Beginning of PhD Courses: 1st November 2017
Opening of on-line applications: 07 July 2017 at 14.00 hrs (Italian Time)
Closing of on-line applications: 25 August 2017 at 13.00 hrs (Italian Time)
No tuition fees are envisaged to participate in the competitive examination for PhD Courses!
Example of possible research topics:
Study, analysis and development of kinetic-diffusion models of ligands-receptors interactions on cell membranes for the interpretation of various phenomenological aspects of cell molecular biology, in collaboration with researcher of the department of Molecular and Translational Medicine and of the department of Civil, Environmental, Architectural Engineering and Mathematics.
Model reduction in complex kinetic schemes, from combustion to biology
Development, implementation, application and comparisons of mathematical methods of model order reduction already proven successful for complex combustion kinetics, with the objective to ‘export’ and validate them to biological modelling frameworks requiring complex kinetic schemes.
Steepest entropy ascent in continuum mechanics
Analysis and development of models of plasticity and constitutive relations for complex fluids and microstructured solids. Formulation in terms of variational schemes such as ‘steepest entropy ascent’, GENERIC and ‘maximum entropy production’ by means of current methods of ‘non-equilibrium thermodynamics’.
Active membranes and sensors for detection/removal of persistent pollutants
Sensitive detection and efficient removal of micropollutants are challenging tasks in environmental remediation. This research activity aims at developing a new class of adaptive materials that can efficiently capture and remove various micropollutants, including drugs, persistent organic pollutants and inorganic species like hexavalent chromium and arsenite/arseniate ions. The micropollutants are captured by receptors obtained by either raw or waste materials and the individual components are integrated in membranes/adaptive scavengers able to operate in real working conditions.
Engineering nano- and microparticles for microwelding, nanofabrication and laser writing
Most of the critical steps in nanofabrication, microelectronics and additive manufacturing rely on precise control of melting processes at the micro- or even nanoscale. This research activity aims at taking advantage of nanointerface engineering for optimising the opto-thermal properties of core/shell beads and related heterostructures that can be applied to different laser-based processes, including micro- and nanowelding, nanofabrication, information storage, thermal and chemical sensing and photothermal therapy .
Analysis of propulsion systems for vehicles with low environmental impact
The path towards a higher environmental sustainability in the field of mobility has made an unexpected acceleration over the last ten years, especially when compared with the limited progresses made throughout the last century. This is promoting a transition to what is commonly referred to as “sustainable mobility”, characterized by a progressive replacement of traditional vehicles powered by fuels derived from fossil energy resources. The use of electricity and hydrogen is in fact a revolution in the automotive industry, leading to maturity of innovative technologies such as electric, hybrid and fuel cell propulsion systems. The study and development of innovative propulsion systems, based on energy carriers with low environmental impact, also integrated with on-board energy recovery systems, represents a research field with high level of multidisciplinarity and high potential for innovation.
Heat engines based on Rankine cycles and operating with unconventional working fluids
The need to resort to “sustainable” systems for energy production and energy conversion and the increasing use of renewable energies sources, require often the study of engines suited to different thermal sources and to different power sizes. The modes of operation and control must then meet the most varied situations and hence the opportunity to realize simple, reliable engines and the need to investigate its dynamic aspects too. Furthermore, the choice of working fluid and the configuration of the thermodynamic cycle affect the type and the size of the engine components. A detailed design of turbomachines and of heat exchangers requires sophisticated thermo-fluid-dynamic analysis techniques. At last, the working fluid must have the necessary thermal stability, at the operating temperatures and in presence of the materials with which the engine will be made. The study and development of Rankine cycle thermodynamic engines, operating with unconventional working fluids, represents a research field with a high level of multidisciplinarity and a high potential for innovation.
Stability monitoring of historical buildings with a cosmic ray tracking system
Primary cosmic rays are particles coming from the Sun and the outer space. Upon impact with the Earth’s atmosphere, they usually produce showers of secondary particles, mainly muons, which are extremely penetrating. Cosmic rays have been successfully used not only in scientific studies, but also in several industrial and civil applications, usually to inspect the inner composition of both artificial and natural structures. In this application environment, the research activity aims at using cosmic rays to monitor the stability of historical buildings, where mechanical or optical sensors could not be used. The research activity will concentrate in developing specific detectors for the application along with the measurement techniques. The final goal will be to build a fully operational prototype that could monitor the stability of a structure of small/medium dimensions.
