Postdoc on “smart composites for humanoid robots” - [ Postdoc ]

Workplace: Genova, IIT
Added on: 11/07/2018 - Expires on: 31/01/2019

The iCub team ( and the Smart Materials Research Line ( at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) are seeking to appoint a postdoctoral fellow to work on the topic of Smart Composites for Humanoid Robots.

We are looking for a talented and enthusiastic postdoctoral fellow to develop new robot body solutions based on a number of “smart materials” that have been recently designed at IIT. More specifically, we plan to develop materials for our humanoid robots with, for example, improved mechanical, electrical, thermal properties, while being lower in cost and fabrication complexity. The project requires mixing different skills, namely, material science, engineering, and robotics. The ideal candidate is proficient in mechanical design, development of polymeric composites, structural characterization of polymers, as well as chemistry with a solid understanding of the physics of polymers. We expect all design activities to stem from a principled experimental approach that satisfies the constraints imposed by the robot’s mechanics, as for example its overall size and structural requirements combined with the proper materials development techniques in order to obtain robotics parts effective in terms of robustness, resolution, spatial distribution, etc. To this purpose, physical simulations may be employed. The resulting materials will be tested and employed directly on our robot prototypes in experiments involving human-robot physical interaction as well as object manipulation.

Additional information

This research is part of a large-scale project, funded directly by IIT, which aims at developing innovative robotic technologies based on new materials. For robots to be commercially feasible in the long term, notwithstanding the improvement of their general performance level, we must investigate issues such as cost, dependability, robustness, and sustainability. Material science bears the promise of addressing these issues consistently and for good. We have therefore funded the design of new material-based robots where for example:

  • We reduce the cost of the robot by utilizing mainly thermoplastic polymeric composites that can be either 3D printed or produced by injection molding;
  • We increase dependability and robustness by developing new materials for electronics that can directly integrated on the robot’s scaffold/structure;
  • We develop better flexible sensors that can be stretched and deformed without breaking;
  • We reduce the power requirement by utilizing neuromorphic sensing strategies which are intrinsically low-power;
  • We investigate the use of sustainable materials that can biodegrade at the end of their life.

Required qualifications/skills

  • PhD in material science, chemistry, physics, material engineering or related fields;
  • Ability to communicate proficiently in English (written and spoken);
  • Experience in the development of polymeric composites.

Desired skills

  • Knowledge of basic 3D printing, injection molding and/or other polymeric material fabrication methods;
  • Knowledge of typical robotic structure and related technologies;
  • Experience in composite material science, engineering and manufacturing technologies;
  • Knowledge of parametric 3D CAD tools;
  • Experience in thermomechanical and electrical characterization of materials.

The successful candidate will be offered a salary commensurate to experience and skills.

Please apply by January 31, 2019, by sending your application to quoting exactly BC75652 – SM2 – Postdoc on smart composites for humanoid robots in the e-mail subject. Your application shall contain a detailed CV, a research statement, and contact information of two reference persons.

Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT, is a non-profit institution that promotes technological development and higher education in science and technology. IIT’s research program seeks innovation and following a multidisciplinary approach at all levels. Our scientists can count on state of the art laboratories.

Privacy information

In responding/applying to this call please note that:

  • Information will be used solely for the purpose of evaluating and selecting the best professional profiles to meet the needs of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia;
  • Data will be process by the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, headquartered in Genoa (ITALY), Via Morego 30, acting as Data Controller, in compliance with the rules on protection of personal data and data security;

Please also note that, pursuant to articles 15 et. seq. of the European Regulation no. 679/2016 (General Data Protection Regulation), you may exercise your specific rights at any time by contacting the Data Protection Officer (phone +39 010 71781 - email:

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia is an Equal Opportunity Employer that actively seeks diversity in the workforce.

Involved Research lines
iCub Smart Materials


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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.