PhD in Engineering and Tribology of Nano and Micro Structured Surfaces

University of Glasgow

Project Description

Tribological applications of specialised nano and micro structured surfaces (surfaces with small-scale patterns) will be examined. Tribology is the science and engineering of surfaces in contact and encompasses friction, wear, lubrication and contact stiffness. The aim is to understand how surfaces with certain structuring can be useful in designing contacts with various engineering advantages. There are two major components: the first will involve the fabrication of the surfaces - the second will entail tribological testing and modelling to help understand the underlying physics.

State of the art facilities in micro fabrication at the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre ( based at University of Glasgow will be utilised. Particular surface patterns will be designed and realised on certain material surfaces. Here lab based skills will be important in terms of setting up the fabrication process in a clean-room environment to accurately produce the required surfaces. 

Testing and modelling will be carried out to probe the applications of tribological contacts having particular surface structure. This will involve designing and realising suitable mechanical experiments to draw out the essential contact behaviour of the surfaces. Experimental skills are essential and will involve rig design, instrumentation, data logging and analysis. The project will draw upon available modelling approaches in contact mechanics and tribology to help understand the physically observed behaviour.

There are numerous industrial applications - contact between surfaces is ubiquitous across the engineering world from the nano-scale to the macroscale and from computer disc-drives to aero-engine joints. The project will be supervised by Dr Daniel Mulvihill and co-supervised by Prof Nikolaj Gadegaard. Excellent opportunities exist for collaboration with partner groups - Universities of Aberdeen, Oxford, and Cambridge. The project is suited to a strong candidate who wishes to pursue an academic/industrial career in materials engineering, materials science or microfabrication. The exposure to a host of advanced nanofabrication and experimental testing techniques and to modelling approaches will be very valuable.


Applicants should have a relevant honours degree awarded at (minimum) 2.1 classification, (or equivalent) of at least four years duration. Degrees in Engineering, Materials Science and Physics are particularly suitable.


The studentship will cover home tuition fees and provide a stipend of £14,296 per annum for 3.5 years. To be eligible for this funding, applicants must attract home fees and have ‘settled status’ in the United Kingdom along with being ‘ordinarily resident’ for the past three years.

It should be noted that other terms may also apply. For full details:

How to apply

Application is made by using the online system at the following link for admission as a postgraduate research student:

Note, that this application is to gain admission to our PGR programme and the decision is based on academic achievements. An offer of admission may be sent out before a decision on the Scholarship is made. Applicants will have their applications further vetted and will most likely have an interview/discussion with the supervisor before any decision on awarding the scholarship is made.

Before applying, applicants are encouraged to contact Dr Daniel Mulvihill ( and submit a CV and cover letter. Academic subject and project results in undergraduate or master’s degrees must be clear.

Closing date: 31/12/2016, in first instance.

Start date: negotiable

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