PhD Student

Last application date
Oct 31, 2019 09:33
TW08 - Department of Electrical Energy, Metals, Mechanical Constructions and Systems
Employment category
Doctoral fellow
Limited duration
Master of Science in Mechanical, Chemical or Physics Engineering.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

Thermo-Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication (TEHL) is a specific lubrication regime which typically occurs in non-conformal contacts, such as ball bearings, roller bearing, gear teeth,.. and is therefore very relevant in many machine applications. TEHL is characterized by thin lubricant films (50 nm-1 m) in which the hydrodynamic pressure can reach values up to GPa range (1-5 GPa), inducing elastic deformation of the opposing contact surfaces. At such high pressures, the lubricant becomes compressible, and behaves in a highly non-Newtonian way by local solidification and shear-thinning. Accurate and quantitative computational simulation of TEHL (Reynolds, CFD) requires therefore an accurate description of the lubricant’s compressibility and the rheology (i.e. piezo-viscosity and shear thinning) as well as the thermal properties (specific heat, conductivity), wall slip and cavitation. Today, however, mainly empirical constitutive models are applied, which typically involve curve fitting of experimental data, obtained for a particular common lubricant and under specific conditions. Hence, their range of applicability is rarely questioned when applying them to other lubricants, surface materials or operating conditions. Obviously such generalized empiricism does not contribute to the versatility, accuracy and reliability of continuum computational methodologies. In the past decades Molecular Dynamics (MD) has emerged as a more sophisticated computational approach to study interfacial phenomena and thin film rheology. Such computational approach offers the advantage to obtain an accurate estimate of the lubricant’s thermo-mechanical properties, by direct simulation of the lubricants molecular structure subject to different conditions of pressure, temperature, shear etc.. Your job will consist of developing a Multiscale Modelling framework, in which non-equilibrium Molecular Dynamics is exploited to derive appropriate constitutive relations that can be used in continuum simulation techniques i.e. local thermomechanical properties of lubricants, near-wall effects, molecular layering, mechanochemistry etc.

Profile of the candidate

  1. You hold a Master degree in Mechanical, Physical or Chemical engineering.
  2. You have a strong motivation for conducting scientific research at a high level. 
  3. You possess good analytical, and technical skills 
  4. You are interested in computational mathematics and Advanced Scientific Computing.
  5. Experience with programming in C++, Matlab, Python or equivalent is an advantage.
  6. You have knowledge and experience with Molecular Dynamics (e.g. LAMMPS)
  7. Experience with Fluid Mechanics and/or Tribology is an asset. 
  8. You take responsibility for the development of your project in a well-structured, thorough way, and you’re able to solve problems independently. You display creativity in solving problems, generating ideas or finding new ways of working.
  9. You have an open personality and willing to contribute to the team and participate in didactic projects. 
  10. You have excellent communication skills in English, both orally and written. Knowledge of Dutch is certainly an asset.

How to apply

For further information on the project and/or application, please contact Prof. Dieter Fauconnier ( or Prof. Toon Verstraelen ( ).