PhD student on the physics of adhesion to wet and icy surfaces: The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has a vacancy for a PhD-student on “The physics of adhesion to wet and icy surfaces” in the research group “Mesoscopic Transport Phenomena” of the Department of Applied Physics.

Departments: Department of Applied Physics
 Reference number: V34.2361

Job description

It is well known that gecko lizards can walk upside down on a ceiling. An elegant way of catching them is to spray them and the ceiling with water, which significantly reduces the effective adhesive forces. While this may be an elegant solution for zoologists, it provides a problem in a different context: conventional adhesive labels hardly stick on wet or icy surfaces. This is mainly because of two reasons: 1) the presence of water reduces the Van der Waals interaction between the adhesive and the target surface by approximately a factor of 10 and 2) water is effectively incompressible and prevents the surfaces to get in contact with each other. Existing commercial strategies for applying adhesive labels on moist targets focus on the removal of the water by means of porous layers or by means of hydrophilic, water-soluble additives that absorb the water. However, no commercial solution is available/known for improving adhesion on ice-covered objects, such as bloodbags and frozen goods removed from a refrigerator.

Due to the complexity of the problem, no quantitative physical models for optimizing adhesion to wet and icy surfaces have been developed, yet, and detailed understanding of the microscopic processes and underlying mechanisms remains elusive. For this reason, we propose to conduct a systematic and quantitative investigation, based on experiments and numerical simulations, of the use of micropatterned adhesive layers, which comprise a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) with a low glass-transition temperature as well as hydrogels. The latter represent a well-studied and mature material system, that can absorb multiples of their dry volume of water and for which material properties can be adjusted predictably over a large range by varying the polymeric constituents and the cross-link density. For proper adhesion, the water/ice layer needs to be thinned far below 10 nm, which renders this project a true nanofluidic and multidisciplinary challenge.

Job requirements

Candidates with a background in physics, chemical or mechanical engineering or physical chemistry are encouraged to apply. The position is part of the Horizon-2020 Marie Sk³odowska-Curie Initial Training Network BioSmart Trainee (full title: Training in Bio-Inspired Design of Smart Adhesive Materials) and is open to candidates who have obtained their MSc degree no more than 4 years ago and who did not reside within the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the past 3 years. Applicants must not hold a PhD degree.

Conditions of employment

This position offers full-time employment for 4 years, with an initial evaluation period. Remuneration and allowances for the candidate are in accordance with the regulations of the Horizon 2020 Marie Sk³odowska-Curie Actions. The monthly (gross) salary will be € 2125 in the first year and increase to € 2717 Euro in the fourth year in line with the Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities. An attractive package of fringe benefits include end-of-year and family allowances, a personal development programme for PhD students and excellent sports facilities.

Information and application

For more detailed information about the position, please contact Prof. Anton A. Darhuber (

If you are interested in this position, please send us your application (including the contact information of the candidate, a CV, copies of transcripts/grade-sheets, the contact information of one or more references, as well as a copy of the Master’s thesis and (p)reprints of prior publications, if available) before October 15, 2015 by using the ‘Apply now’-button on this page.

Deadline: 14/10/2015

Apply now