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Measuring Viscosity and Oil Film Thickness In-Situ in Tribo-Systems

Department of Mechanical Engineering

About the Project

We have a vacancy for an enthusiastic and self-motivated PhD student for a joint PhD project between the Leonardo Centre for Tribology at the University of Sheffield and AC2T in Austria.

About the Project

All machines require lubrication to function properly. The thickness and of the oil film that forms in machines like auto-engines, wind turbine transmissions, marine engine propellers, or aero gas turbine bearings are critical to their operation. These oil films are very thin and under conditions of high pressure, temperature, and rate of shearing. The way the oil behaves under these conditions is difficult to predict and we need measurement methods to determine how they perform. This project is about using ultrasound to measure lubricant behaviour in-situ on real machine element contacts.

You will be developing sensors that can be used on test rigs to understand the fundamentals of lubricant behaviour under high pressure and shear, and also as condition monitoring devices to monitor components in the field. The group has a lot of experience working with ultrasound and machine elements and you will be well supported and guided.

You will be developing measurement methods in the Leonardo lab and then implementing these on test machines at AC2T. You will spend most of your time at Sheffield, with frequent meetings and occasional visits to Ac2T. In addition, you will spend a period of 6 – 9 months in Austria at AC2T where you will apply some of your research methods on the tools and equipment at AC2T.

About the Centres

The Leonardo Centre is based in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. It is one of the leading tribology groups in the UK with 6 academic staff and over 50 PhD students. The Centre covers a wide range of fundamental and applied research and as a large group of industrial funders and collaborators. You will be joining a team of helpful and social PhD students working in three well equipped labs.

The Austrian Competence Centre for Tribology, AC2T is Austria’s leading centre of excellence in tribology and acts as an R&D service provider for industrial companies in fields such as smart materials, surfaces and coatings, lubricants and lubrication systems, high-resolution wear measurement systems, simulation and modelling of friction and wear processes.

For further information on the project itself please contact Prof Rob Dwyer-Joyce –

Funding Notes


• 1st or 2:1 degree in Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics or other Relevant Discipline.

• The PhD is funded at the standard EPSRC rate covering fees and bursary. Funding is only available to cover the level of fees set for UK applicants for 3.5 years. Applicants from non UK/EU will need to cover the extra fees form their own funds.

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