that pushes the fluid.
We are developing a novel class of electrically-driven fluidic actuators where the pressure is directly generated inside the actuator: fluidic muscles that contract and expand responding to an applied voltage. Applications are numerous, ranging from mobile soft robots to wearables.
The master project will be focused on either modelling the physico-chemical fluidic transducers or on developing of the fluidic muscles.

Type: 
Master project
Period:
Fall 2020
Section(s)
MT, ME, MX
Type of work:
Design, fabricate and test a novel flexible pump
Requirements:
Interest for soft and non-linear materials, soft robots.
Subject(s):
Design, non-linear materials, soft robotics
Contact:
Vito Cacucciolo

2. MEMS & PRINTED MICROSYSTEMS

Bioresorbable materials, materials that can safely dissolve and be metabolized in the body, have recently gained interest for the development of medical implants for monitoring, stimulation or regeneration. Indeed, in certain cases, it is desirable for an implant to have only transient operation and disappear in time, for example for post-operative monitoring. In this project, we aim to develop smart transient implants made of soft and conformable materials, to sense physiological signals and detect bioanalytes. To this end, we apply additive manufacturing techniques, i.e. printing, to pattern functional materials, for their processing at low temperature and make the production of personalized implants possible, to address patient-specific needs.

We are currently developing an additive manufacturing platform to produce functional transient electronic devices. The project that is proposed entails the development of biocompatible sensors to detect physiological signals (temperature, pressure, ions and metabolytes concentrations) on degradable substrates. Depending on the interest of the student, focus can be given to materials and printing development for bioresorbable electically films and substrates, fabrication and characterization of electronic and sensing transient devices, design and architectures for deformable implants and their mechanical testing.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Fall 2021
Section(s) MT, MX, El, ME
Type of work: Experimental: device design, fab and characterisation
Requirements: Interest in additive manufacturing/printing, biomedical implants, transient electronics
Subject(s): Printed electrochemical transistors for biosensing
Contact: Nicolas Fumeaux & Danick Briand

As the world moves further into the Internet of Things era, the need for eco-friendly electronics increases. While biodegradable conductors and insulators are well studied, the field of green piezoelectrics is lacking – particularly in the development of eco-friendly processing methods. Filling this gap opens the door for a whole new range of green electronics – printed sensors, actuators, and energy generators that were previously inaccessible. Here we are developing fully biodegradable microsystems fabricated entirely using green additive manufacturing methods.

We are presently developing screen- and inkjet-printable biodegradable functional inks, conducting, insulator, piezoelectric,  working to optimize inks for printability and compatibility with the biodegradable substrate. This includes developing inks that are processed at the low temperatures needed for compatiblity with eco-friendly paper and biopolymers, and developing post-treatments to improve the printed material’s properties.

The student will work at the LMTS laboratory in Neuchâtel to develop the materials and functions needed to achieve a fully green microsystem. The student will work to optimize ink formulations, determine curing conditions, and fabricate appropriate test setups for producing functional devices.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Fall 2021
Section(s) MT, MX, EL, ME
Type of work: Design of experiments, sensors design, device fabrication and characterization
Requirements: Interest in experimental work, printing and testing devices
Subject(s): Piezoelectric materials and devices, digital printing, biodegradable microsystems
Contact: Morgan Monroe & Danick Briand

This project consists in the development of flexible and printed biosensors that can be easily interfaced with bio-fluids. These will be fabricated exploiting state-of-the-art printing technologies such as inkjet and aerosol jet printing. The project focuses on the fabrication of highly sensitive biosensors named organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs), with specific bio-functionalization (such as enzymes and antibodies) for achieving selectivity in the detection. OECTs are three terminal devices, similar to conventional transistors, with source, drain, gate electrodes, and an organic channel (such as PEDOT:PSS) between source and drain. For operating, an electrolyte solution connecting the gate and the channel should be present. Once a potential between the gate and the source is applied, the current passing in the organic layer is modulated. Developing OECTs on flexible substrates are highly demanding for wearable and implantable biomedical applications. Bio-functionalization of the sensors will be performed for the detection of different biomarkers relevant for health-care and sport applications, such as glucose, lactate, and creatinine. The printed transistors will be tested electrically in presence of the analyte to be detected in solution.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Fall 2021
Section(s) MT, MX, EL, LS
Type of work: Printing of flexible sensors, their chemical functionalization and testing
Requirements: Interest for biosensors and printing
Subject(s): Printed electrochemical transistors for biosensing
Contact: Silvia Demuru & Danick Briand

2D material has solid potential for the development of electrical biosensors such as field effect transistors(FET), Electrolyte gated transistors ( EGFET), and chemiresistors due to its two-dimensional geometry and high mobility which transduce the direct interaction of target analytes with a conductive medium to a measurable form of change in device response. 