Design and validate models predicting the diffusion through ultrathin oxide layers deposited by Atomic Layer Deposition for target applications
ALD has recently emerged as a powerful and widely used tool for many industrial and research applications. For example, ALD is widely employed in microelectronics and biomedical applications. Relevant are its uses to create diffusion barriers for gases and water, to avoid ion migration and, recently, also to control drug dissolution. In spite of the wide use of ADL, comprehensive models able to predict the physical-chemical properties of layers deposited with this technique is still missing, while this would be highly desirable for designing customized depositions having optimal properties for target applications.
Integrated Assessment modelling to support decision making in planning/controlling multi-dimension systems
Formalization, development, implementation and validation of mathematical models to simulate and forecast non-linear dynamical systems. Formalization, development, implementation and application of decision support and control systems for environmental (air pollution, climate change, ….), social, health , … systems.
Rheological investigation and modelling of semi-solid metals
Semi-solid processing of metals is an attracting technology due to its ability to produce sound casting. Lately, significant attention has been paid by automotive industries for the production of high performance and light parts. The process involves forming metallic alloys between the solidus and the liquidus. For the process to operate, the microstructure must consist of solid spheroids in the liquid matrix, rather than dendrites. In this condition, the material flows under a shear stress, allowing the complete filling of the mould cavity. Semi-solid metal alloys exhibit non-Newtonian flow properties, which do not only depend on the materials current thermal and kinetic state, but also on the respective histories. The aim of the study is to analyse the rheological properties of partially solidified alloys, by experimental tests, in order to understand the importance of yield stress. The obtained results can be useful to optimize the industrial process parameter. Furthermore, reliable experimental results can allow the validation of a thixotropic model to be implemented in simulation software.
3D printed anatomic models for surgical training
The field of interest is on ENT- and neuro-surgery. At the moment, optimal surgical training is at risk, being limited by residents’ hours restrictions. Specimens are expensive and some pathological conditions are impossible to simulate. The objective of this project is to create and validate surgical 3D models for pre-clinical surgical training produced with materials mimicking the human tissues and using Additive Manufacturing technologies.
Nanofiller elastomer composites
The use of nanoparticles (e.g. carbon nanotubes, graphene) as reinforcing fillers for elastomeric systems can impart specific properties, not achievable only with traditional fillers, such as anisotropic properties, reduced weight and functional properties. This project aims at exploit such effects for industrial applications of rubber components.
Recycling of rubber industrial scrap
Rubber recycling is more and more urgent for environmental reasons. During the production of technical rubber goods, much of the vulcanized product (flash) is a scrap, which has to be eliminated. This project aims at studying the reuse of such scrap and its reintroduction into the production process.
Supply chain energy efficiency
Energy efficiency has been largely neglected in supply chain and logistics. The production and logistics processes are usually seen as independent entities in which the objective of improving energy efficiency is targeted at the level of single companies. However, this myopic approach does not allow to fully discover the benefits achievable with energy efficiency with an assessment at the system level. The aim of this research is to identify how supply chain management can lead to increased opportunities for energy efficiency improvement and may represents an opportunity in overcoming the barriers of implementing energy efficiency measures. Mathematical modelling and optimisation of energy usage within different stages of the supply chain will represent a significant part of the work.
Industrial energy symbiosis
Industrial symbiosis represents a great opportunity for boosting energy efficiency, shifting the focus from a single industry to cluster of firms. Collaboration and synergistic possibilities offered by geographic proximity lead to great competitive advantages involving waste and resources flows. The aim of this research is to identify synergies currently applied and propose the introduction of foreseeable new synergies within different industrial distrctis aiming at reducing the energy and material utilization and environmental impact. Mathematical modelling and optimisation of energy and material flows will represent a significant part of the work.
