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Understanding of the Rehbinder effect across length scales

School of Engineering

About the Project

Rehbinder in 1928 reported that when a wetted surface is brought into contact with a metallic surface, it results in reduction of surface energy and hence diminishing strength of the material (doi:10.1038/1641127a0). The theory in its native form has implications on many fields including machining, tribology (biomedical implants remain in contact with body fluid), imaging (ultra-sound imaging) and many more including turbine blades where a metallic part comes undergoes several wetting cycles. Rehbinder effect in essence, may result in elastic strain, defect formation, plastic failure, defect formation, diffusion and heat and mass transport – all of which would have implications on the tribological performance of many mating engineering components. It is likely that the Rehbinder effect will have a large implication on the coefficient of friction in a broader sense which would have deep effects across a more-wider range of scientific problems. However, it is not clear from the literature as to what role does effects like change in length (length scale) roughness, microstrength of the surface etc plays in influencing the Rehbinder effect.

The ultimate aim of this project is to deepen the current understanding on Rehbinder effect using numerical modelling (Multiscale modelling using FEA and molecular dynamics) and experimental approaches (nanoindentation and single point diamond turning). This will be accomplished by developing a simple fundamental model of nano and micro scratch tests in presence of liquid media. An understanding of Rehbinder will help augment measures necessary to overcome the strength degradation of metals as was earlier reported by Rehbinder.

On this project, the student will have a unique opportunity to gain familiarity UK’s national High performance computing platform like “ARCHER” and will work with a team of scientists at multiple research labs of global standards. The project will take advantage of the software such as “LAMMPS”, “Abaqus” and LIGGGHTS”. Also, the project will largely also be benefitted by experiments performed at LSBU on a Nanoindentation device and that of Single point diamond machining experiments performed in the UK and in India thus bringing lot of travelling opportunities for the interested people. The project will involve several key EU wide companies such as Airbus, Rolls Royce, M-Solv, PVATepla, Stryker to name a few.

Supervisory Team:

The successful applicant will be working Dr Saurav Goel who beside LSBU, also works for Cranfield University and University of Cambridge. He manages two Centres of excellence namely, “Centre for Doctoral Training in Ultra-Precision Engineering” and “Networkplus in Digitalised Surface Manufacturing”. As part of this project, you will be benefitted by a wide range of training tools. Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Saurav Goel (). As a PhD student, you will join the London Centre of Energy Engineering and work alongside a range of new and experienced PhD students in a collaborative environment.


Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit and should have (or be expected to gain) either a first class or an upper second class Honours degree (or the international equivalent), or an MSc/MRes with distinction. Enthusiastic and self-motivated candidates from all countries with a background in either Engineering, Physics or Mathematics or a related discipline are encouraged to apply. Candidates should be able to demonstrate that they are highly motivated, have excellent communication skills and undertake challenging tasks using their own initiative. They should have willingness to go beyond what’s just stated.

The School of Engineering at London South Bank University is an ambitious and progressive centre of research strength, ranked 25th nationally for research power in the last Research Excellence Framework. We have a fabulous central London location and are looking for talented potential students interested in research to work with our academic faculty in areas of strength. We are offering a number of funded PhD scholarships below. These studentships are available to UK nationals & EU citizen’s and overseas applicants*. Those in possession of their own funding (e.g. via a non-EU government scholarship) are also welcome to apply for a place of study.

Further details on each PhD project as well as application information are provided via this link ( but the PhD scholarship benefits from the following:
• Training in advanced engineering topics
• Mentoring from industry on the application and context of research
• Bespoke technical training
• Enterprise and innovation skills training
• Transferable skills development opportunities to increase employability
• 3-year studentships of ~£15,000 per annum living stipend (tax free)
• Payment of all tuition fees*
• A school supported consumables and travel budget to support additional specialist research training courses, access to specialist equipment and travel to international conferences, seminars and workshops
• Industry sponsored* cutting-edge research projects
• Wide choice of PhD projects ranging from applied to blue-sky research
• State-of-the-art research facilities in the centre of London
• Opportunities for overseas secondments to industrial partners and universities
• Excellent career prospects on completion of the PhD
* for eligible students only

LSBU Research Centres Website:, please click on the link here ( to see the specific PhD posts available.

Closing date for applications: 15th of July 2020
PhD Start: 1st October 2020

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