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PhD positions in mechanics of materials and computational mechanics

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2019/20 PhD programs at the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Lucca, Italy

Deadline for applications – April 23rd, 2019, 12 pm CEST

Online application form:

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019/20 PhD Programs at the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca (, one of the six Schools of Excellence in Italy and one of the highest rated graduate schools in Europe according to the U-Multirank survey. Highly motivated candidates from all disciplines are invited to apply for one of the 32 fully-funded four-year scholarships.

Within the Systems Science PhD programme, Computer Science and Systems Engineering track, research in computational mechanics within the research unit MUSAM on Multi-scale Analysis of Materials ( is concerned with the development of computational methods to study advanced problems in solid mechanics and fluid mechanics for the characterization, simulation and prototyping of materials and structures. The approach pursues an original integration of methodologies belonging to mechanics, numerical analysis, materials science, and applied chemistry, in order to advance on the fundamental issues of sustainability, durability and reliability of materials.

Experimental facilities for materials testing in the MUSAM-Lab will complement the research on computational methods.

The program of studies is based on a set of common courses, covering the fundamentals of numerical linear algebra and numerical methods for differential equations, computer programming, dynamical systems and control, numerical optimization, stochastic processes, and machine learning. These are followed by a number of advanced courses and research seminars related to the different specializations.

A selection of suggested PhD topics is the following:

High performance computing for nonlinear coupled problems in solid and fluid mechanics

Nonlinear coupled problems governed by partial differential equations in solid and fluid mechanics arise in many engineering and biological applications where multiple fields (displacement, damage, thermal, humidity, electric, etc.) are strongly interacting with each other. The present research topic envisages a critical analysis and development of novel numerical strategies for the solution of nonlinearly coupled boundary value problems within the finite element method. Specifically, implicit and explicit numerical schemes, as well as monolithic and staggered solvers, along with suitable high performance computing strategies, will be developed for a wide range of problems selected for their relevance in industrial applications and failure analysis. Prospective applicants are expected to hold a degree in engineering, mathematics, physics, or computer science.

Adhesive and cohesive failures in structural adhesives: interplay between chemistry and mechanics

Structural adhesives are used in many industrial applications and are currently designed to guarantee a prescribed load carrying capacity and optimal sealing of the joint. Failures of such joints can be either cohesive or adhesive. In the former case, the crack pattern takes place across the adhesive material, which has its own thickness. In the latter, the interface between the adhesive and the substrate is the weakest link and it leads to premature delamination. In many intermediate situations, both failure modes are concurrently observed. This research topic aims at fully characterizing such failure modes and at understanding how chemical surface treatments can affect the mechanical response of the joint. Both experimental tests in the MUSAM-Lab and numerical research by exploiting the capabilities of the novel phase-field formulation for fracture coupled with the cohesive zone model for delamination will be conducted. Prospective applicants are expected to hold a degree in applied chemistry, materials science, engineering, physics or mathematics.

Contact mechanics between rough surfaces: advanced computational modelling and simulation

Roughness plays a key role in surface phenomena such as surface physics (heat and electric transfer, hydrophobicity, etc.), surface chemistry (chemical reactions, diffusion, etc.) and tribology (stress transfer, adhesion, lubrication, etc.). Frontier research topics regard the development of finite element-based computational methods allowing for the simulation of contact problems with multiple fields and nonlinear constitutive relations, taking also into account the emergent behaviour induced by microscopic surface roughness. The present research will exploit the new MPJR finite element framework recently published by Paggi and Reinoso, further extending it to rough surfaces in tangential contact and under the action of multiple fields. Joint co-supervision with Prof. Reinoso will be proposed, allowing for the appointment of a double PhD degree at IMT and at the University of Seville, Spain. Prospective applicants are expected to hold a degree in engineering, physics or mathematics.

Optimization of additive manufacturing solutions for higher reliability and durabiltiy of composites

Additive manufacturing solutions are enabling a new era of design optimization, complexity and functionality for composite structures. With the advent of 3D printing technologies, additive manufacturing solutions have rapidly advanced and reached a state of mainstream adoption, particularly for rapid prototyping. Such technologies are only beginning to penetrate and influence the advanced composites industry. The present research project aims at realizing a comprehensive analysis and a critical comparison of the existing additive manufacturing solutions, with special attention to their specific processes. Research will focus on the issues of reliability and durability of composite components realized by such techniques, exploiting computational mechanics tools to simulate each manufacturing process. Optimization strategies will be also explored in order to improve geometries, material combinations, and process parameters towards maximizing the mechanical performance of composites and their durability. Prospective applicants are expected to hold a degree in engineering or mathematics.


PhD candidates are however welcome to propose a research topic of their own that is aligned with the School’s main competences and interests.

The detailed job offer and related benefits are detailed in the enclosed leaflet.


We are very much looking forward to receiving applications for highly motivated candidates.

Marco Paggi

Full Professor of Structural Mechanics

MUSAM Research Unit Director

PDF icon Job offer description and benefits1.81 MB
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