Post doc offer (IRDL / ESTEC-ESA / PIMM)

Biologically inspired autonomous solar tracker made with 4D printed shape-changing materials for lunar environment

Context : ESA (European Space Agency) is looking for innovative ideas on enabling technologies for in-situ
construction, manufacturing and maintenance of infrastructure, to support long term human exploration of a
planetary body. Efforts towards human exploration beyond Earth are seeing a remarkable resurgence, with an
increasing number of robotic missions to the surfaces of the Moon and Mars and plans to send humans to these
destinations in the near future. Such objectives can only be realized with the appropriate infrastructure to support
human presence in a sustainable manner. This includes infrastructure to shield the crew and equipment from
environmental conditions or generate energy. Solar tracker systems ( belong to solution that improve efficiency of
solar panels. However they are mainly designed with electro-mechanical actuators that are prone to failure and
In the context of AAP “Out of Earth Manufacturing and building” from ESA, we have proposed to design and
manufacture novel 4D printed architectured composite materials that are able to actuate autonomously in lunar
environment. Their microstructure and working principle will be inspired from sunflower Helianthus annuus.
We propose a Post-doc position driven by IRDL UMR CNRS (Univ UBS-Lorient), PIMM (ENSAM-Paris) and
ESTEC-ESA (Noordwijk, the Netherland). The work will be mainly achieved in Lorient and Paris. Several
investigations may be done ESA-ESTEC as well as in Bristol Composite Institute (Bristol).

The research project includes :

  • A design step with biomimicry and computer aided design
  • Material selection according to space specifications
  • A manufacturing step using 4D printing of composites
  • Testing of the materials under various space environment.

Skills and knowledges : We are looking for a young doctor with high skills in the field of mechanical engineering
(simulation and modelisation) and material sciences (polymers and composites). The candidate must be curious,
open to the various disciplinary aspects of the project. Additive manufacturing skills are also mandatory.
The contract should extend over a period of 18 months with a beginning date as soon as possible.

Required documents :

  • CV + Motivation letter
  • Certificate of the PhD
  • Copy of published articles
    -Certificate of M2 or Engineering school mentioning the average writing, the rank, the size of the promotion,
  • Transcripts
  • 3 references for recommendations (mandatory)

Contacts :