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PhD Design of effective microfluidic pumps based on metachronal dynamics

PhD Design of effective microfluidic pumps based on metachronal dynamics

The Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering has a vacancy for PhD student Design of effective microfluidic pumps based on metachronal dynamics of magnetic artificial cilia (V35.4555).
Faculteit Werktuigbouwkunde


Microfluidics is a fast developing technology, promising to bring benefits such as low cost, high throughput and easy-to-use applications in various fields such as medical diagnosis, drug discovery and energy. Although the field of microfluidics has made large strides in recent years, the adoption of microfluidic technologies in industry has been sluggish and the promised ‘disruptions’ have yet to be seen. An important reason is that the techniques and materials available still cannot fully support the application downstream to fulfill all the promised functions and benefits compared with established methods. One of the key elements in any microfluidic system is handling of small volume of samples and reagents, which can save cost and shorten readout time. However, most labs still use syringe pumps for fluid handling, which simply nullifies the claim of ‘small volume’; and the existing methods to handle fluids of very small volumes, such as by gravity, capillary forces or electrowetting, all have significant restrictions in flow-control or biocompatibility. Therefore, for real applications, it’s highly important to develop ‘zero dead volume’ internal microfluidic pumps that are highly effective while being fully controllable.

The Microsystems group at TU/e has been a pioneer in using artificial cilia as internal actuators for fluid handling in small volumes. Started as an inspiration from nature, magnetic artificial cilia, with their remote actuation and inert nature, are especially attractive in bio-related applications. However, natural cilia exhibit metachronal behavior, which greatly enhances transportation of fluids2, while the movement of magnetic cilia in all the current designs exhibit only synchronized movements, which are less efficient for flow generation and severely hamper versatility. Therefore, the generation of metachronal movement is essential for real applications of microfluidic pumps based on magnetic artificial cilia.

Our aim is to design and create an enhanced microfluidic pump based on metachronal cilia motion. The challenge is to evoke collective dynamical behavior to achieve metachronal motion. It is possible to invoke complex motion utilizing various mechanical interactions presented in a system comprised of artificial cilia, such as hydrodynamic interaction or mechanical coupling through the substrate. The work consists of (1) developing advanced microfabrication techniques for artificial cilia fabrication, and (2) uncovering and utilizing complex dynamic behavior of cilia arrays to achieve controlled metachronal motion. 


The PhD student will be mainly supervised by Dr. Ye Wang from the Microsystems group, and co-supervised by Dr. Erik Steur from Dynamics and Control group and Dr. Tess Homan from Power and Flow group. Microsystems group is a part of the Institute of Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS). The Microsystems group manages the Microfab lab, a state-of-the-art micro fabrication facility that houses a range of micro manufacturing technologies – microfluidics technology is one of the main research pillars of the group.


We are looking for an ambitious, self-motivated and proactive candidate who is comfortable working in a team with different experts.

The candidate needs to:

  • be motivated and confident in conducting multidisciplinary research;
  • be a critical thinker, have an analytical mindset;
  • have experience or interest in doing hands-on laboratory work in microfabrication;
  • have a strong affinity in mathematical and numerical modeling and analysis;
  • has an open personality and good communication skills in written and spoken English;
  • is expected to contribute to education activities, like supervising BSc and MSc projects.


We offer you:

  • An exciting job in a dynamic work environment and multidisciplinary consortium.
  • A full time appointment for four years by Eindhoven University of Technology (
  • A gross monthly salary from € 2395 (first year) to € 3061 (fourth year) in line with the Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • The possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A personal development program for PhD students (Information on the PROOF program can be found on:
  • An attractive package of fringe benefits, including end-of-year bonus (8,3% in December), an extra holiday allowance (8% in May), moving expenses and excellent sports facilities.

Informatie en sollicitatie

Further information can be obtained from: Dr. Ye Wang, e-mail

Your application can be addressed to Dr. Ye Wang. Applications must include a personal motivation letter, a Curriculum Vitae including the names and contact details of at least two references, and an overview of current research activities and interests (1-2 pages). Only complete applications will be considered. Consideration of the candidates will begin immediately, until the position is filled.