This project aims to fabricate a fully printed chemiresistive/EGFET device which detects target biomarkers related to cancer and heart disease from the complex biological media such as blood/serum. The level of the biomarkers present in these fluids will be measured by monitoring the response of the device upon target interaction with the conductive channel. The sensitivity and reduction of Debye screening effect of the device will be attained by appropriate surface modifications and strong coupling between the target analyte interaction and the conductive channel medium. The key research tasks will be: fabrication of the stable device with high signal to noise ratio(SNR), identifying suitable surface modification and functionalization procedures which provides strong coupling to target, and sensing target analytes from the complex fluids.

The student main task will be focused on device design and device fabrication which includes optimization of printing 2D inks,  device characterization, surface modifications and functionalization towards target biomarkers detection, sensing the target analytes from the phosphates buffer saline (PBS). Further, it involves detection of the target analyte from complex fluids (blood/serum) for the real-time analysis. The student is expected highly motivated to work on multidisciplinary research with a high degree of independence as well as close collaborations within a team. Work experience in the printing process, device fabrication on flexible materials, and biosensing field are of advantage.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Fall 2021
Section(s) MT, MX, EL, LS
Type of work: Design of experiments, device fabrication, and characterization
Requirements: Interest in multidisciplinary work,  printing devices, surface chemistry and biosensing
Subject(s): Biosensing, digital printing, surface functionalisation, sensor technology, point of care analysis
Contact: Silvia Demuru & Danick Briand

We are developing printed metal-oxide (MOx) thin-film-transistors (TFTs) on flexible substrates such as polyethylene naphthalate (PEN), polyetherimide (PEI) at low temperature process by photonic annealing. Their processing is eventually compatible with temperature sensitive cellulosic and polymeric substrates.

High mobility, transparency and stability, are the advantages of MOx-based TFTs over their organic counterparts. Beside electronics, these devices can be of great interest also for sensing applications. In that sense, the MOx-based TFTs will be exploited in this project for bio-chemical sensing targeting the detection of ions, metabolites, proteins, thanks to a proper bio functionalisation of the transistors. 

Different aspects could be addressed in the frame of a semester or master project. One of the challenges to develop such disposable sensors is firstly the manufacturing of MOx-based transistors on temperature sensitive substrates, by finding out optimum printing and synthesis conditions. Secondly, specific design and post-functionalisation steps require to be addressed to use these transistors as biosensors. The work could involve the complete sensor’s development with its design, fabrication, and electro-chemical testing, or focus on more specific aspects according to the interest of the student.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Fall 2021
Section(s) MT, MX, EL
Type of work: Design, sensor fabrication and characterization
Requirements: Interest in sensors and printed electronics
Subject(s): Metal-oxide TFT biosensors
Contact: Jaemin Kim & Danick Briand

Currently, most wireless IoT devices and data loggers used for sensing rely on environmentally-harmful batteries and silicon chips. To bypass the need of those non-recyclable elements, the trend is shifting towards remote power coupling and chipless RFID strategies. In the frame of the SNF-Bridge project GreenSpack, we are developing very low-cost eco-friendly sensing tags made by the additive manufacturing of biodegradable materials on paper. These tags aim at monitoring and ensuring the quality of perishable goods, food, medicine, blood, organs, vaccines, during their transport. At their end of life, these tags could be recycled or safely disposed not being harmful to the environment.

In this student project, work will be performed on developing biodegradable wireless resonating elements for sensing applications. Depending on the interest of the student, the project can include the design and fabrication of the RF and sensing elements, the development and testing of biodegradable and their additive manufacturing, as well as the characterisation of the sensors and the RF resonators. The sensors will be developed for application at high frequency (GHz) with the wireless monitoring of environmental parameters such as temperature and humidity.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Fall 2021
Section(s) MT, MX, EL
Type of work: Sensors design, fabrication, modelling, and characterisation
Requirements: Interest in experimental work on sensing and green electronics
Subject(s): Printed biodegradable electronics, environmental sensing, RF tags
Contact: James Bourely & Danick Briand