Phase transformation in architected materials

Can one design the geometry of structures to achieve predictable, adaptable, and desirable mechanical performances? Can one optimise lattice structures to undergo phase transformation of their local architecture, leading to tuneable mechanical behaviour?  With these questions in mind, we will exploit the interplay between soft materials and their non-linear deformation and instabilities to design a new class of architected materials. 

Architected materials with enough compliance to undergo local elastic and/or inelastic phase transformation is a promising new class of soft materials. Their potential comes from the programmability of non-trivial loading paths given external stimuli and sets of constraints [1-3]. Moreover, periodic and hierarchical microstructures can be designed with built-in, tuneable instabilities that can be optimised into a new class of devices with responsive morphing over a wide range of length-scales.

You will investigate novel compliant lattices, both periodic and hierarchical systems, capable of deforming into multiple shapes for multiple functions.

You will develop numerical representations of architected materials, simulating networks comprising elastically-connected nodes under imposed stresses and strains.

You will provide a non-linear mechanical analysis of ordered and disordered cellular structures, guided in part by your simulation results.

You will aim to understand their stability and failure, the mechanisms that lead to geometric induced rigidity, and optimisation of a structure’s global shape through local manipulation of their components.

The outcomes of this work will guide new material development for engineering fields as diverse as smart materials and structures (e.g., MEMS) as well as robotics and sensing.

This analytical and computational project is supervised by Dr Marcelo A. Dias and Dr Chris Ness (School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh). It will involve regular interaction with experimentalists both locally and globally. Interested candidates may contact the supervisor for further information ( and and may wish to prepare a 1-page research proposal on a specific area relevant to this theme.

[1] Yang, Y., Dias, M.A. and Holmes, D.P., 2018. Multistable kirigami for tunable architected materials. Physical Review Materials2(11), p.110601.

[2] Florijn, B., Coulais, C. and van Hecke, M., 2014. Programmable mechanical metamaterials. Physical review letters113(17), p.175503.

[3] Liu, S., Azad, A.I. and Burgueño, R., 2019. Architected materials for tailorable shear behavior with energy dissipation. Extreme Mechanics Letters28, pp.1-7.

Further Information:

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:

Closing Date: 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Applications are particularly welcome from candidates expecting to receive a first class degree in any engineering discipline, physics, applied mathematics or a closely related subject.

Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Competition (EPSRC) funding may be available for an exceptional candidate but please note you must be a UK student or an EU student who has lived in the UK 3+ years. This will be allocated around spring 2022 – please enquire.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: