University of Zaragoza

ESR 2 – Liquid crystal chemoresponsive actuator


The University of Zaragoza (UZ) was founded in 1542. It is the major research and higher education institution in Aragón (Top 10 universities in Spain – QS World University Rankings). As of 2020, the academic and research staff numbers around 4300. The 2020 enrolment (graduate and postgraduate studies) of UZ stood at ca. 34000, including about 2200 PhD students. Research activities within UZ research centres and UZ-CSIC joint research units include both discovery-oriented research, and beyond the proof-of-concept phase projects in a wide range of areas including chemistry, physics, materials technology and social sciences.

The Instituto de Nanociencia y Materiales de Aragón, INMA, is a joint research unit of UZ and CSIC, and a world-leading research centre in Materials Science and Nanoscience. Research within the Liquid Crystals and Polymers group at INMA exploits liquid crystals (LCs) and stimuli-responsive compounds to bring improved functionality to polymer materials, whether the functionality is structural, mechanical or dynamic. Our expertise spans from organic and polymer synthesis to materials design and characterization. The group has extensive experience in hosting international research fellows and has led one large Innovative Training Network (Dendreamers) and contributed to another one (Sassypol). More info,


Zaragoza is the capital of the official region of Aragón and one of the cleanest and safest big cities in Spain. It is located in the north-east of Spain, on the banks of the Ebro river. The high-speed train AVE provides fast connections to Barcelona and Madrid (ca. 90 min). Zaragoza is a lively city with a diverse cultural heritage and lots of lovely parks and gardens.

Research project

4D printing combines 3D printing and stimuli-responsive polymers and offers an unprecedented opportunity for the preparation of soft actuators, which can transform soft robotics. Specifically, 4D printing of liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) enables the preparation of structures with an exquisite control over the morphology and microstructure of materials and, thus, a precise programming of the mechanical response to external stimulation. The ESR individual project will focus on the synthesis of a range of new liquid crystal inks and polymers as well as their processing. The goal is to create the next-generation of multiresponsive LC actuators and the fabrication of smart structures and devices. The application of such materials and devices in biomedical applications will also be evaluated.

The prospective research fellow will be recruited and hired by UZ, and will develop her/his main research activities at the laboratories of the Liquid Crystals and Polymers group (INMA, Zaragoza). A series of programmed research stays (secondments) of varying length at CSIC (Spain), Tampere University (Finland) and Aqdot (Cambridge, UK) will be excellent opportunities for the prospective research fellow to immerse in a different academic and professional environment to that of the host institution.


PhD programme – University: Doctoral Training Programme in Organic Chemistry – University of Zaragoza


Required MSc degree in Chemistry, Materials Science or Engineering

In case English is not the candidate´s mother tongue, the minimum language requirements are the following: B2 oral and written level (valid certificate according to the Common European Framework of References)

Desired skills: We are looking for highly motivated researchers with an excellent academic background in Chemistry, Materials Science or Engineering. Applicants must at the time of recruitment:

i) Have a BSc and a MSc or equivalent in Chemistry, Material Science or Engineering, or a related discipline

ii) Be in the first four years (FTE) of their research careers

iii) Have not been awarded a doctoral degree

iv) Have not resided in Spain for more than 12 months in the last 3 years


Specific requirements for the enrolment in the PhD Programme: