Dr. Enrico Mastropaolo - Senior Lecturer
School of Engineering, The University of Edinburgh (Scotland UK)

I received a Laurea degree in Microelectronics Engineering from the Universita' degli Studi di Padova, (Padova, Italy). Afterwards, I joined the School of Engineering, at The University of Edinburgh, where I obtained a PhD degree in Microsystems and Microfabrication and continued my research activity as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate. Now I am Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering (affiliated to the research Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems (IMNS)). I have extensive expertise in micro and nano fabrication and development of micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). My research includes design, simulations, fabrication and characterization of MEMS, focussing on electrothermal and piezoelectric transduction. In the last years, I have been extending my research activity to novel nano-materials (graphene), nanostructures (zinc oxide nanowires), composite materials (nanostructures-polymers), polymer structures, biomimetic structures to develop micro mechanical systems (sensors and actuators) with applications in acoustics, robotics and energy harvesting. Currently, I am focussing my attention on piezoelectric force sensors and on the interaction between micro and small-scale structures with fluid flows.

Interested in doing a PhD? See FAQ section at the bottom of page for PhD opportunities.

Scottish Microelectronics Centre
Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems
School of Engineering
The University of Edinburgh (Scotland UK)

Find me on Linkedin, ResearchGate and Twitter:


MEMS sensors and actuators

  • Design, simulation, fabrication and characterisation of MEMS structures
  • Microfabrication processes and techniques
  • Silicon carbide MEMS sensors and resonators
  • Electrothermal and piezoelectric MEMS transducers
  • Non-linear behaviour of MEMS resonators
  • MEMS pressure sensors and microphones
  • Polymer MEMS
  • Energy harvesting
Nanostructures and novel materials for MEMS

  • Zinc oxide nanostrures
  • Hydrothermal growth of nanostructures
  • Hybrid materials, nanomaterials, polymer composites
  • Piezoelectric nanomaterials and composites
  • Graphene-based MEMS
  • Electrospun fibers
  • Mechanical properties of polymers for microsystems
Biomimetic and bioinspiration

  • Biomimetic micro and nano structures
  • Micro and nano fabrication of biological structures
  • Biomechanisms
  • Bio-inspired sensors and actuators
  • Interaction of micro and small-scale structures with flows
  • Wettability of micro/nano patterned surfaces
Biological Architecture Laboratory (BAL)

Three events funded by the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh. Link to BAL website.


- Naomi Nakayama, Biological Sciences
- Jamie Davies, Medicine
- Enrico Mastropaolo, Engineering
- Jon Marles-Wright, Biological Sciences
- Ross McLean, Edinburgh College of Art
- Lara Isbel, Institute for Academic Development
- Sara Shinton, Shinton Consulting

Flexible and stretchable force sensor (FlexFo)
Funding body: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Period: Dec 2017 - Feb 2019
Principal Investigator: Dr. Enrico Mastropaolo (School of Engineering)
Post-doctoral Research Associate: Dr. Graham Wood
The University of Edinburgh

FlexFo utilises an innovative procedure for efficiently integrating piezoelectric nanostructures into flexible polymer substrates. The resulting hybrid material is used to develop highly-sensitive flexible force sensors with stretching capability.
The flight and function of the dandelion fruit
Check out our latest results published in Nature 562, pages 414ā€“418 (2018) .
Funding body: The Leverhulme Trust (link to Leverhulme newsletter magazine September 2015, see page 5 for featured article)
Period: Mar 2016 - Mar 2019
- PI - Dr. Naomi Nakayama (School of Biological Sciences)
- Co-I - Dr. Ignazio Maria Viola (School of Engineering)
- Co-I - Dr. Enrico Mastropaolo (School of Engineering)
- Post-doctoral Research Associate: Dr. Madeleine Seale
- Post-doctoral Research Associate: Dr. Cathal Cummins
The University of Edinburgh

The dandelion fruit consists of umbrella-like filaments and a weight (the seed) at the bottom, which together resemble a parachute at first glance. However, its flight mechanisms remain unexplained since the engineering principles of parachutes cannot apply at the small surface area and flow scales involved. In this project, we are resolving how the filaments interact with air in order to understand the mechanisms by which the dandelion fruit achieves flight. Using computer simulations and experiments on "real" dandelions and microfabricated replicas, we analyse the engineering of the fruit structure and the fluid-structure interaction to identify the key design features that confer its remarkable flight capacity.
Furthermore, the filaments interact with water in two distinct modes: repelling water in light rain, but attracting water under heavy rain. We characterise the structural and wettability features of the fruit to identify the design features that are responsible for its unique modes of interaction with water.
Video released by Nature journal
Video released by ScienceNews
Graphene Micro-sensors for Adaptive Acoustic Transduction (GMAAT)
Funding body: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- PI - Prof. Rebecca Cheung (School of Engineering)
- Co-I - Dr. Michael Newton (School of Music)
- Co-I - Dr. Enrico Mastropaolo (School of Engineering)
The University of Edinburgh

