Research Assistant for 3D Printing Solar Sails

University of Liverpool

Postdoctorate Position Fixed Term Liverpool, UK

Uploaded 27 Apr 2020

Job Description

Faculty: Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering

Location: University Campus 


Salary: £29,177 pa 

Hours of Work: Full-Time 

Tenure: Fixed-term for 6 months 


A Research Assistant is sought to work on Additive Manufacturing for space applications as part of the Connecting Everything II/EPSRC Network+ grant “Manufacturing of 3D-printed morphing origami solar sails for next generation of CubeSats”. The post holder will be involved in the manufacturing of a thick-origami solar sail with embedded Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) film. PDLC allows a change in the local reflectivity of the solar sail. As part of this project, the post holder is expected to develop a new support/mechanism for self-foldable origami deployable structure’s membrane where PDLCs are going to be connected. The post holder will benefit from a stimulating environment with experts in Additive Manufacturing within the School of Engineering and with the opportunity to interact with our project partners, Oxford Space Systems and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). 

Supervision received

The formal supervisors are Dr Stefania Soldini and Dr Paolo Paoletti. You will also engage with other members of the research group and our industrial partners Oxford Space Systems and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. 

The working environment

The post holder will be based primarily at the University of Liverpool, School of Engineering and he/she will have access to Dr Paoletti’s robotic laboratory @LERT (At Liverpool Engineering Robotic Technologies lab), where state-of-the-art rapid prototyping and testing facilities are available. It is expected that there will be some travel required to our domestic partner, Oxford Space Systems, and also for conferences and workshops.

To learn more, please watch the YouTube video project overview at the following link below:

Person Specification


The key responsibilities of the post holder will include: 

  • Carrying out original research on spacecraft’s self-folding origami deployable structures and development in the fields of space robotics and additive manufacturing for space applications
  • Designing a thick origami solar sail and its folding mechanism
  • Numerical simulations of the folding procedure
  • Selection of materials for UltramakerS5 (3D printer) from the sail meambran to the polymer dispersed liquid Chrystal device
  • Prototyping of the folding mechanism with UltramakerS5
  • Presenting research findings to colleagues and at conferences
  • Providing a final report with the undertaken activities

Other responsibilities include: 

  • Ensuring safe working practices at all times 
  • Undertaking professional development and training

An excellent academic record is essential for this position. Excellent, ambitious candidates with relevant skills and high levels of achievement are sought. The ability to work within a team, to communicate across disciplines and to work independently is essential. Please provide a copy of your academic transcripts for BEng and MEng/MSc, CV, one reference letter ideally from your MEng/MSc thesis supervisor and a cover letter.