PhD programmes - Science and Technology
Home > Proposed research topics > 2014 - 30th cycle
Home > Proposed research topics > 2014 - 30th cycle

2014 - 30th cycle

Materials Science and Engineering

- M. Benedetti, M. Pellizzari - Modelling and simulation of metallic materials and mechanical components.

Numerical modelling is becoming more and more important in any aspect involving the simulation and design of components and processes covered in industrial engineering. Therefore, the proposed research project will involve the development of efficient and reliable methods that can be used to understand the fundamental phenomena that govern microstructure and mechanical behaviour of metallic materials as well as to incorporate this knowledge into the design and production of various machine components. Particular emphasis will be placed on the validation of the proposed modelling methods on the basis of a sound experimental activity. Specific research topics include: (i) explicit dynamic finite element simulation of the surface treatments of shot peening, (ii) structural and fluid-dynamics finite element analysis of the lubricated contact conditions in worm gearing, (iii) modelling of heat treatment and other manufacturing process (forging, rolling, casting, welding) aimed at the calculation of residual stresses and microstructural prevision, (iv) microstructural modelling aimed at the evaluation of the micromechanical behaviour of multiphase materials. Students interested in this project should be highly motivated, have an aptitude for both programming and experimental work, and will be rewarded by the acquisition of technical skills that are highly appreciated in the industrial field.


- F. Deflorian, S. Rossi - Surface treatments and coatings for corrosion protection of casted light alloys.

Casted materials often need a surface treatment and coating in order to improve the corrosion resistance and surface mechanical properties. Chemical or electrochemical treatments such as hybrid coatings, electroplating and anodizing are often applied to light alloy casted products for both corrosion protection and improved surface hardness. The good result of the surface treatment is often dependant on the alloys composition, casted surface conditions and the segregation of alloying elements that lead to a non homogeneous surface reactivity. Some alloys are particularly difficult to be treated because of the alloying elements. Optimization of both casting procedure and surface treatment is a key point for a good result in term of final properties. The PhD activity has in program the collaboration with the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and Jönköping University.


- D. Maniglio, A. Motta - New fabrication strategies for hydrogel-based systems for drug delivery and regenerative medicine.

The aim of project is to study new methods for hydrogels fabrication for drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. The project will be focused on the more advanced techniques for gels preparation, optimizing them for the realization of new systems based on biodegradable natural-derived polymers. In particular one step methods, from biopolymers water solution to sterile matrices, based on gas forming (i.e. CO2) or electrophoretic deposition will be studied. Methods and resulting constructs will be evaluated in terms of shape forming capability, degradation times and dynamo-mechanical properties, drug loading mechanisms, release kinetics and bioactivity performances.  Specific applications will be defined and used as model systems.


- A. Molinari - Sintering of steel powders at high temperature: dimensional change, microstructure, mechanical properties.

The increase in sintering temperature increases shrinkage and improves the morphology of the residual pores, leading to an increase in the fraction of the load bearing section. Mechanical properties increase consequently, even if the modifications of the ferrous matrix may lead to either microstructural hardening or softening, depending on the composition of the powder. This may either enhance or reduce the positive effect of the fraction of the load bearing section on strength, ductility and toughness. Steel parts are conventionally sintered at 1150-1250°C in the industrial production. The project aims at investigating the effect of the sintering temperature in the 1250-1350°C range on dimensional change, on the characteristics of the residual porosity and on their effect on tensile, impact and fatigue resistance of low alloyed steels produced by Powder metallurgy. Dimensional changes will be studied by dilatometry, to determine the shrinkage kinetics at different temperatures. The characteristics of the residual porosity will be investigated by Image Analysis. The results of the mechanical tests will be correlated to the fraction of the load bearing section, to the morphological features of the residual porosity and to the characteristics of the metallic matrix with both an experimental and a theoretical approach.


- A. Molinari - Study of production of hardmetals by vacuum sintering.*

The project aims at investigating the effect of the vacuum sintering parameters and of the characteristics of the WC and Co powders on the densification kinetics of the material and the physical, mechanical and wear properties of the sintered parts. The optimum combination of hardness and fracture toughness will be sought in dependence on metallic binder content and the size of carbides particles.


- A. Quaranta, G. Della Mea - Luminescent solar concentrators for solar harvesting.

The confinement and wavelength conversion of solar light is of fundamental importance for the exploitation of the solar energy not only for high efficiency PV cells but also for energy storage systems. For this reason, there was a great development of solar harvesting systems based on Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSCs), based on luminescent waveguides which both concentrate the solar light onto small areas and shift the wavelengths of part of the solar spectrum to ranges more suitable for the collecting device. After the first studies on flat plates, nowadays new geometries are studied in order to increase the light confinement and the efficiency of the overall system. For instance, LSC fibers have been recently developed and studied. In this framework, thin film technologies are suitable for the improvement of the confinement efficiency, owing to a better control of the surface optical properties for lowering the reflection loss effects. The proposed research activity will involve mainly the deposition and characterization of thin films on LSC systems and the testing of the confinement properties with solar simulators. Moreover, new fiber arrangements, based on the synthesis of polysiloxane materials, will be studied for the production and development of flexible LSCs. The efficiencies of the different systems will be also studied by means of suitable ray tracing programs. This research activity will be performed in collaboration with the Imperial College of London (UK).


