Design and development of novel load-bearing metamaterial structures/mechanisms for knee protection


Mechanical metamaterials are engineered structures with unusual mechanical properties arising from their artificial structural geometry, rather than from their material composition. For example, some mechanical metamaterials are known to exhibit negative Poisson's ratio, leading to some desirable mechanical properties such as high energy absorption and fracture resistance.

Knee joints are susceptible to damage, for example in the common condition of osteoarthritis, and this situation is aggravated with ageing. The project aims to develop a new mechanical metamaterial/metastructure-based device to be used as a mechanical load-reducer for knee protection considering the abovementioned issues, and demonstrate their performance using computational tools and experimental tests. This project has the following overall aims:

· To develop novel geometrical and topological designs for mechanical metamaterials and metastructures.

· To characterise the mechanical properties of the designed metamaterials/metastructures numerically (using FEA) and validate them experimentally through additive manufacturing and mechanical testing.

· To develop proof-of-concept prototypes.

· To carry out gait lab work with human volunteers walking normally and with a metamaterials-based knee support prototype.

· To explore other real-world applications for the developed technologies.

The PhD student will work within a vibrant and rapidly growing community of researchers at the Creative Design Engineering Lab (Cdel), based in the Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering of the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with the Department of Musculoskeletal and Ageing Science of the University of Liverpool.

We are seeking candidates with a minimum of 2:1 (or equivalent) first degree in Mechanical, Materials, Aerospace, Structural, or Design Engineering, or a related subject. Strong analytical and computational skills are essential. Previous experience or knowledge in one or more of the following areas is highly desirable:

1)                Finite Element Analysis (FEA);

2)                CAD and Parametric Modelling;

3)                Experimental Structural Characterisation;

4)                Geometrical/Topological Optimisation;

Furthermore, strong communication, interdisciplinary approach, and team working skills are required.

Diversity and Equality: The University of Liverpool is committed to diversity and equality of opportunity. All employees and applicants for jobs will be considered on their abilities and will not be discriminated against on the grounds of age, caring responsibilities, colour, disability, employment status, gender, gender identity, marital status, nationality, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or any other irrelevant distinction. Training is available to support career progression within the University. 

Due to a recent change in UKRI policy, this is now available for Home, EU or international students to apply. However, please be aware there is a limit on the number of international students we can appoint to these studentships per year.

Enquiries to: Dr Pooya Sareh ()

To apply:  please send your CV and a covering letter to  please put Technologies for Healthy Ageing in the subject line

Expected interviews in April 2021


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

This studentship is funded by the EPSRC DTP scheme and is offered for 3.5years in total. It provides full tuition fees and a stipend of approx. £15,609 tax free per year for living costs. The stipend costs quoted are for students starting from 1st October 2021 and will rise slightly each year with inflation.
The funding for this studentship also comes with a budget for research and training expenses of £1000 per year, and for those that are eligible, a disabled students allowance to cover the costs of any additional support that is required.