PhD programmes - Science and Technology
Home > Proposed research topics > 2013 – 29th cycle > Materials Science and Engineering
Home > Proposed research topics > 2013 – 29th cycle > Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering

Structural health monitoring for safe operation of mechanical systems

Teacher: Matteo Benedetti


Nowadays, complex mechanical systems are referred to as smart or intelligent structures capable of sending information and providing warnings before any major failure. To this regard, the feasibility of monitoring the structural health of wind towers using strain sensors placed in the vicinity of critical sites of the structure was preliminarily assessed at the University of Trento.

The present project is aimed at validating the proposed approach on the basis of experimental and numerical investigations carried out on mock-ups of welded structures subjected to typical wind loading spectra.

A degree in engineering with a solid mechanical and materials background is desirable.

Liquid ionics as deposition environment for innovative metallic protective coatings

Teacher: Flavio Deflorian


The use of liquid ionics allows the deposition of innovative metallic layers for protection of industrial metallic materials. The research project will involve the optimisation of the deposition conditions of different metallic salts in ionic liquids media and their characterisation of the corrosion protective properties.

Particular effort will be dedicated to the study of the basic deposition mechanism and the influence of the deposition parameters.

Development of multilayer for protection from intense electric fields (co-financed project)

Teacher: Gianantonio Della Mea


The project concerns the study of new materials in order to minimize the surface damage in special devices induced by the presence of pulsed electric fields and high-voltage electric discharge. The project is focused in the development of physical methods for deposition of thin film to realize multilayers with nanometer variable thicknesses.

The purpose is to control the electrical and mechanical properties of the surface in special devices exposed to high electric fields. The multilayers will be realized with PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) Magnetron Sputtering technique. In this way it is possible to deposit on metal devices different materials with high thermal resistance and suitable electrical conductivity.

Particular attention will be given to the preparation and calibration of the deposition system to obtain a high repeatability of the physical characteristics of the deposited films.The morphological and structural characterization will be studied by using AFM (atomic force microscopy), electron microscopy and diffraction. The compositional and chemical analysis will be performed with the nuclear technique RBS (Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry) and the EDS Spectroscopy. The mechanical characterization will be performed using the micro-scratch and nano-indentation tests.

Synthesis of inorganic materials for memristor devices (co-financed project)

Teacher: Sandra Dirè


The memristor, the missing electronic element predicted in 1971, has attracted a great deal of attention since 2008, when an HP group claimed it. In this project inorganic oxides (e.g. Ti, V, Si..) will be prepared by sol-gel synthesis with the addition of suitable dopants.

The memristive response will be measured and related to synthesis and processing conditions. The relations between structure and properties will be deeply investigated in order to understand the basic mechanisms leading to changes in electrical conductivity.

This activity will be performed in the frame of the “MaDEleNA” project financed by Provincia Autonoma di Trento, in collaboration with several groups.

Microshot peening to improve the fatigue behaviour of mechanical components

Teacher: Vigilio Fontanari


Micro-shot peening is an emerging surface treatment able to improve the fatigue behaviour of mechanical components, because it is able to produce high compressive residual stresses localized on the outer surface layers without excessively altering the surface morphology. Therefore it is also suitable to mitigate surface fatigue damages. However, the mechanism of residual stresses creation and their mutual interaction with the external loading is still not fully understood, especially in the very-high cycle fatigue regime and for mechanical components with complex shape under multiaxial loading conditions.

The present project is aimed at investigating both numerically and experimentally these issues. The activity will be performed in collaboration with leading international research institutes.

A degree in engineering with a solid mechanical and materials background is desirable.

Materials and methods to generate tissue assemblies by Cell Printing

Teacher: Claudio Migliaresi


The aim of project is to establish an enabling platform to fabricate via Cell Printing hierarchically structured and functional cell assemblies mimicking composition, structure and physiological behavior of animal tissues and namely human tissues.

These assemblies could be used as part of tissues for tissue engineered replacements that could be implanted in humans starting for the patient’s differentiated or stem cells.

Moreover, they could constitute 3D model cell assemblies for the evaluation of drugs, contaminants, additives to food, pesticides, cosmetics etc., and also used as biological models to study the mechanism of in vitro induced diseases.

Study of production of hardmetals by vacuum sintering (co-financed project)

Teacher: Alberto Molinari


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.

Graphene-based multiscale composites for functional and structural applications

Teacher: Alessandro Pegoretti


The aim of the project is to develop new structural composites with functional properties such as electrical conductivity, damage monitoring, sensitivity to external stimuli (pressure, heat, etc…).

The project will cover the preparation of graphene oxide (GO) from graphite and its thermal and chemical reduction into rGO. The preparation of nanocomposites will be exploited by dispersing both GO and rGO into polymer matrices suitable for the preparation of glass- or carbon-reinforced structural composites.

