PhD Studentship in Butterflies and White Etching Cracks in Bearing Steels

University of Southampton School of Engineering

PhD Studentship - Butterflies and White Etching Cracks in Bearing Steels

Mechanical Engineering

Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date: Monday 31 May 2021

Reference: 1347421DA

Supervisory Team: Prof. Ling Wang and Dr Terry Harvey

Project description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship working on the Butterflies and White Etching Cracks in Bearing Steels research project. The PhD student will join a world-leading research team based within the national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS) at the University of Southampton, a member of the Russell Group and ranked in the world’s top 100 Universities. nCATS is a multidisciplinary tribology centre, aspired to research and solve next-generation tribological design issues and enable surface interactions to occur with minimal energy loss and impact on the environment. Tribology is core to the future transport and energy-efficient machines.

Machinery world is moved by bearings, without which our mobility would be drastically reduced. Invented thousands of years ago, rolling element bearings have grown to be one of the most important and widely used engineering components driving the modern world. Despite their near perfect designs and highly reliable performance, new technologies such as large wind turbines and electrical vehicles, impose novel challenges in bearings. While butterflies in bearings as a result of material degradation over rolling contact fatigue are not considered as a ‘life-threatening’ microstructural alteration anymore, recent studies indicate they may be potentially linked to a ‘novel’ feature white etching cracks (WECs), which causes significant amount of early failures in wind turbine gearbox bearings and huge economic costs for renewable energy around the world. Working with one of the world’s leading bearing manufacturers, this research aims to find links between the two microstructure alterations in bearing steels and their influences on bearing life. Experimental work will be conducted in laboratories to create both butterflies and WECs and detailed metallographic and imaging analysis will be carried out to study their characteristics, formation mechanisms and drivers. This research will have significant impacts on many industries by advancing bearing technologies and on our society by providing solutions to future of mobility.

The funding available is competitive and will only be awarded to an outstanding applicant. As part of the selection process, the strength of the whole application is taken into account, including academic qualifications, personal statement, CV and references. Applicants should have a good first degree in mechanical engineering subject. Ideally the candidate should have some experience in engineering material and a strong interest in bearing tribology to apply. It is planned to start the project in 2021, preferably no later than October.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof. Ling Wang, nCATS Research Group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 5076.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: 31 May 2021.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £15,609 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2021/22, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Ling Wang

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: