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PhD Candidate in Tailoring the Adhesion of the Paint Coatings

About the position

NTNU Nanomechanical Lab, Department of Structural Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is seeking a PhD Candidate in the field of interfacial adhesion mechanics. The PhD project is part of the innovation project for the industrial sector Tailoring Adhesion (TailAd) co-partnered by Jotun AS, SINTEF Industry and NTNU, and co-funded by Jotun AS and the Research Council of Norway

Understanding adhesion properties of the paint coatings, both to the substrate and between the different layers within the coating, is of crucial importance to their performance. When the substrate to be coated is a metal, adhesion of the coating to it is referred to as direct-to-metal adhesion. In most commercially important cases, multiple layers of organic coatings are applied on a metallic substrate and in such cases inter-layer adhesion also plays a crucial role in determining the performance of the whole coating system. Therefore, direct-to-metal adhesion and inter-layer adhesion are both commercially relevant but involve different interfacial mechanisms of adhesion. Adhesion of coatings is a complex phenomenon depending on surface free energy, chemical bonds, surface roughness, cleanliness, and mechanical strength, etc. As a result, the interfacial parameters determining the direct-to-metal adhesion and inter-layer adhesion are different. 

Furthermore, a good initial adhesion may not always guarantee a good long-term adhesion since all organic coatings will age with time and interact with their surrounding conditions by e.g., water absorption, UV degradation, biocide leaching, etc. during service-time. Ageing (physical and/or chemical) can degrade coating layers allowing easier diffusion of (for example) water to the interface between the substrate and the coating, consequently leading to the failure of an individual coating or the whole coating system. Thus, developing a robust characterization methodology and establishing a new knowledge platform for adhesion properties of coating films on metals and between polymers will enable us to predict and optimize the design and performance of the paint coatings.

The PhD candidate will contribute to the development of new adhesion characterization methods, correlations of adhesion strength between layers to surface morphology, chemical bonding and coating process, prediction and optimization of durable adhesion strength of coatings. The work will be carried out at laboratories of NTNU, SINTEF Industry and Jotun AS.

The PhD candidate will work at NTNU Nanomechanical Lab, chaired by three full time professors and two adjunct professors from the industry. In 2021, it is 16 PhD students, 1 post-doc fellows, and 1 senior researcher working at the NTNU Nanomechanical Lab.

The PhD candidate will report to the supervising team with main supervisor Professor Jianying He at NTNU and co-supervisors Professor Zhiliang Zhang at NTNU and Research scientist Naser Esmaeili at Jotun AS.

Duties of the position

  • Perform excellent and independent research on the topic attached to the position
  • Publish in top-ranking journals and conferences
  • Collaborate with the project team at Jotun AS, SINTEF Industry and NTNU
  • Interact with the research group where this position will be hosted and with international leading groups in the same fiel

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in mechanical/structural engineering, material science, physics or nanotechnology
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level 
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education. 
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program
  • Good written and oral English language skills

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Personal characteristics

  • Motivated and ambitious
  • Ability to work both individually and in a team environment and a high level of personal responsibility
  • Excellent  written and oral communication skills
  • Eager to disseminate research results through publications and presentations at international conferences

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 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.

The position is subject to the condition that the candidate can start in the position in the beginning of January 2022.

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: 

  • CV, certificates and diplomas 
  • Academic works – published or unpublished – that you would like to be considered in the assessment
  • Name and address of three referees 

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

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 and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

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 professor Jianying He, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR consultant Elin Pedersen Nystuen, 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-218/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 22.10.2021

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 Structural Engineering

We teach mechanical engineering, engineering and ICT, and civil and environmental engineering. The Department conducts internationally leading research and participates in several large national research projects. The Department of Structural Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 22nd October 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Gløshaugen

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