PhD Position in Materials Engineering
Catholic University of Leuven

PhD in Biomaterials
(ref. BAP-2023-248)
The PhD project will be performed in a unique interdisciplinary platform within the Advanced ceramics and powder metallurgy research group of the KU Leuven Department of Materials Engineering and the BIOMAT group of the KU Leuven Department of Oral Health Sciences. Within these two research groups, we bridge the gap between engineers and dentists. We focus on investigating the interplay between structural integrity, surface and functional properties, and biological behavior of biomedical ceramics, with the specific intention to develop new (bio)materials for dental implants and restorations with prolonged clinical lifetime.


All-ceramic tooth restorations and implants have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they have clear advantages regarding biocompatibility and aesthetic appearance. However, the brittleness and low reliability of ceramics severely limits their design and lifetime. Recent and innovative approaches have been inspired by natural materials, such as bone and tooth, with high damage tolerance to overcome the brittleness. The significant advance in additive manufacturing (AM) over the past years has also enhanced the potential to mimic the heterogeneous and functionally graded architecture of natural materials. Furthermore, AM enables producing patient-specific implants with a customized geometry. In this context, this PhD project will focus on (1) developing zirconia and lithium-disilicate based ceramics that can be used as the building blocks in a bio-inspired architecture, and (2) assembling the ceramic building blocks into bioinspired architecture via AM. A multi-material AM approach will be applied to join different ceramic grades, targeting the production of a strong implant core with a damage-tolerant surface. The clinical potential of the fabricated dental devices will be evaluated in collaboration with dental clinicians and biologists within the group.



We are looking for:

·      A motivated candidate with a master's degree in materials engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering or a related discipline.

·      Having experience in fracture mechanics of ceramic materials, modelling of fractures and/or additive manufacturing is a plus.

·      Since the project will be performed in an interdisciplinary group within two KU Leuven departments/groups, profound interest in bridging the gap between engineering and dentistry is needed.

·      Hands-on candidate paying close attention to detail.

·      A candidate passionate about research with a creative mind-set and enthusiasm to take initiatives to explore innovative ideas.

·      Good communication skills in written and spoken English.



·      A position in a young and dynamic interdisciplinary research group to conduct research towards a PhD at an internationally renowned research university (for further information regarding the PhD track at KU Leuven:

·      An attractive fully funded scholarship for 4 years of PhD research with multiple benefits (health insurance, access to university infrastructure and sports facilities, etc.).

·      The opportunity to develop scientific and personal skills. You will be embedded in a working environment with the expertise from various backgrounds, including materials science, dentistry, biology, and chemistry, etc. More networking opportunities will be offered through participation in conferences, workshops and collaborations with local and international research groups. Information on the training opportunities via

·      A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is located in Leuven, a town of approximately 100,000 inhabitants, located close to Brussels (25 km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels International Airport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university, international research centers, and industry lead to a safe town with high quality of life, with a warm welcome to non-Dutch speaking people and with ample opportunities for social and sport activities. The mixture of cultures and research fields are some of the ingredients making the university of Leuven the most innovative university in Europe. Further information can be found on the website of the university:

·     KU Leuven (University of Leuven) has been a center of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium's largest and highest-ranked university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. The university caters to over 60,000 students from more than 140 countries. KU Leuven's three doctoral schools provide internationally oriented PhD tracks for more than 4,000 doctoral students. KU Leuven and affiliated knowledge institutes provide fertile ground for innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship in the Leuven region. This favorable climate for knowledge-driven entrepreneurship and innovation makes the Leuven region an attractive location for many high-tech companies.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Fei Zhang, mail:


Interviews will take place in July. Intended project start date: early September 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The following documents need to be submitted:

·        Motivation letter

·        CV

·        Transcripts of academic records


·        English Proficiency Certificate might be needed if you have not obtained a previous diploma in a program taught in English

You can apply for this job no later than June 30, 2023 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 30, 2023
  • Tags: Materiaalkunde
  • Download: file

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