ITN Marie Curie PhD scholarship in Digital Production of Hearing Aids’ Earmoulds/Domes

Monday 09 Nov 20

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The DTU section of Manufacturing Engineering would like to invite highly motivated and talented applicants for a 3-year PhD position dealing with the “Digital production of a Hearing Aids’ Earmoulds/Domes”. The Section for Manufacturing Engineering performs theoretical, numerical, and experimental research in the field of manufacturing engineering. It covers a wide range of manufacturing processes and modelling approaches, metrology at all scales, micro/nano manufacturing, and additive manufacturing. The PhD project is a part of H2020-MSCA-ITN-2020 (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks) named SIMPPER funded by European Commission. The SIMPPER network spans 5 EU countries and is a consortium of 5 research-intensive universities, 10 leading manufacturers of important classes of medical products, and Europe’s premier orthopaedics hospital. The ITN SIMPPER focuses on Surface Integrity for Micro/Nano Processing of Polymers with the applications in advanced Medical Devices.

The goal of this PhD project is to develop a novel holistic approach for the design, production and characterization of high performance Earmoulds/Domes for Hearing Aid applications. Earmould/domes are used in Hearing Aids to efficiently funnel the sounds in the ear canal of the individual ear. Earmolds are custom made for the shape of the individual ears where Domes are mass produced components that come in standard sizes and shapes. Earmoulds are used for the severe hearing losses and Domes are good for people with low degree of hearing loss. With the increased market demand of RIC/RITE Hearing Aid models, the use and production of Domes have been drastically increased. However, the Domes provides the compromise between the costs (low) the performance (low). Whereas Earmoulds provides high acoustic performance but they are expensive and suffer aesthetic problem due to the large size. One big problem associated with the state-of-the-art Earmoulds/Domes is the contamination due to the presence of earwax, oil, dirt, etc. and also due to the wear and tear. Therefore, they need time-to-time replacement. Another problems associated with them is retention force and comfort when they are sitting in the ear canals. The Hearing Aid manufacturers need a holistic manufacturing approach that can solve the mentioned problems associated with Earmould/Domes and comply with ongoing digitization of the manufacturing approaches.

The ambition of this project is to develop a digitally driven process for the design and production of Earmoulds/Domes. A digital production and process control method will be established in this project for better acoustic performance, comfort and tactile perception, with sufficient retention force, better aesthetic appearance integrated with anti-contamination and anti-bacterial properties. The surface topography of Earmoulds/Domes can play a vital role to prevent contaminations and to provide sufficient retain force and comfort. With the digitally driven manufacturing approach and with the integration of smart surfaces a single design approach (E-domes) will be established that will provide the benefits of both the Earmoulds and Domes eliminating their shortcomings. However, before this can be realized some fundamental problems with production of functional surface by AM process and materials should be solved and this will form the scientific basis of this PhD project. This project will run in close collaboration among Technical university of Denmark, GN Hearing A/S, Denmark and University of Twente, The Netherlands.

Responsibilities and tasks
In this multidisciplinary research project, you will learn and apply new theoretical and experimental methods for the successful design and production of E-domes and increase the fundamental understanding of the vibroacoustic performance of domes in connections with the choice of materials, manufacturing parameters, surface topographies, etc. Your research task will include:

  • Develop fundamentally new design of Earmould/Domes that avoid the shortcomings of current designs and combines the advantages of Earmoulds and Domes into a single component. Design the hierarchical surface structures to be integrated with the design of Earmould/Domes that can provide super-hydrophobicity from soft polymeric materials.
  • Develop soft polymer based additive manufacturing process to manufacture Earmould/Domes with functional surfaces. Optimised digital production process of E-domes with integrated functional surfaces. Process will be optimized in terms of materials, machine settings, post-processing, etc. for future Earmould/Domes applications and establish industrial production method of the E-domes.
  • Systematically evaluate the performance of the new E-domes, including functional and user perception, develop new knowledge about acoustic-mechanical interactions of soft polymeric materials with earwax, moisture and sweat.

Furthermore, you will:

  • actively participate in the network-wide events of the ITN SIMPPER, contribute to different tasks and work-packages of the project, prepare the deliverables, and actively collaborate with the national and international partners of the project
  • engage in DTU’s teaching activities and supervise Bachelor and Master Project students
  • be responsible for the systematic planning and following up on your research project, compiling and storing your scientific data, and to ensure the scientific integrity of your research
  • participate in international conferences, compose scientific manuscripts for publications, and take part in outreach activities.

Qualifications
Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree in engineering, physics, material science, or related fields. Documented experience with materials and process technologies, additive manufacturing, vibroacoustic analysis, finite element methods, etc. will help in the positive evaluation. Preference will also be given to candidates who can document their ability for scientific publications.


We also expect that you:

  • have the ability to work focused and to achieve ambitious goals
  • are willing to develop any required skills and knowledge
  • are a good team player and proactive
  • have excellent communication skills in English - both written and spoken

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

Assessment
The assessment of the applicants will be made by an international evaluation committee consists of Associate Professor Aminul Islam from DTU (Chair), Senior Researcher Yang Zhang from DTU, Dr. Torbjörn Lindberg from GN Hearing, and Dr. Elahe Hadavi from University of Twente. 

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about
career paths at DTU here


Further information
Further information may be obtained from Associate Professor Aminul Islam (mais@mek.dtu.dk), tel.: +4545254896.

You can read more about DTU Mechanical Engineering at
www.mek.dtu.dk and about DTU at www.dtu.dk


Application
Please submit your online application no later than 14 December 2020 (local time). Apply online at www.career.dtu.dk. Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter).
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma.
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here).
  • Optional documents - English proficiency certificate (for instance TOEFL or IELTS), list of publications and any other documents that demonstrates your experience in the related area of the proposed PhD project.

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it. Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered. 

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Mechanical Engineering covers the fundamental engineering disciplines within Solid Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics, Coastal and Maritime Engineering, Energy Systems and Energy Conversion, Materials and Surface Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Engineering Design and Product Development. The Department has a scientific staff of about 135 persons, 100 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 80 persons.

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DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.