PhD Position Particle Free Contactless Wafer Handling, WP1

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 10 Oct 2023 - 21:59 (UTC)

20 Sep 2023
Job Information

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Research Field

Researcher Profile

First Stage Researcher (R1)

Application Deadline

10 Oct 2023 - 21:59 (UTC)
Type of Contract

Job Status

Not Applicable
Hours Per Week

Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?

Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?


Offer 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.

  • WP2: see vacancy TUD04405
  • WP3: see vacancy TUD04406

Specific Requirements
  • 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 .

Additional Information

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.

Selection process

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply by 10 October 2023 via the application button and upload your:

  • Motivation and CV.
  • Abstract of your MSc thesis.
  • Contact information for up to 3 references.
  • List of grades.

For information about the application procedure, please contact our HR advisor Linda Verhaar,

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

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

- Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.

Additional comments

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Ron van Ostayen, .

Website for additional job details

Work Location(s)
Number of offers available
Delft University of Technology
Postal Code
2628 CD
Mekelweg 2

Where to apply



Mekelweg 2
Postal Code

2628 CD

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