PhD Studentship in Modelling Dynamic Friction for Predicting Vehicle Brake Squeal

University of Cambridge - Department of Engineering

The presence of frictional interfaces in mechanical systems is one of the key limiting factors in modelling structural dynamics. It is possible to develop an advanced numerical model of structures with arbitrarily complicated geometry and material properties, but introduce a friction interface and prediction accuracy drops off rapidly. Sometimes friction is the source of vibration, for example in vehicle brake squeal or stringed musical instruments, and in these cases a good representation of friction is essential.

The aims of this project are to develop experimental testing capabilities for measuring the behaviour of frictional contacts that are valid at high frequencies; to derive new constitutive laws that can be experimentally validated; and to apply these laws to the problem of predicting vehicle brake squeal. This work builds on an experimental test rig that has been developed at the Engineering Department that has had a great deal of initial success towards understanding friction dynamics. This project will extend the capabilities of this experimental test rig and investigate new constitutive laws that can be experimentally validated.

The project includes experimental, numerical and theoretical components which will allow considerable flexibility in the approach, while maintaining industrial relevance.

For further information contact Dr Tore Butlin (

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree (and preferably a Masters degree) in an Engineering or a related subject, with a good knowledge or experience of dynamics and vibration.

This EPSRC funded studentship is available for Home and EU students. Home students and certain EU students will receive a full studentship including fees and Maintenance. EU students will receive a fees only award.  Details on eligibility can be found of EPSRC Website:

Overseas students are not eligible and should not apply.

Applications should be made on-line via the Cambridge Graduate Admissions Office before the deadline: with Dr Tor Butlin identified and the potential supervisor

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

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South East England