- G.D. Sorarù - Polymer-derived Si-based ceramic aerogels as high temperature materials.

Due to their exceptional chemical and thermal stability micro/mesoporous polymer-derived Si-based ceramics can find applications at ultra-high temperature in a variety of different fields such as catalyst support for chemical reactions, membranes/ultrafilters for chemical separations, high temperature thermal insulations etc. Moreover, these novel materials have shown many functional properties which expand even more the potential application fields. In this work we propose to study the processing of a new family of highly porous, micro/mesoporous materials from preceramic polymers: the Si-C-N-O aerogels. We will study the synthesis of preceramic aerogels with supercritical CO2, the role of synthesis parameters on the structure and properties of preceramic aerogels, their pyrolythic transformation into the final Si-C-N-O aerogels. The final materials will be characterized to exploit possible applications as high temperature insulation materials and high temperature gas sensors.


Mechatronic and Mechanical Systems


- E. Bertolazzi, F. Biral – Optimal control methods for mechatronics systems

This PhD will focus on the theoretical and numerical aspects arising in the solution of non‑linear optimal control problems for challenging engineering mechatronics and biomechanical applications. The arising class of optimal problems involves dynamic models described by Differential Algebraic Systems (DAEs) and/or with discontinuity and singular problems. Therefore numerical minimization algorithms suitable for non‑differentiable functions are of great interests. Theoretical aspects will focus on solution existence, unicity and algorithm convergence. Applicability to embedded systems will be also investigated.


- D. Bortoluzzi - Dynamics of mechanical systems for aerospace applications

In spacecraft applications, mechanical systems are subjected to strong design constraints due to both hard environmental conditions and demanding functional and performance requirements. Science spacecraft must be often controlled and stabilized by attitude and orbit control system, and in some applications (like LISA Pathfinder) a drag-free attitude control must be designed in order to realize a nearly-geodesic trajectory. Mechanisms for space applications are also critical, especially when strong constraints are set on tribological behavior of surfaces. A challenging case of study is also identified in the grabbing positioning and release mechanism for LISA Pathfinder mission, where adhesion between metallic surfaces may affect a mission critical phase.


- P. Bosetti - Artificial intelligence systems for mechanical machining processes

Industrial machining processes still heavily rely on expertise and training of human machine operators. Among other things, it is worth citing some process parameters and process state variables that have to be chosen and controlled by operators: cutting speed and feed-rate, instant absorbed power, vibration intensity and chatter, tool wear and tool condition in general, choice of tool geometry, effectiveness of lubrication. It is thus an interesting and challenging research field to research and develop mechatronics systems, measurement applications, and control/monitoring software for augmenting the automation level of machine tool controllers so that the choice, regulation, control, and monitoring of the above conditions can be demanded to the machine tool itself, with consequent advantages in terms of cost effectiveness, reliability, and efficiency of machining processes.


- M. Da Lio – Intelligent vehicle and artificial drivers

The automotive sector is facing a big change introducing new technologies to support the humans drivers to avoid accidents, reduce the driving workload and the vehicles’ consumption and emission. A key technology is an artificial driver that understands human intensions and supports him/her in the driving task or takes over when necessary. The focus of the project is developing such artificial drivers capable to plan maneuvers that reduce the energy consumption and emissions and cooperate with other road users in the mid range exchanging motion plans and intentions. Analysis of human robot interactions and emerging collaborative behavior will be carried out both at theoretical and experimental level.


- M. Da Lio, F. Biral – Human sensory motor modeling

Understanding and modeling of human motor strategies are important not only to design machine used by human and especially rehabilitation devices or exercise programmes but also for objective prediction of human motor neuron disease grade and progress. The focus of research is the understanding of inverse modeling that fits the experimental observation, i.e. identification of underlying objective functions of human motions in different situations or their deviation from normal behavior. The development of hybrid dynamical system to accurately predict pathological behaviors is also one of the main research topic.


- L. Zaccarian - Reset control systems

This PhD will focus on the developments of novel tools for the design and analysis of special class of hybrid dynamical systems (that is, systems comprising both continuous- and discrete-time dynamics) arising when allowing controller states re-initialization in linear and nonlinear control design. The arising class of control systems, that has been recently proven to overcome fundamental limitations of classical linear control, could provide a viable high-performance alternative to the well established PI control loops. The goal of this PhD study is twofold and comprises developing systematic tools for reset control design and tuning with formal Lyapunov-based stability and performance guarantees, in addition to investigating their applications in the industrial context via suitable interactions with the local industries.


