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PhD Studentship in Tribology: developing acoustic emission (AE) sensing techniques to monitor and improve the performance of lubricated, machine contacts

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a research studentship in the field of Tribology, leading to the award of a PhD degree. The studentship is for three and a half years starting summer/autumn 2020. The post is supported by both the EPSRC and Shell Lubricants.

The PhD project will develop acoustic emission (AE) sensing techniques to monitor and improve the performance of lubricated, machine contacts. AE sensors detect stress waves that are generated by microscopic events at the interface between sliding components and propagate through material. Since these deformations result from surface contact interactions and damage, the waves provide a means of listening in on the frictional mechanisms that are occurring. This provides an important, and currently underutilised, means of assessing both the condition of the lubricating fluid and the energy efficiency of the machine.

The project will use friction/acoustic experiments (lab-based tests simulating sliding machine interfaces), signal processing (including frequency based techniques and machine learning) and modelling to understanding the underlying mechanisms associated with frictional sound generation. The understanding gained will then be applied to monitor lubricated engine components, first in lab-based simulation tests and then on motored and fully fired engines. This will involve working closely with, and travel to, a number of industrial sponsors and academic collaborators.

The PhD will be based in the Tribology Group at Imperial College London. This is one of the largest Tribology research groups in the world, with extensive experimental and numerical research facilities and an international reputation for research excellence. The Group includes several PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and academic staff, who perform both fundamental and applied research, and offers a vibrant and multicultural working environment.

The successful candidate will be enthusiastic and self-motivated and will meet the academic requirements for enrolment for the PhD degree at Imperial College London. They will have a background in Mechanical, Aeronautical or Chemical Engineering, Material Science, Physics, Chemistry or a related field together with a strong intellect and an enquiring approach to research. Experience of vibrations and signal processing would be advantageous. Excellent team-working, analytical and communication skills are also essential. Training will be given in tribology and investigative techniques tribological testing, advanced material characterisation, and surface topography measurements. The studentship will provide the opportunity to become a skilled communicator, comfortable in an international environment at a world-leading institution.

To find out more about research at Imperial College London in this area, go to:

For information on how to apply, go to:

For further details of the post contact Dr Tom Reddyhoff at or +44 (0)20 7594 3840. Interested applicants should send an up-to-date curriculum vitae to Dr Tom Reddyhoff on the above e-mail address citing “AE - Tribology PhD Studentship” in the email title. Suitable candidates will be required to complete an electronic application form at Imperial College London in order for their qualifications to be addressed by College Registry.

Funding Notes

The post is supported by a full bursary and fees (at the UK/EU student rate) provided by EPSRC and Shell (EPSRC industrial Cooperative Award in Science and Technology – iCASE). The position is open to UK and EU (ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three years period preceding the start of the studentship) students who fulfil the eligibility criteria for the award. Please check your suitability at the following web site:

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