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Dewetting on Textured and Slippery Surfaces (RDF17/MPEE/MCHALE)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof G McHale
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The spreading of a liquid from a droplet into a film is important in many industries and is widely studied to understand the fundamentals of solid-liquid interactions and fluid mechanics. Recently, we have shown the reverse process of a film dewetting from a surface is not like a video in reverse (Science Advances, 2016). Often surfaces are rough or textured and this significantly alters how a liquid interacts and moves across the surface. Surface texture (ridges, grooves, regular dimples or protrusions, etc) has a major influence and can be used to control how a liquid behaves. A natural example is the Lotus leaf which uses waxy bumps to cause water to ball-up and roll-off. Another example is the Nepenthes Pitcher Plant which uses surface texture and an infusing lubricant to create super-slippery leaves, which cause insects to fall into a deep cavity where they are then digested. Our focus is on understanding the physics and materials science of natural systems and using bio-mimickery to create new surfaces with liquid shedding properties (

This project will design and fabricate micro-textured surfaces and self-healing lubricant impregnated surfaces. Films of liquids will be induced on these surfaces using electric fields. By switching off the electric field we will induce the films to de-wet from the surface and this will be studied using high speed video in the group’s Smart Materials and Surfaces Laboratory.

The successful candidate will work with Professor Glen McHale, Dr. Gary Wells, Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar and colleagues in the Department of Mathematics, Physics & Electrical Engineering. The research will also involve collaboration with colleagues at Durham University for the production of lithographically produced micro-structured surfaces.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required (evidence required by 1 August 2017).

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.
Deadline for applications: 20 January 2017
Start Date: 2 October 2017

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

This project is being considered for funding in competition with other projects, through one of two types of funding packages available:
• Fully funded studentships include a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates for 2017/18 (this is yet to be set, in 2016/17 this is £14,296 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,350 / International £13,000 / International Lab-based £16,000), and are available to applicants worldwide.
• As Northumbria celebrates its 25th anniversary as a University and in line with our international outlook, some projects may also be offered to students from outside of the EU supported by a half-fee reduction.


Edwards, A. M. J., et al. Not spreading in reverse: The dewetting of a liquid film into a single drop. Sci. Adv. 2, e1600183–e1600183 (2016).

Dodd, L. E. et al. Low Friction Droplet Transportation on a Substrate with a Selective Leidenfrost Effect. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 8, 22658–22663 (2016).

Guan, J. H. et al. Evaporation of Sessile Droplets on Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS). Langmuir 31, 11781–11789 (2015).

Brabcova, Z. et al. Near Axisymmetric Partial Wetting Using Interface-Localized Liquid Dielectrophoresis. Langmuir 32, 10844–10850 (2016).

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