This project aims to develop novel acoustic transduction technology for use in hearing aids. The key proposition is to use an ultra thin-film membrane as the vibrating mechanical component. The device will provide transduction of acoustic vibrations in air to an electrical signal using an innovative sensor positioned under the vibrating membrane. Main advantages of such an approach include adaptive gain control, selective frequency tuneability, improved signal to noise performance over conventional transducers and multi-channel scalability.
- PhD project: Microsystems for energy harvesting
Ammar Bin Che Mahzan (School of Engineering, Univ. of Edinburgh) from 2017

- PhD project: Mechanical and electrical properties of polymer composites for MEMS
Karina Jeronimo Martinez (Principal's Career Development Scholarship, School of Engineering, Univ. of Edinburgh) from 2015

Piezo-electric materials generate an electric field when subjected to mechanical strain and, vice versa, experience a mechanical strain when subjected to an electric field. Piezo-electric ceramics with very low elasticity, are used in many everyday products such as loudspeakers and signal transducers. However, nowadays great attention is focussed on flexible materials for novel applications such as wearable sensors, smart clothes, soft robotics, flexible displays and further for tissue engineering and polymer scaffolding.
Zinc oxide nanoparticles and nanowires are being integrated into a polymer. The mechanical,electrical and electro-mechanical properties of the polymer composites are tested. A range of techniques for embedding the particles into the polymer are investigated.
- PhD project: Synthesis, fabrication and characterisation of zinc oxide nanostructures for biomimetic, drug delivery and biosensing applications
Atif Syed (School of Engineering studentship, Univ. of Edinburgh) 2013-2017

The integration of nanomaterials into polymers for developing novel hybrid Smart Materials is attracting great attention within the international research community. Smart Materials change their properties in response to external stimuli so that they can be used for detecting changes in the surrounding environment. Smart Materials have lot of potential for application in every-day life gadgets, biology, medicine, electronics etc. The project aims first to develop hybrid Smart Materials made from piezoelectric nanowires and polymers. The second aim of the project is to use the developed hybrid Smart Materials for the implementation of efficient and low-cost MEMS actuators/sensors in order to make biomedical sensors and drug delivery/drug analysis system.
- MSc by research: Design and simulation of polymer-based MEMS for chemical sensors
Angelos Spanos (School of Engineering, Univ. of Edinburgh) 2014-2017

Polymer materials can be used for detecting organic volatile compounds. Some polymers swell (increase volume) when exposed to certain volatile organic compounds (VOC) and can be used for implementing electronic noses (e-noses). E-noses are bulky and expensive so that cheap and smaller solutions are needed for making these types of devices more accessible and portable (i.e. in the medical/biomedical market and consumer electronics market). A possible solution is the implementation of these sensors as micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). In order to achieve efficient devices, work has to be done from the design side for optimising the chemical-mechanical transduction of the structures (i.e. the magnitude of mechanical deflection in response to exposure to the VOC). In addition, solutions are needed for transferring the consequent mechanical response into the electrical domain (electro-mechanical transduction) thus obtaining a signal that could be further processed by electronic circuitry (i.e. piezoelectric transduction). The project aims to design an optimal structure for polymer chemical sensors. Finite element simulations will be used for achieving an optimal MEMS structure. Particular attention has to be focused on the chemical-mechanical-electrical transduction mechanisms and coupling. In addition, according to time availability, the circuitry around the MEMS sensor providing power supply, control and read-out will be developed.
Courses in Mechanical Engineering (The University of Edinburgh):
Structural Mechanics and Dynamics 3 (3rd year) SCQF Credit level 09 See course info
Group Design Project (Design of Micro-systems) (4th year) SCQF Credit level 10 See course info
Supervision of BEng Individual Project(4th year) SCQF Credit level 10 See course info
Advanced dynamics and applications 5 (5th year) SCQF Credit level 11 See course info
Supervision of MEng Individual Project 5 (5th year) SCQF Credit level 11 See course info

Interested in a post-doc?

For info, please write me a short email with subject 'Post-doc info request'. In the email, include research interests and background, attach CV.

Interested in a PhD?

For info on doing a PhD with me, please write a short email with subject 'PhD info request'. In the email, include educational background and research interests, attach CV.
PhD applications must be submitted on line on the Postgraduate Research Degree Programmes website (link here).

- PhD topic 1: Materials for bio-inspired sensors and energy harvesters (link here).
- PhD topic 2: Piezoelectric MEMS microphones
- PhD topic 3: Bio-inspired small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles: design and microfabrication.

A full list of PhD opportunities available in the School of Engineering at the Univ. of Edinburgh can be found at this link: PhD opportunities SoE.
If particularly interested in a PhD in the Research Institute which I am part of, select 'Integrated Micro and Nano Systems' in the Research Institute field.
For info on how to apply for PhD, visit the Postgraduate Research Degree Programmes website (link here).

Dr. Enrico Mastropaolo
Scottish Microelectronics Centre
Alexander Crum Brown Road
(King's Buildings)
Edinburgh (UK)