PhD Position in Mechanisms of Icing on Cold Solid Surfaces

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Materials Engineering

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. 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.


A 36-month doctoral position as an early-stage researcher (ESR) focused on the modelling of ice nucleation is proposed within the framework of a 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 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 KULeuven ( The 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 TUDarmstadt (prof. Ilia Roisman).

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.


  • Candidates should have recently obtained a Master’s degree in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or Materials Engineering with outstanding grades.
  • Candidates should have a 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.
  • Candidates have to be hard working, enthusiastic and intelligent with a strong interest in understanding the fundamentals of materials behavior, as well as its implications for engineering applications. 
  • You have a talent for conceiving modelling hypothesis and can realize them in a target-oriented manner.
  • You must have less than 4 years of research experience, i.e., you should be an early-stage researcher.
  • You must not have resided or carried out your main activity in the country of the hiring organization for more than 12 months during the last 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment (short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account).


This position offers a PhD of KU Leuven, and international environment, guidance by leading scientists and competitive fellowship,social security, and other benefits. The successful candidate will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Early Stage Researchers, includes living allowances, mobility allowance and family allowance if eligible under the MSCA ITN rules.


For more information please contact prof. dr. ir. David Seveno, tel.: +32 16 32 12 58, mail:

Applications will be evaluated against the following criteria: 
1. Educational record 
2. Scientific quality of the applicant’s CV 
3. Expected impact and benefit to the fellow and to the project 
4. Previous experiences in the area of the SURFICE research programme 
5. Understanding of the research theme, critical analysis and result-reporting abilities
6. Teamwork, public awareness activities and mobility experiences
Applications must contain: 
• An up-to-date CV, detailing work experience and research and academic achievements
• A cover letter exposing the candidate motivation for the fellowship 
• At least two reference letters from a (former) supervisor, professor or a manager with contact information.
• Scanned copy of the degree (usually the master’s degree) which would formally entitle the candidate to embark on a doctorate. If the degree has not been obtained yet, the applicant will have to ensure that the date of graduation will be earlier than the start date of the ESR contract. 
• Transcript of records (applicant’s ranking and marks) for both Bachelor degree and Master degree. In case the applicant has not obtained their Master degree yet, a copy of the most up to-date Master grades should be provided 
• a copy of an identity document.
An English language certificate is desirable.
Any document not originally in English must be provided together with an English translation
You can apply for this job no later than March 31, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: March 31, 2021
  • Tags: Materiaalkunde