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Development of Micro/Nanofabricated Anti-icing Surfaces

Department of Physics

Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A PhD position is available in the experimental development of anti-icing surfaces. This position will be hosted by The University of Otago's Department of Physics and will be carried out in Prof. Blaikie's Sub-Wavelength Optics research group. The project is aimed at developing hierarchical micro/nanostructures that control microfluidic mechanisms in the ice-formation regime and promote anti-icing. The project will be funded through New Zealand's
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The Project

Superhydrophobic (strong-water-repellence) coatings have been extensively studied over the past few years as a potential means for anti-icing on wind turbine blades and heat exchangers. While these surfaces have demonstrated long ice -formation delays, hydrophobicity alone has been shown to be insufficient in preventing ice-formation.
To promote its engineering applications, this project will investigate novel superhydrophobic lensing surfaces that promote continuous surface rejuvenation by combining droplet mechanisms such as spontaneous droplet sweeping and coalescence induced jumping droplets. These mechanisms will be enhanced by developing hierarchical superhydrophobic surfaces consisting of nanoscale features superimposed on a microscale hydrophobic gradient that will aid in droplet nucleation and subsequent transport to desired locations. Enhancing these mechanisms will provide continuous surface rejuvenation, potentially eliminating the liquid-solid (water-to-ice) phase transition, rather than just delaying icing onset on these novel surface structures. These structures will be tested under conditions of ice-nucleation.
The PhD project will focus on the development of hierarchical micro/nanoscale patterned surfaces and subsequently study these surfaces under condensation icing conditions. The overall aim is to establish how these surfaces control microfluidic phenomena at the condensation/ice-formation interface. The results may lead to topographic surfaces that delay or completely eliminate ice-formation for increased energy efficiency in applications such as refrigeration and wind turbine technologies.

The Candidate

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve at least honours or equivalent for undergraduate degree in Physics or Engineering. They will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good computational skills, ability to think analytically and creatively. Good presentation and writing skills in English are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.

Application Procedure

Please send a CV (including a list of courses taken (and marks obtained) and cover letter to Dr Sam Lowrey ().

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