PhD position Ultrasonic Friction-Modulating Catheter

We invite applications for PhD candidates with a strong interest in performing cutting-edge research, to study the design and control of novel catheters with programmable friction.

The field of minimally-invasive cardiovascular intervention has proved its benefit over open-heart surgery, leading to shorter recovery times and lower infection rates. In cardiovascular interventions, the interventionist navigates specialized catheters through the arteries to the heart, where the interventions are performed. These devices are fitted with low friction coatings so that their introduction into the body does not damage the mucous membranes of the blood vessels. While low friction is beneficial to avoid damage to the membranes, it makes holding a specific location inside the heart difficult. This is particularly true when high forces need to be applied during cutting or puncturing tissues.

The novel approach put forward in this project aims at controlling frictional properties in real-time, using ultrasonic friction modulation, to anchor and release a compliant catheter inside the body. The body of the catheter will exhibit high-friction with the biological tissues by default to maintain a certain position, to operate with high forces without buckling, and can become near frictionless by engaging the ultrasonic actuation during insertion and removal of the catheter; preventing the “Chinese finger trap” effect.

In this project you will:

  • model the behavior of ultrasonic friction modulation with soft tissues and in the presence of fluids.
  • design a prototype catheter with the unique ability to modify its frictional resistance in real-time.
  • evaluate the concept ex-vivo

The PhD position is part of  the Bio Inspired Technology (BITE; group of the BioMechanical Engineering (BME) department, which has extensive experience in flexible steerable surgical instrument design, and the Delft Haptics Lab ( of the Cognitive Robotics department (CoR), which brings expertise in ultrasonic friction-modulation. The project will be carried out in collaboration with Amsterdam University Medical Center (AUMC) and Erasmus Medical Center (EUMC), as well as the Interfacial Fluid Phenomena Group in the Process & Energy (P&E) department.


Your profile:

  • You have or are about to obtain an MSc-degree in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, robotics, applied physics or a related design discipline.
  • You are self-motivated and reliable.
  • You are creative and have a strong interest in designing new devices.
  • You are a good collaborator with people from other disciplines such as hospitals and companies.
  • You have an excellent command of English (at least C1). Knowledge of, or willingness to, learn Dutch is an advantage.

Additional information

For information about this vacancy, feel free to contact Michaël Wiertlewski (  or Aimée Sakes (

To apply, please submit:

  • a motivation letter,
  • a detailed CV,
  • a record of Bachelor and Master courses (including grades)
  • a link to your Master’s thesis (at least as a draft), and
  • the names and contact addresses of two references.

Applications should be submitted in one single pdf file to Michaël Wiertlewski ( and Aimée Sakes ( referring to vacancy title in the subject of the email.