Inventory models for management of energy storage systems
The proper design and management of energy storage systems is getting more and more important in practice. Energy storage systems are a promising way to make more efficient use of the power capacity of renewable energy sources (RES) and to improve the profitability of these systems. In fact, supporting an RES with an electrical energy storage system (EESS) helps to balance energy supply and demand by decoupling energy generation and consumption. The present research aims to implement traditional inventory management policies, generally applied to regular commodities, for optimally sizing and managing an EESS for a user of a renewable energy source (such as a photovoltaic system or a wind turbine). Mathematical modelling and optimisation of EESS will represent a significant part of the work.
Development of automated solutions for micro-assembling of embedded components
The manipulation of millimetric or submillimetric objects is quite challenging do to adhesive force that may produce sticking between the objects, the manipulation systems and the surrounding environment. Also precision is a must. And the design of several components have to be optimized for this applications. In this context specialized robotics solutions have to be developed. Application fields are very broad and include (but are not limited to) manipulation of electronics components, biological material, micromechanics.
Modelisation and control of industrial manipulators
The achievement of high performance of robot working cells require advanced control techniques which are based on kinematics and dynamics models of the manipulator and the other mechatronics components. Moreover the trajectory generation has to be optimized. The study of these issues may include theoretical research and experimental verification.
Mechatronics devices interacting with humans
While in the past the direct physical interaction between humans and machinery was very limited due to safety issues, the new developments of mechatronics open wider horizons. Different sensor-based techniques are under developments to assure that a safe contact and physical interaction is possible. Actual standard applications include Rehabilitation exoskeleton devices and Industrial collaborative robots.
Biomechanics of human movement
The Biomechanics of human movement has a lot of applications in several fields including (but not limited to) medical diagnosis and therapy, sport (improvements of performances and injuries prevention). The biomechanical study require often the analysis of the interaction with the environment and/or some devices. Devices may include (for instance) rehabilitation units or sport equipment. In these context kinematics and dynamics models have to be developed and their study concern theoretical and experimental investigations.
Research on collaborative robot precision operation and advanced motion planning based on multi-sensor in non-structural environment
Collaborative robots are the new paradigm on which some advanced robot applications are developed. In this context robots and human operators share a common physical environment to realize a task. Since the safety must be assured several methodology based on intelligent and reliable sensor integrated must be implemented.
Additive manufacturing of metal
Additive manufacturing of metal is becoming a mainstream fabrication process and its use continues to grow. This technique has gradually extended to include various types of metals like aluminum alloys and stainless steels, but also titanium or nickel alloys, as well as several other special materials. As known, the additive manufacturing of metal involves non-uniform temperature distributions and rapid thermal cycles that result in microstructures featured with porosity and anisotropy, which differ drastically from their cast or wrought counterparts. Such different microstructures critically affect the mechanical properties and corrosion resistance of AM products, also determining a different response to heat treatments. The aim of this research activity is the understanding of the microstructure evolution and consequent properties of AM metallic parts as a function of the heat treatment conditions, in particular in the case of Ti and Ni alloys.
Additive Manufacturing impact on Supply Chains
As the general attention of researchers and professionals towards additive manufacturing (AM) has gradually shifted away from prototyping purposes towards production-oriented approaches which can accommodate AM as a feasible manufacturing technology, it deems necessary to look closer into the research fields that are shaping main discussions about AM, and provide a more precise evaluation of AM implications in the manufacturing arena. In particular, the central core of this project is the evaluation of AM overall implications for firms’ supply chains, in terms of impacts on preparation (design, inbound logistics), production (pre-production, production, outbound logistics) and use (usage, service, end-of-life) phase.
Industry 4.0, a new digital era
Industry 4.0 is a vision of the future of manufacturing in which Information (i.e. Internet of things, cloud, big data) & Operational (i.e. additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics, augmented reality) Technologies are going to boost competitiveness and efficiency by interconnecting every resource (data, people and machinery) in the Value Chain. The idea behind this research stream is to identify and quantify the main benefits obtainable applying digital technologies on firms business processes. Secondly, it could be important to underline the organizational changes that are requested in order to fully reach the above mentioned benefits, sometimes identifying new business models. Last but not least, it’s necessary to depict over time the state-of-the-art in terms of knowledge and usage of these new digital technologies by manufacturing companies in Italy vs. the rest of the world.