Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research. Holst Centre

ESR 12 – Electrically driven sensor skins for LCE-based soft robotics


TNO is an independent research organization that functions as a bridge between the worlds of academia and industry, and the public sector. TNO has around 3,500 employees working within nine domains for a wide range of clients, such as government agencies, the SME sector, civil society organizations, larger companies and service providers. We aim to translate research findings into straightforward applications and innovations to solve the challenges the world will encounter the day after tomorrow. We take the time to think calmly and thoroughly about issues and, once a project has been completed, we continue our search for tools, models and recommendations that will benefit our clients and society as a whole in the future.
At Holst Centre we develop, innovate and connect. We are an independent research and innovation centre, jointly operated by imec and TNO. We develop technologies that respond to the global societal challenges of tomorrow and contributes to a healthier and more sustainable world.
The TNO branch of the Holst Centre develops technologies for flexible electronics. Holst Centre is positioned between fundamental academic research and commercial product development. Typically, results obtained within Holst Centre aim for products that will appear on the market within three to ten years.


The High Tech Campus Eindhoven is a high tech center and R&D ecosystem on the Southern edge of the Dutch city of Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Currently hosting more than 140 companies and institutions, comprising over 10,000 product developers, researchers and entrepreneurs and an estimated 85 nationalities.



Charlotte Kjellander (TNO Holst) 



Danqing Liu (Technical University of Eindhoven) and Peter Zalar (TNO Holst)


Contact email address of the supervisor:

Research project

Robots that mimic the soft, pliable, robust, and organic qualities of the natural world are preferred over rigid, cold, and inorganic conventional robots. Soft robotics immediately benefits industries such as agriculture, where they are already deployed in the collection of fruits and vegetables. However, to advance the emerging field of “soft robots”, these machines must be equipped with actuators and sensors to allow them to interact with their environment and render them more perceptive. Such solutions can also form the basis of smart electronic skins, which can augment the sensory abilities of humans.

However, the construction of a total soft sensor and actuator system requires the optimization and elaboration of fabrication methodologies. It also requires the fundamental characterization of new materials as a function of chemical structure and processing technique.

The selected ESR will be employed at TNO as a PhD researcher and enrolled as a PhD student at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry (CE&C), Eindhoven University of Technology. The PhD student will be supervised by research staff at TNO and academic staff at TU Eindhoven. The main activities for this ERP will take place at TNO the Holst Centre (the Netherlands) performing secondments at Eindhoven University of Technology (NL), at Institute of Nanoscience and Materials of Aragon (CSIC, Spain) and at the company Vention (the Netherlands).


PhD programme – University: PhD programme in Chemical Engineering, TU/e


Candidate’s profile: 

Required MSc degree in Physics, Chemistry, Materials, Biomedical Science or Engineering

English level: fluent in writing and speaking

You are an ambitious MSc professional possessing critical scientific thinking capabilities, wanting to dive deep into materials properties and the processing of these.

Preferably you have experience with polymer coating technologies and flexible electronics.

You are enthusiastic about research, pro-active, and independent. You are a good team player, embracing multi-disciplinary backgrounds in a high-tech research environment.

You are curious to explore and scientifically understand the unknown.


Specific hiring requirements of the host institution: 

TNO will be the official employer for this PhD position, therefore the publication of the vacancy text on the TNO website will be leading. Please refer to:


Specific requirements for the enrolment in the PhD Programme: Doctorate regulations, TU/e