Biomechanics in health and disease:
advanced physical tools for innovative early diagnosis
H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018 n. 812772

ESR15. Massimiliano Berardi

M.BerardiShort biographic note 

Born in 1993, he studied Mechanics of Materials (BSc) and Materials Engineering (MSc), specialising in Bio-related and Functional Materials. He studied in Italy, Sweden, and Australia.

He recently completed his master studies at the University of Trento with a thesis on the applications of Melt Electrospinning Writing in Tissue Engineering and Soft Robotics.

He's currently working as a Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher at Optics11 (Amsterdam), within the Phys2BioMed project.

His research focuses on mechanical characterisation of biological samples and cells. This includes comparative studies using AFM and fiber optics-based nanoindenters (Piuma technology, Optics11), and the developement of new measurement set-ups to obtain mechanobiological fingerprints.



Project Title

Optomechanical instruments and measurement methods in mechanobiology


Start date

1st June 2019






1. To compare nano-indentation measurements of Piuma Nano-indenter on biological tissues and cells to AFM measurements. 2. To identify alternative ways of using the Piuma measurement technology to measure mechanics of biological tissues and cells (e.g. she ar force, adhesion force, unconfined compression, local microrheology...). 3. To create a measurement set-up for a new mechanical test using Piuma technology, possibly combined with microscopy optical techniques, which provides complementary information on mechanobiological fingerprints; to explore whether the new measurement set-up provides unprecedented insight on a diagnostics problem that cannot be addressed with standard nano-indentation alone. 4. To develop a mechano-interferometric set-up for automatic calibration of cantilevers according to the metrological method described in Beekmans et al., Surf. Topogr.: Metrol. Prop. 3 (2015) 025004; to demonstrate that the calibration setup can be designed in an easy-to-use form factor for both standard AFM cantilevers and fiber-top/ferrule-top cantilevers, at costs that would adapt well to commercial production.


Expected results

Comparison study of existing technology, new measurement set-up, comparison study of new measurement set-up with existing technology.

Planned secondments

1- UMIL, A. Podestà (4 months at month 8). To provide comparison measurements of nano-indenter with AFM. 2- IFJPAN, M. Lekka (4 months at month 13). Using the Piuma Nano-indenter to study human bladder cells, comparing its performance with conventional AFM, developing new mechanical analysis techniques.


Optical interferometry based micropipette aspiration provides real-time sub-nanometer spatial resolution. Massimiliano Berardi, Kevin Bielawski, Niek Rijnveld, Grzegorz Gruca, Hilde Aardema, Leni van Tol, Gijs Wuite & B. Imran Akca. Communications Biology volume 4, Article number: 610 (2021)