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Funded PhD position; in Multi-Scale Modeling Of Fibrils, Surfaces, And Heat Transfer; at KTH Royal Institute of Technology; in Sweden

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has grown to become one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities, as well as a key centre of intellectual talent and innovation. We are Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution and home to students, researchers and faculty from around the world. Our research and education covers a wide area including natural sciences and all branches of engineering, as well as in architecture, industrial management, urban planning, history and philosophy.

INTERFACE is a newly established multidisciplinary research environment financed by the Swedish Research Council (VR) after a highly competitive selection process. This new effort is based on three existing excellent centers that have been working closely for the last 10 years; the Linné FLOW Centre,  SeRC (Swedish e-Science Research Centre) and WWSC (Wallenberg Wood Science Centre). The new environment will merge the competence of these three existing centers to allow us to tackle new demanding challenges.

Job description

The goal of INTERFACE is to create the next generation tools to model and understand complex multiscale transport phenomena occurring at fluid/solid interfaces, in microfibril suspensions and gels, predict properties of flows over hierarchical surfaces, and design nano-patterned coatings to maximize heat transfer, e.g. for boiling. We shall combine the competence in accurate high-performance computer simulations in both computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and molecular dynamics (MD) from SeRC with the theoretical knowledge and experimental analysis of fluid transport in FLOW, and the expertise in surface chemistry and material science at WWSC.

We are seeking 4 PhD students with the following responsibilities:

1 PhD student in Applied and Computational Mathematics with specialization in Numerical Analysis

The main overall challenge is to design novel biomaterials to replace steel, plastics, and other conventional materials, which will have a large impact on energy usage and sustainability. Cellulose nano-fibrils (CNF) constitute one example of raw material originating from trees. They have been used to create strong films and filaments as well as functional materials. However, in order to turn these scientific breakthroughs into industrially viable products, we need efficient processing and control of the properties of the final material, where the critical aspects originate from molecular interactions on the fibril surface that determine the aggregation at the meso-scale.

Your task will primarily be to develop efficient computational models and methods for interactions between fibrils at the mesoscale, based on methods already developed in our group. These will be used to study aggregation and self- organization of CNF in aqueous suspensions. Contact person: Anna-Karin Tornberg

1 PhD student in computational modeling of hierarchal surfaces for flow control:

The challenge is to design new multi-functional surface materials with appropriate features that are able to interact with an overlying flowing fluid in a favorable way, for example to reduce fluid friction, acoustic noise or to increase fluid mixing. Current flow control technologies are to a large extent based on intuition. Nature’s fluid flow control strategies are far more sophisticated; essentially all biological surfaces are to some extent made of porous deformable multi-scale structures. However, we lack a fundamental understanding of how the macroscopic overlying flow is altered by the underlying mesoscopic texture (e.g. filaments, roughness, patterns) and the microscopic molecular details of the texture.

Your task will be to start from an atomistic description, using molecular dynamics, to develop a continuum model of liquid/gas transitions at a surface with nano-scale roughness. These results will be used to develop boundary conditions for simulations of realistic, superhydrophobic materials. Contact person: Shervin Bagheri

2 PhD students in computer modeling of boiling heat transfer

Phase change is the most efficient way to increase heat transfer since latent heat is typically much larger than sensible heat. The challenge for increasing energy savings is to design surface patterns to control heat transfer in nucleate boiling. Boiling is inherently multi-scale in nature as it starts with bubble nucleation at scales down to nanometers, continues with bubble growth and detachment at the micrometer scale and induces flow instabilities up to centimeter scale.

Your task will be to develop computational models for the boiling process using either molecular dynamics for the nano-scale processes or computational fluid dynamics at the microscales. Contact person: Luca Brandt


We are looking for you who have an engineering or master’s degree with specialization in relevant subject area. Depending on the Ph.D. position in question, this could for example mean applied mathematics, mechanical engineering, physics or chemistry. It’s relevant to have a sound foundation in numerical analysis or numerical mathematics, physics, programming and having good academic results in particularly relevant topics for this project. Furthermore, you should able to communicate well verbally and in writing, in English.

It will be considered an advantage if you have additional knowledge in the relevant subject acquired through, for example, your thesis or course work at other universities.

As a person you are problem solving and self-motivated. You act with certainty despite limited knowledge and experience, and dare to try new ideas and go beyond your comfort zone. You will be part of a larger research group and you are expected to build contacts both within and outside your group so it is important that you are good at communicating and building relationships. We will place great emphasis on personal qualities.

Trade union representatives

You will find contact information to trade union representatives at KTH:s webbpage.


Log into KTH’s recruitment system in order to apply to this position. You are the main responsible to ensure that your application is complete according to the ad.

Your complete application must be received at KTH no later than the last day of application, midnight CET/CEST (Central European Time/Central European Summer Time).

The application must contain the following documents in PDF format:

  • Statement of professional interest
  • CV with at least 2 references
  • Transcripts from university/university college
  • Example of technical writing, e.g., thesis, essay, course report or scientific paper

The statement and CV should be marked with either “PhD in Applied and Computational Mathematics”, “PhD in hierarchal surfaces for flow control” or “PhD in boiling heat transfer”.


We firmly decline all contact with staffing and recruitment agencies and job ad salespersons.

Disclaimer: In case of discrepancy between the Swedish original and the English translation of the job announcement, the Swedish version takes precedence.

Type of employment: Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type: Full time
First day of employment: January 2018
Salary: Monthly salary according to KTH’s Ph.D. student salary agreement
Number of positions: 4
Working hours: 100%
City: Stockholm
County: Stockholms län
Country: Sweden
Reference number: S-2017-1536

Anna-Karin Tornberg, Professor, +46 8 790 62 66,

Luca Brandt, Professor, +46 8 790 68 70,

Tim Knutsson, Recruitment consultant, +46 736 44 41 20,

Shervin Bagheri, Ass.professor, +46 8 790 67 70,

Deadline: October 11, 2017.

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