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PhD positions opening in contact mechanics at PoliBa

Antonio Papangelo's picture

Location: Polytechnic University of Bari, Department of Mechanics Mathematics and Management (DMMM), Via Orabona 4 - 70125 Bari – Italy

Job Type: Full Time

Deadline: A few PhD positions will open soon and every year starting June 2022, deadline to be announced. The application will include CV but also a well written potential project which has to be preliminary discussed with the supervisors.

Supervisory Team: Prof. Michele Ciavarella (e-mail:, Prof. Antonio Papangelo (e-mail:, please contact us for any questions well in advance of application, that is well in advance of August 2022 (as regarding this year deadline).

Scholarship: 16,243.00 €/year to be paid in a monthly sum. Furthermore, a stay abroad in top University is required and the scholarship amount is increased by 50 % for up to 1.5 years for this purpose. About 4,500 € are also available for other research activities (e.g. participation to conferences, summer schools, …)

Key-words: adhesion, contact mechanics, soft matter, grasping technologies;


Project description

We are looking for highly motivated PhD students coming from very good Universities with top marks who want to pursue an international and stimulating PhD Course in the area of Mechanics at Polytechnic University of Bari.

Adhesion between macroscopic objects is of fundamental importance in the development of cutting-edge technologies such as soft robots, human-robot interaction, soft manipulators. Recent experimental evidence has shown that micrometric vibrations with frequencies close to one kHz can regulate interfacial adhesion in soft viscoelastic materials. The project aims at deepening our understanding in soft contact mechanics, considering the effect of material properties and micro-vibrations on the detachment force of patterned interfaces.

Theoretical, numerical and experimental work will be promoted during the three years of the PhD Course with collaborations with eminent international Universities and Research Centres. Longstanding collaborations are in place with: Prof. Robert McMeeking from Santa Barbara University (USA), Prof. James Barber from Uni Michigan (USA), Prof. Norbert Hoffmann from the Hamburg University of Technology (Germany), Prof. D. Dini from Imperial College (UK), Prof. Huajian Gao from Singapore University (Singapore), Prof. Li Qunyang from Tsinghua University (China), Prof. David Hills from Oxford University, Prof. Andrei Constantinescu from Ecole Polytechnique (Paris), and possibly others. During the PhD Course the PhD students will be offered the opportunity to collaborate and join the latter international research groups for an abroad staying of about 1 year (max 1.5 year is paid, longer periods are also possible if the student and the supervisor considers this appropriate). The goal of the project is to design, simulate and test micro-structured interfaces actively excited by appropriately designed micro-vibrations to influence their interfacial properties, particularly adhesion.

The PhD student will work in a stimulating environment and will have the possibility to collaborate with the TriboDynamics Lab, recently founded at the Department of Mechanics Mathematics and Management which has received support from the European Research Council under the call ERC-2021-Starting Grant for 1.5 M€ (

We are looking for highly motivated people!  For further information, please send us ASAP an email attaching your CV!

Short Bio:

Prof. M. Ciavarella is well known in the area of contact mechanics, tribology, fatigue and fretting fatigue. He graduated at Politecnico di BARI in Mech Eng in 1994 cum Laude and first of his cohort of 200. PhD in Mech Eng at University of Oxford under Prof. DA Hills studying Contact mechanics of gas turbine engines attachment in collaboration with Rolls-Royce.  He has worked at University of Michigan, University of Southampton, UK, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Italian National Research Council), (the youngest in Italy nominated to this senior position at age 28), University of Hamburg TUHH as Humboldt fellow, Ecole Polytechnique Palaiseau (Fr). Presently, Full professor at Politecnico di BARI (It). Included in the list of the Top Italian Scientists in Engineering (rank 121st) in the world

Ranked first by impact in the Ioannides Plos ONE Stanford ranking of Plos Biology in Politecnico di BARI, 4th in Italy, and 350th in the subject “mechanics”.  For papers, see


Prof. A. Papangelo obtained his master in Mechanical Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Bari (PoliBa) in 2013 cum laude. In March 2017 he defended his Ph.D. thesis at PoliBa on the themes of tribology and nonlinear dynamics. During his post-doc activity, he has been visiting scientist at the Sandia National Labs (University of New Mexico), at the VUTC Lab (Imperial College London), and for about 2 years at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). He has been nominated Associate Professor by a direct call of the Ministry of University and Research after his research project “SURFACE” has been awarded 1,5 M€ by the European Research Council (ERC-2021-Starting Grant) in December 2021. He has authored more than 70 scientific articles in peer-reviewed international journals in the area of Mechanics, which, to date, received about 950 citations. After five years from his PhD defence Prof. Papangelo has attracted more than 2 M€ research funds.

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