ESR 11: Design of discontinuous coatings with enhanced de-icing properties

KU Leuven, Leuven (Belgium)

Supervisor: David Seveno

Doctoral position

We are looking for a young graduate with a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or Materials Engineering with outstanding grades, with experience in designing experimental set-ups, surface science, wetting, icing, for a 36-month doctoral position in the area of icephobic surfaces.
The candidate will participate as an early-stage researcher (ESR) to the Marie Skłodowska – Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) project: “Smart surface design for efficient ice protection and control” (SURFICE), a project under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
The project will be carried out at KU Leuven (Belgium), under scientific supervision of prof. David Seveno, secondments of 3-6 month at different MSCA-ITN partner institutions will be part of the project.
The ESR will be affiliated as doctoral Student of the KU Leuven, from which she/he shall obtain a PhD degree in Materials Engineering.

Job Description

The project will focus on the design of discontinuous coatings, i.e. not uniformly covering the underneath surface, to facilitate de-icing. You will work at the Department of Materials Engineering of the KU Leuven ( The Department is responsible for education, research and service to industry and society related to materials science and engineering. Both, the university KU Leuven and the Department of Materials Engineering are world-wide strongly positioned in the important rankings related to research, innovation and education.
You project will be structured in the following phases:
• design and setup of an experimental strategy to combine inkjet printing of heat conductive inks and local contrast in temperature, roughness, wettability, and elasticity.
• Identification of a link between the physical chemistry properties of the discontinuous coatings and the enhanced de-icing properties.
• Conceptualization of the experimental results into a theoretical framework transferable to various surfaces.
• Cross-correlations with outputs from: (i) iCVD polymer coatings, developed at TU Graz in the group of prof. Anna-Maria Coclite, (ii) soft polymer coatings, developed at University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy), in the group of prof. Carlo Antonini; and (iii) polymer coatings developed at TU Delft in the group of prof. Santiago J. Garcia.
• Completed validation of the theoretical framework.
Based on the proposal, three secondments at SUSOS (CH), 2 months, at University of Milano-Bicocca (IT), 2 month, and FFT (UK), 1 month are planned during the PhD programme. These may be modified if more relevant/productive secondments become available as the work of the ESR and the SURFICE network evolves.

Your profile

• Candidates should have recently obtained a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or Materials Engineering with outstanding grades.
• Strong experimental and theoretical background in at least one of the following topics: coatings, surface science, wetting, icing, anti-icing technologies, and adhesion.
• Desirable: programming experience e.g. Python, Matlab, or other coding languages.
• Language skills: ENGLISH: Excellent; DUTCH: of advantage for the interaction within the University, however not required.
• You have a talent for conceiving advanced experimental set-ups and can realize them in a target-oriented manner.

Institution address

Department of Materials Engineering (MTM) –  Kasteelpark Arenberg 44/bus 2450, 3001 Leuven (Belgium)

Important dates

Expected starting of the working contract: 01.09.2021 or by agreement.

We look forward to receiving your application until 31st July 2021. In case no suitable candidates are found, KU Leuven reserves the right to re-open the call.

Application process

Applications must be submitted in English by using the KU Leuven online application form

For questions and further information on the position, please contact prof. David Seveno at