ESR 8: The mechanisms of icing on a cold solid surface

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, Engineering or Materials Science, with experience in nanoscale modelling (molecular dynamics), 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 modelling of wetting at the nanoscale using molecular dynamics simulations accounting for the heterogeneous nucleation of ice leading to freezing. 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 simulations modelling spontaneous spreading and forced wetting in icing conditions.
  • Identification of key descriptors characterizing the nucleation of ice at the nanoscale.
  • Conceptualization of the simulation results into a theoretical framework transferable to large scale models.
  • cross-correlations with outputs from: (i) wetting/icing experiments, performed at University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy), in the group of prof. Carlo Antonini; and (ii) other ice adhesion tests performed at TU Darmstadt (prof. Ilia Roisman).
  • validation of physical and numerical models completed.

Based on the proposal, three secondments at UCL (UK), 2 months, ACRT (GE), 1 month, and OPT (BE), 3 months 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 in Physics, Engineering or Materials Science with outstanding grades.
  • Strong modelling and theoretical background in at least one of the following topics: molecular dynamics, surface science, wetting, icing, anti-icing technologies, and adhesion.
  • Desirable: programming experience (Python, Matlab, C++, 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 modelling hypothesis 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: 01.06.2021 or by agreement. We look forward to receiving your application until 31st March 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