PhD Position in Vibration-Assisted Control of Friction Forces

Updated: 30 days ago
Deadline: 15 May 2021

Challenge: Control of friction force.
Change: : Exploit waves and vibration to alter friction forces.
Impact: Minimize wear and safe energy to overcome friction processes.

Friction is the resistance to motion of one object sliding against another object. Despite this illusory simple concept and its application to everyday life, friction keeps being one of the most complex, misunderstood and controversial problems in physics and engineering. One of the current grand challenges concerning friction in modern engineering consists in achieving a control of friction without adding lubricant materials, minimizing wear and energy to overcome friction processes. A possible way to alter a friction force could be achieved by exploiting the effects induced by a deliberately applied oscillatory force. In practice, it is quite common to witness friction reduction caused by applied oscillatory forces, since jiggling an object that seems to be stuck tends often to be an efficient and practical strategy to get it loose. The list of applications can be quite large and spans between Civil Engineering (e.g. decommissioning of joints, pile driving), Mechanical Engineering (e.g. positioning control in robots) and Biomedical Engineering (e.g interaction between needles and soft tissues). Despite the practical efficiency of the technique, a universally accepted physical interpretation of how static and kinetic friction forces change and react to externally applied vibration is still missing.

In this PhD project you will explore how applied oscillatory forces may alter friction forces for different types of contact configurations, from micro to macro scale. Most of the research activity will consist in developing mathematical models, combined with tailored experiments to validate such models, aiming to scale up the technique for industrial application. As part of this project, you will engage in discussions with industrial partners.

As a PhD student, you will be a member of the Mechanics and Physics of Structures group, a section of the Department of Engineering Structures at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at TU Delft. We are a young and enthusiastic group, whose members are internationally recognized in their respective fields. Our scientific aim is to develop new physical insights and know-how in the field of mechanics and physics of structures. As a team, we actively seek to collaborate with other sections within the Department of Engineering Structures, throughout the faculty and TU Delft as a whole, and with other scientific and industrial partners in the Netherlands and around the world.

The requirements of a successful PhD candidate are the following ones:

  • An MSc. degree in civil or mechanical engineering, or applied physics or mathematics;
  • Demonstrated experience of mathematical/analytical/programming skills through a Master project/thesis;
  • Strong interest to invest in the following areas: mechanical vibration, contact mechanics and experimental mechanics;
  • Fluent communication skills in English, both in written and oral. If your mother language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction, you must submit proof of English proficiency from either TOEFL (minimum total score of 100) or IELTS (minimum total score of 7.0). Proof of English language proficiency certificates older than two years are not accepted.
  • A curiosity-driven mindset and the capacity to communicate and collaborate with peers.

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 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 we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

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 and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct ). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Alessandro Cabboi, Assistant Professor, email: A.Cabboi@tudelft.nl . 

For information about the application procedure, please contact Jacqueline Barnhoorn, email: Secr-ES-CiTG@tudelft.nl .

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 15th of May 2021 via the application button and upload:

  • A detailed curriculum vitae;
  • A motivation letter stating why you would like to invest your next 4 years in the advertised research field.
  • 1-page abstract of your MSc thesis written in English.
  • Transcripts of BSc and MSc studies, copies of BSc and MSc diplomas;
  • Proof of English language level. If your mother language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction you must submit proof of English proficiency from either TOEFL (minimum total score of 100) or IELTS (minimum total score of 7.0). Proof of English language proficiency certificates older than two years are not accepted.

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

If your MSc diploma and transcript are not in Dutch, English, French or German and you will be the selected candidate, the TU Delft will ask you to deliver a certified translation.

You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.


Challenge: Control of friction force.
Change: : Exploit waves and vibration to alter friction forces.
Impact: Minimize wear and safe energy to overcome friction processes.

Friction is the resistance to motion of one object sliding against another object. Despite this illusory simple concept and its application to everyday life, friction keeps being one of the most complex, misunderstood and controversial problems in physics and engineering. One of the current grand challenges concerning friction in modern engineering consists in achieving a control of friction without adding lubricant materials, minimizing wear and energy to overcome friction processes. A possible way to alter a friction force could be achieved by exploiting the effects induced by a deliberately applied oscillatory force. In practice, it is quite common to witness friction reduction caused by applied oscillatory forces, since jiggling an object that seems to be stuck tends often to be an efficient and practical strategy to get it loose. The list of applications can be quite large and spans between Civil Engineering (e.g. decommissioning of joints, pile driving), Mechanical Engineering (e.g. positioning control in robots) and Biomedical Engineering (e.g interaction between needles and soft tissues). Despite the practical efficiency of the technique, a universally accepted physical interpretation of how static and kinetic friction forces change and react to externally applied vibration is still missing.

In this PhD project you will explore how applied oscillatory forces may alter friction forces for different types of contact configurations, from micro to macro scale. Most of the research activity will consist in developing mathematical models, combined with tailored experiments to validate such models, aiming to scale up the technique for industrial application. As part of this project, you will engage in discussions with industrial partners.

As a PhD student, you will be a member of the Mechanics and Physics of Structures group, a section of the Department of Engineering Structures at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at TU Delft. We are a young and enthusiastic group, whose members are internationally recognized in their respective fields. Our scientific aim is to develop new physical insights and know-how in the field of mechanics and physics of structures. As a team, we actively seek to collaborate with other sections within the Department of Engineering Structures, throughout the faculty and TU Delft as a whole, and with other scientific and industrial partners in the Netherlands and around the world.

The requirements of a successful PhD candidate are the following ones:

  • An MSc. degree in civil or mechanical engineering, or applied physics or mathematics;
  • Demonstrated experience of mathematical/analytical/programming skills through a Master project/thesis;
  • Strong interest to invest in the following areas: mechanical vibration, contact mechanics and experimental mechanics;
  • Fluent communication skills in English, both in written and oral. If your mother language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction, you must submit proof of English proficiency from either TOEFL (minimum total score of 100) or IELTS (minimum total score of 7.0). Proof of English language proficiency certificates older than two years are not accepted.
  • A curiosity-driven mindset and the capacity to communicate and collaborate with peers.

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 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 we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

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 and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct ). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Alessandro Cabboi, Assistant Professor, email: A.Cabboi@tudelft.nl . 

For information about the application procedure, please contact Jacqueline Barnhoorn, email: Secr-ES-CiTG@tudelft.nl .

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 15th of May 2021 via the application button and upload:

  • A detailed curriculum vitae;
  • A motivation letter stating why you would like to invest your next 4 years in the advertised research field.
  • 1-page abstract of your MSc thesis written in English.
  • Transcripts of BSc and MSc studies, copies of BSc and MSc diplomas;
  • Proof of English language level. If your mother language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction you must submit proof of English proficiency from either TOEFL (minimum total score of 100) or IELTS (minimum total score of 7.0). Proof of English language proficiency certificates older than two years are not accepted.

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

If your MSc diploma and transcript are not in Dutch, English, French or German and you will be the selected candidate, the TU Delft will ask you to deliver a certified translation.

You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.


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