PhD Studentship  in Experimental Determination of the Structure and Performance of Organic Friction Modifiers in Solution and in Tribo-contacts

University of Cambridge - Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Project Background:

Improvements in fuel economy are a major driver in the lubricants industry. Fuel economy shows an inverse relationship with friction and hence there have been a number of methods employed to reduce friction in engines such as the use of organic friction modifiers. The simplest and most widely employed method for reducing friction is through the use of lower viscosity grade oils. However, such a reduction in viscosity leads to insufficient wear protection in engines.

The overall aim of this collaborative project between Cambridge University and Infineum is to understand how friction modifiers function (in solution and at the solid/ liquid interface), and to link with simulation work being performed at Edinburgh University, in order to predict the effects of structural variants on the resultant friction and hence assist in optimising design.

The PhD will focus on using developing/ optimising a bespoke-built tribo-rig for in-situ neutron reflection studies of additive structure at the solid-liquid interface, with changes in load/ speed to produce the different tribological contacts encountered in engines. Experimental results obtained (for both organic friction modifiers and in combination with other additives) will provide a mechanistic understanding of the processes by which organic friction modifiers function both in solution and in forming films at the solid-liquid interface.

Candidate Info:

The successful candidate should have a demonstrated passion for science and for experimentation, as well as excellent communication skills and team spirit. Candidates should also have an excellent background in Engineering, Chemistry, Physics or Chemical Engineering and a strong interest in interdisciplinary research.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years.

This studentship is available for Home and EU students. Home and EU students will receive a full studentship including University and College fees as well as a maintenance stipend. Overseas students are not eligible and should not apply.

Applicants must have:

1.) A First Class degree in a relevant field or the equivalent from a non-UK university (If you hold a non-UK degree, please see: to determine if your final grade/mark will satisfy that requirement.)

2.) The standing needed to meet the graduate admissions entrance requirements of the University of Cambridge, as the successful candidate will be expected to formally apply:

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Alex Routh ( - before submitting the application.

To apply for this position, please email the following to Mr. Gediminas Verbauskas, Graduate Administrator, at by noon (UK time) on Tuesday 31 January 2017, as late applications will not be considered:

1.) Please ensure that you are eligible by visiting:

2.) Include the Vacancy Reference number NQ11101  in the subject line of your email.

3.) A copy of your CV.

4.) A copy of your transcripts and/or certificates from previous/current degree(s) that show the grades/marks received, as we will be unable to consider you for the studentship without the transcripts.

5.) The names of two people who can supply a reference

Please quote reference NQ11101 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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South East England