PhD position - Operando X-ray Imaging of Lubricant/Steel Boundary Layers

Context & Job description

Project Title: Greenhouse Gases from Friction Losses: Operando X-ray Imaging of Lubricant/Steel Boundary Layers

The aim of this PhD project is to study relevant structural dynamics and tribochemistry under the extreme conditions in reciprocating sliding contacts. This research is aligned with technology development for reducing friction losses in engines. Operando studies of interfacial tribochemistry and microstructure in sliding metal-metal contacts will be performed using sub-micron X-ray beams at ID31 with PDF, SAXS and XRD detection. Multiscale analysis determining molecular (PDF, XRD), mesoscopic (SAXS, high resolution imaging) and macroscopic (imaging, tomography) structure and composition will be performed. These results are then related to friction reduction under confinement, pressure and shear.

The student will receive a broad range of expert training opportunities and benefit from synergistic interactions in an interdisciplinary team of industry, central facility and academic researchers from 4 leading UK Universities.

Further information may be obtained from Veijo Honkimäki (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 88 27 25, email: and from Sven Schroeder (+44 (0)113 343 2410, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in physics, materials science, chemistry or closely related science
  • Manual skills and rigorous attention to detail are essential in this work environment
  • Proficiency in English (A proof of upper-intermediate level would be advantageous and can be provided in the application. Applicants originating from native-English-speaking countries can apply without the need for proof of level. An official degree conducted in English will be also accepted as a proof; Students without proof upper-intermediate level may still apply and their level of English will be checked during the interview).
  • Compliance with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie mobility rule: candidates may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than twelve months in the three years immediately before the date of recruitment.
  • At the date of recruitment, early-stage researchers must be in the first four years of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Candidates must satisfy eligibility criteria according to the partner university requirements for PhD enrolment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school of University of Leeds and based full-time at the ESRF (Grenoble, France), other than a 3-month secondment at Infineum International Ltd. Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to the University of Leeds when needed. Furthermore, a varied pedagogical training programme will be offered to the successful candidate throughout the 3-year PhD project.

More details on the InnovaXN programme on

Company description

InnovaXN is a Horizon 2020 MSCA COFUND programme providing an opportunity for 40 industrial companies to work with 40 PhD students, performing advanced research and exploiting the unique characterisation techniques of the ESRF and ILL. Through collaborations with industry, innovation will be the central theme of the programme. This will provide a unique cross academic-industry science setting, secondment opportunities and society-relevant research, training the future key researchers able to tackle major research and societal challenges.

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