PhD on Sensor and actuator layout optimization for thermal control

PhD on Sensor and actuator layout optimization for thermal control

Published Deadline Location
13 Jun 26 Jul Eindhoven

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Job description

The TU/e offers a PhD position within the 'ThermOpt' research project. This project is a collaboration between the TU/e and the company ASML, which develops lithography machines. The project involves two PhD positions, of which this vacancy is one.

The PhD position is embedded within the Dynamics and Control section of the Mechanical Engineering Department of TU/e. The Dynamics and Control section is home to 13 faculty members and approx. 40 researchers (PhD and postdoc) in the field of dynamical systems and control and offers a vibrant environment with excellent lab facilities on high-tech systems, robotics and automotive systems.

Project description

ASML's lithography machines are used in semiconductor manufacturing for the production of computer chips (see figure below). In these complex high-tech systems, an increasing number of thermal control loops has been introduced to limit the undesired effects of thermal disturbances on (nano-meter) positioning performance. Advanced thermal control solutions will become even more important for future machines, as - on the one hand - the thermal disturbances in the machine will increase further (mainly due to the increasing power consumption in the machine) and - on the other hand - the performance objectives on positioning performance will become more stringent to enable the production of computer chips that are even faster, more powerful and energy efficient than the current generation.

Project objective

To support future system designs for lithography systems, including hardware design, sensor and actuator layout and control solutions, two central, underlying and inter-related challenges are addressed in the ThermOpt project:1) How to construct computationally tractable and accurate dynamic models of thermo-mechanical systems? and 2) How to optimize thermal sensor and actuator layout in support of thermal control?

The PhD project associated to this vacancy aims to address the second challenge (but will interface intensively with another researcher taking on the first challenge). Hence the main objective is to develop an optimization approach for thermal sensor and actuator layout in support of thermal control. Optimal actuator and sensor layout design should be developed in view of the achievable closed-loop control system objectives, such as minimizing thermally induced deformations of essential machine components, leading to higher positioning accuracy. This requires high-quality thermo-mechanical modelling of the hardware to-be-designed and accurate modelling and quantification of the disturbances and performance variables associated to the (thermal) control objectives.

The combination of the large design space on actuator and sensor location, the complexity of the physical model, model uncertainty and nonlinearities causes the decision space to be of large dimension and difficult to explore. The search for suitable techniques to intelligently explore this design space is at the core of this project. We envision to explore state-of-the-art optimization techniques in combination with AI techniques to develop computational tools to resolve this exciting problem.

People involved in supervision:
The starting dates are flexible but before January 2023.

Moreover, the project will offer to the students an extensive training program on Systems and Control in the scope of the Dutch Institute for Systems and Control ( Moreover, a training program focusing on more generic and transferable skills required by professional researchers is offered ( This provides the students with a solid background for their research and future careers.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


The PhD candidate should have
  • a MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering or Systems and Control with a solid background in optimization, dynamical systems and control.
  • a strong interest and skills in both 1) developing new fundamental theories for thermal control and optimization and 2) applying such novel scientific developments to industrial high-tech context of ASML.
  • excellent communication skills and written/verbal knowledge of the English language.

Interviews with the selected PhD-candidates will take place on-site at TU/e in the Netherlands (if restrictions associated to the Covid-19 situation permit).

Conditions of employment

  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months.
  • To develop your teaching skills, you will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will make a Training and Supervision plan and you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • Should you come from abroad and comply with certain conditions, you can make use of the so-called '30% facility', which permits you not to pay tax on 30% of your salary.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes.
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V35.5709


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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