M.Sc. projects

Student Projects in the LMTS – Fall 2019 & Spring 2020

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 set HR rules.

For non-EPFL students, it is generally 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


1.1 Soft sensors for a smart soft gripper

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:
Spring 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

1.2 Fluidic muscles for soft robots

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:
Spring 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

2.1. Additive manufacturing of transient bioelectronic implants

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: Spring 2020
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

2.2 Printed organic electrochemical transistors for biosensing metabolites and proteins

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: Spring 2020
Section(s) MT, MX, 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

2.3 Printing thin film metal-oxide transistors on temperature sensitive packaging foil for smart applications

We are developing printed metal-oxide (MOx) thin-film-transistors (TFTs) on flexible substrates such as paper and biopolymers for smart packaging applications. High mobility, possible transparency and stability, are the advantages of MOx-based TFTs over their organic counterparts. The devices can be used as electronic but also sensing devices. The main challenge is to manufacture them using additive processes, i.e. printing, on temperature sensitive substrates.

The project proposed here can include different type of work depending on the interest of the student. The work can be focused more on the printing challenges including photonic curing processes to fabricate metal-oxide transistors at low temperature. The project could also involve design and optimization of electronic or sensing applicative devices. Electrical performances and morphological characteristics, as function of the process parameters, will be evaluated according to the set goals for better understanding and optimization of processes and devices.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Spring 2020
Section(s) MT, MX, EL
Type of work: Design, device fabrication and characterization
Requirements: Interest in printing processes, transistors, flexible electronics, sensing
Subject(s): Printing metal-oxide thin-film transistors
Contact: Alessio Mancinelli & Danick Briand

2.4 Microfluidic flexible patch for sweat analysis

Sweat analysis is gaining interest due to the possibility to continuously and non-invasively monitor analytes changes. One most used technique to pattern disposable, cheap and high quality electrochemical sensors is screen printing. Moreover, the integration in a wearable microfluidics system could allow to continuously sample and analyze the sweat produced. Such an integrated platform with sensors and microfluidics, could revolutionize personalized health-care.

The student will work at the LTMS laboratory and their work aims to detect and discriminate the sweat analytes using integrated sweat platform. These sweat platforms are required to be flexible and simple to be interfaced with the skin. In this project, work will be performed on microfluidics systems for continuous analysis of sweat biomarkers for real-time monitoring, with the goal of achieving multi-analyte detection. The student is expected to perform testing and analyzing of sweat analytes using sweat patch in artificial and real sweat. Depending on the interest of the student, focus could be more on the electrochemical sensors fabrication and integration in micro-fluidics or testing and characterization of the microfluidic system.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Spring 2020
Section(s) MT, MX, EL, LS
Type of work: Bio-chemical sensing and data analysis
Requirements: Interest in sensing, microfluidics, system testing
Subject(s): Bio-chemical sensors, sweat analysis, wearable microfluidics
Contact: Brince Paul & Danick Briand

2.5 Graphene based flexible and printed resistive biosensors

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: Spring 2020
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, printing, digital printing, surface modifications, sensor integration
Contact: Brince Paul & Danick Briand

2.6 Biodegradable piezoelectric microsystems towards green printed electronics

As the world moves further into the Internet of Things era, the need for eco-friendly electronics increases. There is currently a huge push for systems that are not only made of green materials, but are also fabricated using green processes. 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 piezoelectric microsystems fabricated entirely using green additive manufacturing methods.

We are presently developing screen- and inkjet-printable piezoelectric inks using a selection of biodegradable piezo-materials; working to optimize inks for printability, useful and reliable piezo-response, and compatibility with the biodegradable substrate and electrode materials used in device fabrication. Development of such an ink is a uniquely difficult engineering challenge, so we are utilizing several strategies to resolve the issues. This includes developing inks that are processed at the low temperatures needed for compatiblity with eco-friendly paper substrates, and developing post-treatments to improve the printed material’s piezo-response via poling and material texturing. The many challenges for this project make it a highly multidisciplinary project which will require input from many fields of science and engineering.

The student will work at the LMTS laboratory in Neuchâtel under the SNF GreenPiezo project to develop the materials, testing systems, and devices needed to achieve a fully green piezoelectric device. 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: Spring 2020
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

2.7 Electronic system design and Internet of Things (IoT) for Biosensors

Integrated biosensors and IoT are emerging technologies in healthcare.  For the development of fully integrated biosensors, the electronic circuit system is essential for the in situ signal conditioning, data processing, and communication.  The focus of this project is to develop hybrid platforms combining biosensing components with integrated circuits and data transmission to the smart phone through WIFI/Bluetooth.   The signal conditioning unit will be implemented with analog circuits, including isolation amplifiers for impedance matching, instrumentation amplifiers, filters, and integration with microcontrollers for data transmission. The data could be wirelessly transmitted to a smartphone and analyzed using custom-built android application. The first approach aims to work with discrete electronic components and surface mounted devices(SMD) for data acquisition and analyzing. The final approach aims to develop a whole integrated system using a flexible circuit board.

The student main goal will be focused on circuit design ( initial simulations using multisim/ spice are welcome),  implementation, and testing.  Further, it involves integration of printed sensors and data transmission for the real-time analysis. The student should be familiar with basic circuit design and data acquisition. Work experience in SMD based circuit development, flexible PCB design, integration with microcontrollers and  programming, and development of an android application  is not a must but will be an advantage.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Spring 2020
Section(s) MT, EL
Type of work: Circuit design,  testing, sensor interfacing
Requirements: Basics in circuit design, Interest in circuit design, IOT, and android development
Subject(s): Electronic system design, IOT, wireless communication
Contact: Silvia Demuru & Danick Briand

2.8 3D printed wearables with integrated wireless sensors for motion analysis

3D printing has met a surge in interest due it opening up new ways of manufacturing. Especially in the field of personalized healthcare this is of interest, as 3D printing would allow wearable medical monitoring devices to be custom-made per patient. Especially when it comes to long-term injuries, it would be of great benefit to track the patient’s recovery as accurately as possible. Therefore, new technologies need to be developed which make this possible.

The student will work at the LMTS laboratory and their work will fit in the frame of the D-SENSE project, which aims to digitally fabricate sensing elements inside 3D printed wearables, required for the motion analysis. These wearable devices are required to be stretchable, as to allow body motions. In this project, work will be performed on developing new routes to fabricate the sensors and communication elements inside stretchable 3D printed materials. Development of this is key to real-time motion monitoring. The student is expected to use various digital printing techniques, meaning, digital models (CAD) will be designed and fabricated using 3D and 2D printing techniques.

Type: Semester or Master project
Period: Spring 2020
Section(s) MT, MX, EL, ME
Type of work: Design of experiments, sensors design, fabrication, and characterization
Requirements: Interest in experimental work, 3D printing, wearable devices
Subject(s): 3D printing, wearable technology, digital printing, sensor integration, wireless communication
Contact: Ryan van Dommelen & Danick Briand