PhD Position Particle Free Contactless Wafer Handling, WP1

PhD Position Particle Free Contactless Wafer Handling, WP1

Published Deadline Location
18 Sep 10 Oct Delft

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 10 Oct 2023).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Job description

The fast and accurate handling, transportation, and positioning of thin, sensitive substrates, such as Si-wafers, solar cells, and flat panel display glass panels are all core operations in production and manufacturing systems in high-tech industry, and substrate handling systems can be found everywhere in this industry.

Every mechanical contact between system components in relative movement increases the risk of wear of these components and the release of wear particles in the system, and every mechanical contact between handling system and substrate increases the risk of contamination, damage, or even breakage of said substrate, all of which need to be avoided. And yet, in current substrate handling systems found in industry mechanical contact is prevalent, with the unavoidable resulting contamination of the substrates that are being handled.

In this research project in collaboration with our industrial partner, VDL-ETG, an important OEM supplier in the world-leading Dutch high-tech industry, we will develop new concepts for future handling systems for Si-wafers. This system will handle Si-wafers without mechanical contact when possible, and when unavoidable, make sure that the mechanical contact is without damage or contamination.

In this project three research directions are explored, that can be summarized as (1) the development of a contactless wafer gripper, (2) the study of materials and meta-materials that are safe in mechanical contact, and (3) the study of compliant mechanisms and machine components with reduced risk of wear particle generation.
As such, the project is performed in three closely connected yet clearly distinguishable parallel work-packages, each populated with a PhD student:

  • WP1: Development of contactless handling system for fast and accurate positioning of delicate thin substrates including a temperature conditioning system.

At TU Delft, a novel, air bearing based contactless handling concept is being developed in which a thin pressurized air film carries, moves and accurately positions substrates relative to the carrying system. First results show the potential to carry, transport and position thin substrates without any mechanical contact.

In this WP this new concept will be further studied and developed to be used in the development of a contactless end-effector for a wafer handling SCARA robot. Further challenges are to integrate the thermal conditioning of the wafer and the pre-alignment of the wafer in this end-effector. Understanding and optimizing the air flow between system and substrate to generate the required viscous traction on the substrate in order to control the position, while at the same time controlling the viscous heat loss, are key challenges in this research. Furthermore, the constrained space that is available to pick and place wafers in the storage needs to be considered in this development.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • MSc university degree in physics, mechanical engineering, mathematics or a related area.
  • Background in mechanical and system design, mechatronics,
  • Strong interest in theoretical and practical aspects of mechanical design, modelling and manufacturing.
  • Team player with strong communication skills.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

From chip to ship. From machine to human being. From idea to solution. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to understand our environment and discover its underlying mechanisms, research and education at the 3mE faculty focusses on fundamental understanding, design, production including application and product improvement, materials, processes and (mechanical) systems.

3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with high-tech lab facilities and international reach. It’s a large faculty but also versatile, so we can often make unique connections by combining different disciplines. This is reflected in 3mE’s outstanding, state-of-the-art education, which trains students to become responsible and socially engaged engineers and scientists. We translate our knowledge and insights into solutions to societal issues, contributing to a sustainable society and to the development of prosperity and well-being. That is what unites us in pioneering research, inspiring education and (inter)national cooperation.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? These videos will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04404


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Learn more about this employer


Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD, Delft

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you