Electronic Systems and Integrated Microelectronic Systems


- D. Brunelli - Energy harvesting for embedded systems.

Energy harvesting is the capability to convert and extract energy from the environment and power embedded electronic systems (e.g. wearable electronic, sensor networks, multimedia devices). The activity proposed aims at designing, developing and validating energy harvesting models for Embedded Systems and Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) to improve the energy efficiency of applications towards Energy Neutral Systems. The task primarily involves modelling of the energy harvesting sources and computation loads of the application, hardware and software co-design of the systems to optimise the performance of application with energy harvesting, power management and ambient energy storage solutions.


- D. Brunelli, D.Petri - Design and implementation of a distributed framework for state estimation in the power grid. *

The PhD activity will focus on Multi-level optimisation of the Integration of a Network of Data Centres into a Smart energy Grid.  An implementation of a set of optimisation algorithms into a Hardware/software framework driven from the networked data centres will be the goal of the PhD. The ideal candidate has theoretical and technical background in the following fields: embedded programming, distributed computing, Cyber Physical Systems, realtime scheduling.


- D. Macii - Indoor localization and positioning.

This research topic is focused on development and characterization of localization and position tracking techniques in indoor environments, based on multi-sensor data fusion. Distance estimation relies on time-of-flight and received strength measurements of radio signals as well as on data collected from inertial sensors (e.g. accelerometers, encoders and gyroscopes). The research activities include at first an experimental performance analysis of existing and innovative sensors. Afterwards, suitable algorithms should be developed and optimized in order to minimize the overall measurement uncertainty. Finally, the proposed techniques have to be tested and their performance evaluated on the field using an experimental tested.


- L. Pancheri - Optical sensors for time-resolved imaging applications.

The goal of this activity is the development of novel image sensors for time-resolved light detection. Time-resolved optical sensing finds both industrial and research applications, including Time-Of-Flight range measurement, time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, Positron Emission Tomography and Raman spectroscopy. This activity combines device and circuit level approaches to design application-specific sensors with improved characteristics with respect to current state-of-the-art solutions. Devices and circuits will be analyzed and designed using CAD simulation tools, fabricated in an industrial CMOS process and validated through an experimental characterization.


- D. Petri - Energy management under smart grid schemes.

This activity aims at developing a multi-level optimisation framework based on energy loads, renewable energy sources and smart grid configuration, to ease demand response and load management scenarios. An analytical model of the loads (e.g. residential, industry, data center) will be built for different energy profiles. These profiles will be specified for the various workload levels. Grid state estimation and time synchronization techniques can also be developed to support the proposed analysis. The proposed solution developed will be then designed, implemented in hardware and software and tested to operate with several varying factors such as workload migrations, renewable energy produced by PV systems, available grid power or energy storage capabilities.


- G.F. Dalla Betta, M. Gottardi (FBK) - Ultra-low power vision system for environmental monitoring. **

Development of a custom low-power vision sensor to be attached to animals. The sensor will look upward, taking pictures from time to time, extracting and clustering the zones having color and/or similar texture characteristics. These data will provide useful information concerning the environment crossed by the animals during the observation time. The visual features will be correlated with data acquired through remote sensing in order to improve the accuracy of the measure. In order to guarantee long system lifetime, the proposed system will rely on an ultra-low power vision sensor. It will embed real-time image processing delivering symbolic information rather than rough images, thus turning into a high data compression level, low local memory requirements and reduced data bandwidth. The proposed vision sensor will be the key component of the whole visual system. The device will be designed in CIS (CMOS Image Sensor) technology. The sensor will be interfaced to a WSN node.


- G.F. Dalla Betta, M. Perenzoni (FBK) - Terahertz image sensors in CMOS technologies. **

The research activity will be focused onto the design, simulations and characterization of CMOS integrated imagers for biomedical and security applications. The main research topic is on multispectral imaging covering the visible, IR and THz regions of the spectrum. The ideal candidate must have a Master degree in Electronics or Telecommunication, good knowledge of semiconductors device physics and excellent skills in analog and digital circuits design.


- G.F. Dalla Betta, L. Lorenzelli (FBK) - Development of microsystems for the agrofood sector. **

The PhD activity will focus on the design, fabrication and experimental testing of microsystems and sensors for agrofood applications. The position will be inserted in a research group currently involved in EC projects promoting the use of microsysems for the analysis of safety and quality of foods, and in particular in dairy industry. The ideal candidate has theoretical and technical background in the following fields: analytical chemistry, biotechnologies, biochemistry, material science and electronics. A preferential criterion is previous experience in microfluidics, microsystems and experimental testing of analytical systems.


* project financed by the Department of Industrial Engineering (DII)

** projects financed by "Bruno Kessler" Foundation (FBK)