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PhD Position in Materials Design for Low Friction Coatings

MN-16 PhD Position in Materials Design for Low Friction Coatings

Contract: Full Time/Fixed Term

The Materials Modelling for Devices Group at Tyndall National Institute has attracted significant funding through the Science Foundation Ireland AMBER Research Centre ( for a PhD project using state of the art first principles simulations and thin film atomic/molecular layer deposition (ALD/MLD) to develop new low friction coatings for use in computing peripherals. The project is supported by a leading international manufacturer of computing peripherals and significant interaction with this partner is a key element of the project, involving presentation of results, placements in their facility in Cork and characterisation & testing as appropriate.

The work requires a detailed theoretical understanding of the tribology (friction) properties of novel coatings, their processing & production and performance testing. The new coatings are supposed to replace currently used fluorinated polymers which will need to be phased out as a result of environmental & legislative requirements, their non-optimal performance and difficulties in their production. Training in experimental deposition of the new coatings using ALD/MLD at Tyndall will be provided in collaboration with relevant group members and Tyndall’s thin film deposition group. This is an exciting opportunity to build on the MMD Group’s recent work on developing MLD chemistries of polymer and hybrid materials using simulations and MLD processing, low friction materials and tribology modelling, while working directly with a leading company in this sector. We also aim to apply machine learning models to assist with the accelerated design of materials and process chemistries and thereby deliver a truly rapid and predictive materials and process design approach.

Key Responsibilities

  • To work under the supervision of the PhD supervisory team and Tyndall and the industry partner to ensure that the program of research is carried out
  • To plan, organise, conduct and communicate the research described in the project plan within the overall project scope and to fulfil the requirements of a PhD degree
  • Review state of the art literature on the project topic and suggest avenues for materials development
  • Build expertise in machine learning applied to materials and surface chemistries and use this in design of novel low friction materials and their processing.
  • To engage fully with the industry partner, including meetings, visits/placements at the partner site and identification of intellectual property
  • To keep robust records of project results and data and ensure the principles of research integrity and open science are at the heart of research
  • Engage in appropriate training and professional development opportunities as required by the Supervisory Team, Tyndall or UCC to fully develop research skills and competencies and wider generic skills.
  • To disseminate project outputs, through the preparation of manuscripts for peer reviewed publication and conferences.
  • Ensure all activities are compliant with the Tyndall Quality Management system and required Health & Safety standards.
  • Participate in Education and Public Engagement activities, as required.
  • Carry out any additional duties as may reasonably be required within the general scope and level of the PhD

Essential Criteria

  • Honours BSc or Master’s degree in chemistry/materials science/physics or equivalent
  • Good knowledge of computational/quantum chemistry and/or simulation of materials
  • Good knowledge of solid-state chemistry and/or physics
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a wider team
  • Ability to critically evaluate the obtained results and present to their peers.

Desirable Criteria

  • Previous use of computational chemistry simulation codes, e.g. VASP, quantum Espresso, Wien2K, DMol, TURBOMOLE, Gaussian, etc
  • Knowledge of surface chemistry and thin film processing

The fully-funded PhD position includes a stipend of €19,000/year for up to four years or graduation (whatever comes first) and full coverage of academic fees/tuition (approx. €5,700/year) in addition to extensive training opportunities, travel to project collaborators & conferences, and placements at the industry partner.

For further information, informal enquiries can be made in confidence to Dr Michael Nolan,

Application Instructions

Step 1 - Click here to download the Application form and indicate the Job Reference MN-16

Step 2 - Return the completed Application form, together with your CV and motivation letter to

Please ensure that your motivation letter, CV and application letter are submitted in pdf format.

Postgraduate applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of English language proficiency as per UCC regulations ( Certificates should be valid (usually less than 2 years old) and should be uploaded with their application. In special circumstances the panel may consider a prior degree in English (e.g. Master thesis written in English) as evidence of English language proficiency.

Please note that Garda vetting and/or an international police clearance check may form part of the selection process.

The University, at its discretion, may undertake to make an additional appointment(s) from this competition following the conclusion of the process.

Please note that an appointment to posts advertised will be dependent on University approval, together with the terms of the employment control framework for the higher education sector.

At this time, Tyndall National Institute does not require the assistance of recruitment agencies.

Tyndall National Institute at University College, Cork is an Equal Opportunities Employer.