ERC Consolidator Grant for ultra-sensitive 2D material membranes in frequency-based metrology and single bacteria sensing

Last year, scientists at TU Delft achieved a remarkable feat by using graphene to capture the sound of an individual bacterium. In order to improve these kind of 2D ultra-sensitive sensors, the nanomechanics of this material have to be studied in more detail. Farbod Alijani, associate professor at the faculty of Mechanical Engineering, received an ERC Consolidator Grant for this project. His ultimate goal is to improve the mechanical performance of 2D material sensors and use them for rapid screening tests in drug development and personalized medicine.

“Graphene is a one atom thick material that is very strong but at the same time flexible and incredibly lightweight,” explains Farbod Alijani, who works at the department of Precision and Microsystems Engineering.It is considered a promising material with countless applications. “But there’s a catch,” says Alijani, “graphene is very susceptible to noise and nonlinearities, which negate its performance. As a result, often large variations are seen in its dynamical properties when driven to motion.”

Biological noise

Alijani’s research project NCANTO will focus on the fundamental understanding of the combination of noise and nonlinearities in 2D material membranes like graphene. He wants to engineer nonlinearities in them to suppress noisefor cutting-edge nanomechanical performance, while amplifying rhythms from erratic biological noise,when single microorganisms are interacting with 2D membranes.

With biological noise Alijani refers to nanoscale fluctuations of microorganisms. “We already showed that graphene can capture the sound of a single bacterium, mainly because of its flagella, a tail on the cell surface that propel bacteria.” This generated extremely small and random vibrations in the graphene sensor. In order to improve single cell sensing, we now aim to create order in the randomness of these vibrations. “We want to do this by nanoengineering and making use of nonlinear dynamic techniques to influence the behaviour of bacteria, such that they align their movement, thus creating a biological rhythm instead of noise.” “In the future, I hope this will lead to a better understanding of the nanoscale signals emitted by bacteria. This will help to develop better drug screening tools, especially for antibiotics, contributing to tackling the worldwide antimicrobial resistance challenge.”

European Research Council

The ERC is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. The ERC Consolidator Grants are designed to support mid-career researchers and will help them conduct cutting-edge research on topics of their choice. The funding is for a period of five years.

Björn Nijhuis
Winner of the Biezeno Engineering Mechanics Award 2023

photo: Semih Perdahcioglu

We cordially congratulate Dr. Björn Nijhuis with the Biezeno Engineering Mechanics Award for his thesis 

“Efficient Thermomechanical Modelling of Large-Scale Metal Additive Manufacturing”

Since 2013 the EM symposium is the podium of the ceremony to celebrate the Biezeno award for the annual best PhD thesis in the field of engineering mechanics in The Netherlands, which is awarded by the Dutch association for engineers and engineering students (KIVI). The award is named after Professor Cornelis Benjamin Biezeno, who is one of the founding fathers of Engineering Mechanics in the Netherlands.

Emanuela Bosco rewarded with ERC Starting grant

Emanuela Bosco. Photo: Angeline Swinkels

Emanuela Bosco (Associate Professor in Applied Mechanics at the Department of the Built Environment, TU/e) has been awarded an ERC Starting grant from the European Research Council (ERC) worth 1.5 million euros with the project VANGOGH. The project VANGOGH aims to integrate advanced computational and experimental mechanics strategies into the field of cultural heritage conservation.

Canvas paintings are an invaluable cultural legacy, holding artistic and historical value. At the same time, however, from an engineering perspective, canvas paintings are sophisticated multiphase hierarchical systems subjected to complex loading conditions triggered by the interaction between multiple physical fields. This complicated scenario may ultimately result in different degradation mechanisms, including wrinkling of the painting surface, cracking, delamination, and flaking of the paint, which affect the appearance, integrity, and longevity of the artworks. Predicting the degradation of canvas paintings is thus not only one of the grand challenges in the field of heritage conservation but also a major and exciting scientific problem.  

The project VANGOGH aims to develop a multiscale modelling framework that can predict the instability, fracture, and degradation of canvas paintings. The modelling strategy will describe the complex time-dependent constitutive behaviours of paint and canvas materials and their influence on the degradation of canvas paintings while considering the coupling of moisture diffusion, thermal conduction, mechanical deformation, and fracture and instability mechanisms. The modelling framework will be fully integrated with novel multiscale experiments combining quantitative mechanical testing and in-situ microscopic observations to characterize the response of original paint and canvas samples from masterpieces. This synergetic computational-experimental strategy will allow to quantitatively predict the degradation and the lifetime of historical canvas paintings. Beyond the theoretical challenges, the project VANGOGH will generate crucial knowledge for conservators to support informed conservation decisions and preventive conservation policies for museum collections.

V. van Gogh, Olive Trees (1889). Detail of the surface showing cracking mechanisms in the paint layer. Images elaborated from  https://nelson-atkins.org/fpc/post-impressionism/738/

Micro-mechanical test of an individual fibre from the canvas of the Night Watch, Rembrandt. Picture by Dr. S. Maraghechi. Image of the painting from https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/SK-C-5

In Memoriam

Herman Wijshoff

It is with great sadness that we learned that our advisory-board member Prof.dr.ir. Herman Wijshoff passed away on 10 May 2023. Herman joined the advisory board of Engineering Mechanics in 2012 as a representative of Océ (Canon Production Printing since 2020), and he actively participated in many of the EM symposia. In addition to his position at Canon, Herman held the chair “Fluid Dynamics of Inkjet Printing” at Eindhoven University of Technology. With his infectious passion for the application of fundamental research in fluid and solid mechanics in advanced inkjet-printing processes, Herman was a driving force behind the collaboration between academic researchers and R&D researchers at Canon Production Printing. Herman played an important role in the development of many public-private research programs, such as MicroNed, NanoNextNL, and FIP. We will miss his insightful advice, his no-nonsense attitude, and his positive personality. Our thoughts go out to Herman’s wife Jacqueline, his daughters Veerle and Jenske, and their loved ones.

The Graduate School on Engineering Mechanics embraces all internationally important research groups that are active in the field at Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology , University of Twente and at the University of Groningen

The prime objective of the Graduate School is:

“To establish a national high-level scientific education
of PhD candidates and Post-Docs.”

The constituting research groups are:

  • Applied Mechanics ( Prof. dr. ir. A.H. van den Boogaard, Prof. dr. ir. T. Tinga, Prof.dr.ing. B. Rosic), Twente University, Faculty of Engineering Technology
  • Production Technology (Prof. dr. ir. R. Akkerman), Twente University, Faculty of Engineering Technology
  • Multiscale Mechanics (Prof. dr. rer-nat. S. Luding), Twente University, Faculty of Engineering Technology
  • Soil MicroMechanics (Dr. ir. V. Magnanimo), Twente University, Faculty of Engineering Technology
  • Surface Technology and Tribology (Prof.dr.ir. M.B de Rooij), Twente University of Technology, Faculty of Engineering Technology

  • Micromechanics (Prof.dr.ir. E. (Erik) Van der Giessen & Prof.dr.ir. P.R. (Patrick) Onck), University of Groningen, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Computational Mechanical and Materials Engineering (Prof.dr. A.I. (Antonis) Vakis), University of Groningen, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Eindhoven University of Technology acts as the commissioner of the EM Graduate School, locating the EM Secretariat.