Postdoc: The role of water in the adhesion and friction at interfaces with a relevance to positioning challenges in nanolithography

Postdoc: The role of water in the adhesion and friction at interfaces with a relevance to positioning challenges in nanolithography

Published Deadline Location
19 Aug 16 Jan Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you interested in simultaneously unraveling the fundamentals of friction and contributing to the solution of friction-related challenges in computer chip production?

The research field of tribology, devoted to contact formation, friction and wear phenomena down to the atomic scale, is of direct and pressing relevance to the manufacture of semiconductor devices. Friction-induced stresses and deformations on the scale of only a few atomic spacings are starting to challenge the future of nanolithography technology, limiting the achievable feature size in semiconductor chips. 

When two surfaces are brought within a critical distance to each other, chains of water molecules with a nanoscale volume can condense from the vapor phase and form connections across the interface. The negative Laplace pressure inside such capillary bridges together with the surface tension pull the two surfaces toward each other. This attractive force induced by water capillary bridges contributes to the externally applied contact force and therefore impacts the load-controlled friction force.

In this project, you will use atomic force microscopy to investigate the nanoscale dynamics and mechanics of water and its impact on the adhesion and friction of interfaces with industrial relevance.


  1. F.-C. Hsia, C. C. Hsu, L. Peng, F. M. Elam, C. Xiao, S. Franklin, D. Bonn, B Weber. Contribution of Capillary Adhesion to Friction at Macroscopic Solid–Solid Interfaces. Phys. Rev. Appl. 17 034034 (2022).
  2. F.-C. Hsia, S. Franklin, P. Audebert, A. M. Brouwer, D. Bonn, B. Weber. Rougher is more slippery: How adhesive friction decreases with increasing surface roughness due to the suppression of capillary adhesion. Phys. Rev. Res. 3, 043204 (2021).
  3. F.-C. Hsia, F. M. Elam, D. Bonn, B. Weber, S. E. Franklin. Wear particle dynamics drive the difference between repeated and non-repeated reciprocated sliding. Tribol. Int. 142, 105983 (2020).




You need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree and must have research experience in a non-Dutch academic environment.

Conditions of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of 1 year (with a possibility of extension), with a salary in scale 10 (CAO-OI) and a range of employment benefits. ARCNL assists any new foreign Postdoc with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.


Contact Dynamics

The Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL) focuses on the fundamental physics and chemistry involved in current and future key technologies in nanolithography, primarily for the semiconductor industry. ARCNL is a public-private partnership between the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the VU University Amsterdam (VU), Groningen University (RUG) and the semiconductor equipment manufacturer ASML. ARCNL is located at the Science Park Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and has a size of approximately 100 scientists and support staff. See also

The research activities of the Contact Dynamics group aim at investigating and providing fundamental understanding of the mechanisms underpinning friction, friction changes over time and friction variability, as affected by wear phenomena, at forces, scales and other preconditions relevant to present and future nanolithography technology. This includes rough surface contact mechanics, adhesion, tribochemical wear, thin film lubrication and novel coatings.  


  • Postdoc
  • 1195611


Science Park 106, 1098 XG, Amsterdam

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