PhD position in Micro-mechanics of dynamic friction in a single-grain contact

PhD position in Micro-mechanics of dynamic friction in a single-grain contact

Published Deadline Location
16 May 22 May Enschede

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Job description

At the Surface Technology and Tribology (STT) chair in the faculty of Engineering Technology (ET), we are currently seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate to research on the topic of friction mechanisms in single-grain sliding.

The challenge

Under highly accelerated slip, several physical phenomena contribute to the dynamic friction behavior of mechanical systems. Understanding friction in grain (micro)-scale contacts is relevant to several industrial and geo-mechanical systems. For example, loss of friction and slip causes errors in highly accurate positioning stages in lithography. Earthquakes also occur due to sudden slip when the frictional strength of the crushed rock granules in geological faults is overcome.

We plan to study the friction phenomena in a single-grain (asperity) contact by performing experiments to accurately model friction during high-acceleration sliding. Dynamic friction in single-grain (sphere-on-flat) contact in a fluid environment is affected by coupled phenomena such as frictional heating, fluid pressurization, etc. By instrumental analysis of single-grain experiments, we can formulate a physical basis for these friction processes and derive experimentally validated single-grain friction laws for highly dynamic slip. Our aim is:

To design and perform sliding experiments to investigate the micro-mechanics of dynamic frictional phenomena and develop friction laws for single-grain contact.
Job description
  • The PhD candidate will plan and implement the research towards the project objectives by:
  • participating in the design and development of a setup for highly dynamic sliding experiments.
  • performing in-(/ex-)situ thermographic and spectroscopic studies to inspect and quantify variations in frictional forces and phenomena.
  • developing experimentally validated, grain-scale friction models.
  • working with an interdisciplinary team in partnering departments and universities to efficiently calibrate and implement friction models to build larger scale Multiphysics solvers.

You will actively participate during the progress meetings and discussions of our research chair and project partners. We encourage our researchers to present and publish their results at international conferences and in reputed journals.


University of Twente (UT)


  • MSc (masters) degree in Mechanical Engineering or equivalent, preferably with a background in tribology.
  • Experience in experimental design and techniques is an advantage!
  • You are passionate to learn and to improve.
  • You thrive in a collaborative environment.
  • You are proficient in English language and interpersonal skills.

Conditions of employment

  • A full-time 4-year PhD position.
  • Excellent working conditions in a very exciting and creative environment within a green and lively campus.
  • A professional and personal development program within Graduate School Twente, culminating in professional scientific development and leading to acquiring a PhD degree.
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.770,- (first year) to € 3.539,- (fourth year).
  • There are attractive benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.
  • A proven pension scheme.
  • Minimum of 29 holiday days per year in case of full-time employment.
  • A vibrant ecosystem with encouraging colleagues and mentorship, where internationalization with equal opportunity is an important aspect of the strategic agenda.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1744


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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