A STORY OF TALENT: postdoctoral researcher of Sant’anna tecip institute is the winner of the EU marie curie grant for novel sensing and acoustic applications

New ultrathin monitors and loudspeakers are sleek and slender, they allow the display to be tilted, they are flexible and they provide the perfect immersive audio experience. Conventional loudspeakers were heavy and hard to integrate into lightweight structures while novel and extremely flat loudspeakers that use dielectric elastomer actuators will overcome the disadvantages of conventional materials.

Giacomo Moretti, a postdoctoral researcher in Mechanics of multifunctional transducers and Non-linear systems dynamics at the TeCIP Institute PERCRO Lab., has been awarded the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie 2-year fellowship for his project Detune. In particular, his research focused on smart materials and dielectric elastomers (DE) actuators including electroactive polymers, ferroelectrics and ionic polymer metal composites (IPMCs) as lightweight and cost‐effective materials for new electromechanical devices.

Giacomo Moretti will work at the Intelligent Material Systems Lab of Saarland University (Germany) under the supervision of Professor Stefan Seelecke exploiting the properties of the shape memory alloy nickel-titanium in a wide range of technical applications.

The Detune project will focus on lightweight dielectric elastomer loudspeakers using an actuator vibrating in the breathing mode. Experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches to increasing permittivity in dielectric elastomers and repeatability for acoustic testing will be explored as a method of producing more efficient electroactive polymers. The project aims to develop dielectric elastomer actuators used in robotics, haptics, energy harvesting, vibration control, sensing and acoustics applications for high-performance audio with ultrathin design characteristics.

In 2011, Giacomo Moretti earned his Bachelor’s degree in Energy Engineering at the University of Pisa and his First Level Diploma in Engineering at Sant’Anna School (honors program graduate in 2012). He received his PhD degree in Emerging Technologies (ocean wave energy converters based on dielectric elastomer generators) at the TeCip Institute under the supervision of Marco Fontana. As the recipient of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual European Fellowship at the University of Saarland he will further explore possible applications of DEAs as loudspeakers. Recent technological advancements in smart materials for flexible sensors and actuators included micro-fluidic pumps, ultrathin displays, tunable lenses, soft actuators for robots, strain and pressure sensors to monitor body functions and energy harvesters from human motion and natural resources like ocean waves.

In receiving the fellowship, Moretti thanked Sant’Anna School faculty members he worked with for their outstanding guidance and continued support throughout the research. “In the 2-year Marie Curie program I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the scientific process and develop my research questions,” he said.