PhD Candidate in Tribology and Lubricant Formulation

Trondheim, Norway
17 Mar 2021
End of advertisement period
15 Apr 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD Candidate at Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MTP) in lubricant formulation. We are looking for candidates with a background in one or ideally more of these areas: organic chemistry, tribology, experimental physics, chemical engineering, materials science.

Lubricants are used for achieving the required level of friction and wear rates in moving systems. The formulation of liquid lubricants is rather simple, i.e. consists of a base fluid in the highest proportion (up to 95%) and an additive package (chemical substances providing functionality and improving its properties). Lubricantion is a complex problem with many different physical and chemical processes occurring on different length scales. As a result, modern lubricant formulation is still based on tweaking existing recipes. The new products are typically improved by trial and error. Formulating lubricants requires gathering information of available chemicals and substances that have the physical and chemical characteristics required for providing a system with the desired friction and wear.

This PhD position will be part of a research project that has the goal of developing new tools and methods for formulating new lubricants with potentially environmentally acceptable properties. This is a multidisciplinary project in which data scientist, physicist, chemists and tribologists will work together to develop new and green lubricant formulations. We are looking for a PhD candidate able to formulate and test the substances proposed by the artificial intelligence tool developed in this project. There will be collaborators in Germany who work in the field of data mining and machine learning.

About the Materials Group

The Materials Group deals with applications of materials science: engineering materials and surfaces with desirable properties for specific applications. The group consists of an interdisciplinary mixture of engineers, physicists, and chemists. We have many industrial and international academic collaborations and aim to provide a stimulating environment for young scientists

You will report to Professor Nuria Espallargas

Duties of the position

  • Formulate the lubricants assuring proper dispersibility of the ingredients.
  • Test the compatibility of the lubricants with metallic and polymeric materials.
  • Test basic properties of the lubricants from a tribology perspective.
  • Interact with the data mining expert of the project to boost the search for the best substances.
  • Conduct independent research and publish the results in recognised scientific journals.

Required selection criteria

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials engineering, physics or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Other required selection criteria

  • Knowledge of organic chemistry with focus on lubricant formulation
  • Knowledge of analytical techniques for organic and inorganic compounds in complex mixtures
  • Documented experience in experimental chemistry

Preferred selection criteria

  • Knowledge or familiarity of tribology
  • Experimental nanotribology (e.g. AFM, nanotribometer)
  • Knowledge or familiarity of quartz crystal microbalance (QCM)
  • Good written and oral English language skills
  • Experience or familiarity with artificial intelligence and data mining will be seen as a plus
  • Experience in industry after the Master degree (lubricant producers if possible) will be seen as a plus

Personal characteristics

  • Highly motivated, with strong experimental skills.
  • Interest in strong interaction with theoretical researchers.
  • Be able to work both in a research team.
  • Creative – Creating new ideas and new technologies/methods
  • Critical – Asking the right questions
  • Respectful – Care about your colleague

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 482 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Engineering, within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

The position is subject to external funding.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • Motivation letter explaining why you think you are the perfect match for the position
  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Name and address of three referees

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Nuria Espallargas, email

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number IV-95/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 15 April 2021

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

We educate graduates who can create new products, operate and maintain products, and manage projects. The Department has a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. We conduct wide-ranging research in fields such as technology, energy, product quality and development, and productivity. The Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 15th April 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Dep. of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

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