Moreover, the research will be focused on the effects of such nanofillers on the fiber-matrix adhesion.

Production and properties of particle reinforced metal matrix composites (MMC)

Teacher: Massimo Pellizzari


Metal matrix composites are materials showing excellent mechanical strength and tribological properties. The suited combination of a tough metallic matrix reinforced with hard ceramic particles provides a unique opportunity to fabricate materials with properties that can be modulated for the specific application. Since their introduction the properties of MMC’s have been considered from many points of view. However, relatively poor attention has been paid to their behavior at elevated temperature or in aggressive environments.

Aim of present research program is the evaluation of the wear mechanisms and damage phenomena of MMC’s under harsh experimental conditions approaching those typically encountered by industrial components during service.

Production and testing of new systems for Luminescent Solar Concentrators

Teacher: Alberto Quaranta


Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSC) exploit luminescent materials for the wavelength conversion and the conduction of part of the solar spectrum to small area efficient photovoltaic cells. Solar light is collected by slabs doped with luminescent molecules or quantum dots which shift the UV-Blue wavelength of the solar spectrum into a range suitable for GaAs or InP solar cells. The cells, at the edges of luminescent slabs, collect the light confined by means of total reflection process.

In this field new geometries can be designed for a more efficient light collection, and new doping techniques can be exploited, by means of rare earth metallorganic compounds or carbon quantum dots.

This activity is developed in collaboration with the CNR-IMEM Institute of Parma (Italy) and with the Imperial College London.

Innovative organic coatings for corrosion protection

Teacher: Stefano Rossi


Today, coatings with high protection performance together with a low environmental impact are requested. Considering environment aspects the use of Cr6+ as inhibitor could be avoided.

Then, the research is focused to individuate possible ways to increase the protection corrosion performance in addition to use a coating deposition methods with low environmental impact, as for example high solid paints or powder coatings. The use of nanoparticle with inhibitors inside the primer is one of most promising possibility.

The research project will start with the selection of most effective corrosion inhibitors and then to individuate a method to produce a fine distribution of inhibitor inside the coating to guarantee high corrosion protection.

Innovative ion-exchange processes for glass strengthening (co-financed project)

Teacher: Vincenzo M. Sglavo


The effect of small composition variations of the salt bath and of the glass composition is analyzed as source of fundamental changes in the ion-exchange process and of the glass strengthening.

The effect of glass structure and its variation after the ion-exchange are analyzed to optimize the process with the aim to obtain glasses with lower surface damage sensitivity and higher strength for several applications ranging from touch screens to pharmaceutical packaging components.

Production of planar anode- and metal-supported solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) operating at intermediate temperature and that can be fed with biofuel or liquid fuels (co-financed project)

Teacher: Vincenzo M. Sglavo


IT-SOFC can operate with a variety of fuels but issues relating to fuelling are highly dependent on the operation temperature and electrode materials. Lowering the temperature to IT regime has an impact on the efficiency of internal reforming, the propensity of carbon deposition/poisoning to occur and the extent to which impurities such as sulphur interact with the anode.

The challenge of choosing appropriate materials for planar IT-SOFC fed with biofuels or liquid fuels regards the electrolyte, the conducting electrodes, the interconnects, the seals and the other components that support the operation of the fuel cell stack.

The specific goal of the present research project is the production of planar anode- and metal-supported solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) operating at intermediate temperature and that can be fed with biofuel or liquid fuels.

Flash sintering of ceramics showing viscous flow mechanisms

Teacher: Vincenzo M. Sglavo


Flash sintering is a newly discovered electric field assisted densification technique that has been shown dramatically to lower sintering temperatures and increase sintering rates in crystalline ceramic materials; similar electrical conditions that cause flash sintering have also been shown to drastically change the softening properties in glasses (Bull. Am. Ceram. Soc., April 2013).

The combination effects of flash sintering and similar properties observed in glasses will be investigated in this work for the production of ceramics containing various amount of glassy phase.

Clinical grade acellular tissues through supercritical regeneration

Teacher: Sara Spilimbergo


Recently, in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, the use of donor derived homologous acellular matrices is becoming extremely significant as tissue substitute for organ/tissue reconstruction.

Commonly, solvent extraction processes are used to produce decellularization of tissue, however, there are numbers of drawbacks and limitations of conventional decellularization methods that need to be over come.

In this context, the present project aims to develop a new decellularization technology yielded a clinical grade decellularized tissues, dried and decontaminated, preserving the extracellular matrix 3D micro and macro hierarchy/architecture of the native tissue: conventional decellularization technology will be integrated with supercritical extraction/drying process, since, unquestionably, supercritical fluid presents clear advantages compared to traditional extraction techniques.



Doctoral School in Materials, Mechatronics and Systems Engineering

via Sommarive, 9 - 38123 Trento (Italy)
ph. +39 0461 282401