PhD student "Failure mechanisms in electromagnetic actuators"

Eindhoven University of Technology
November 01, 2023
Offerd Salary:€2,770
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD student "Failure mechanisms in electromagnetic actuators"



Irène Curie Fellowship



Mechanical Engineering



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Job description

The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has the following vacancy PhD student " Failure mechanisms in electromagnetic actuators" in the section Mechanics of Materials, Department of Mechanical Engineering

The PhD student position is available in the section Mechanics of Materials and will be supervised by Dr. Hans van Dommelen and Prof. Marc Geers.

Section description

The research activities of the section Mechanics of Materials concentrate on the fundamental understanding of various macroscopic problems in materials processing, forming and application, which emerge from the physics and the mechanics of the underlying material microstructure. The main challenge is the accurate prediction of mechanical properties of materials with complex microstructures, with a direct focus on industrial needs. The thorough understanding and modelling of ‘unit' processes that can be identified in the complex evolving microstructure is thereby a key issue. The section has a unique research infrastructure, both from an experimental and computational perspective.

Reliability of electromagnetic actuators

Challenges in integration, miniaturization, and operability in various industrial applications (robotics, pharmaceutics, microelectronics, lithography, etc.) require high-precision motion systems. In the semiconductor lithography industry, it is predicted that throughput of high- precision motion systems will strongly increase while decreasing the positioning error. To achieve this, it is required to increase the velocity and the acceleration, which will require higher forces and torques. This necessitates extremely high coil currents and water-cooling flow rates and may lead to accelerated failure of the actuators. The mechanisms of failure due to thermo-electrostatic loads and the role of the microstructure of the potting material/coil complex are currently not well understood, which hampers the development of electromagnetic actuators with an economically viable and reliable lifetime. Therefore, there is a stringent need for a fundamental and conclusive understanding of failure processes in actuators and physical interactions affecting actuator subcomponents.

Aim of the PhD project

Actively cooled electromagnetic actuators are prone to failure by delamination of interfaces between the coils and the polymer-based potting material, which serves both for heat conduction and mechanical integrity of the actuator. The objective of this project is to develop a fundamental, qualitative, and quantitative understanding of the mechanisms that lead to failure of these systems and in particular the role of the microstructure at various length scales and its interaction with the electrostatic actuation and thermal load cycles. A combined experimental and multi-scale modelling approach will be adopted that accounts for the two-way interaction between the microstructure and the applied multi-physical loads resulting from the electromagnetic actuation.

The actuator material's microstructure and the occurring failure mechanisms are experimentally characterized using a multitude of microscopic techniques. A representative multi-physical model of the heterogeneous potting materials is developed to investigate failure processes under combined thermal and homogeneous electrostatic loads. Using the modelling framework developed for realistic actuator stacks, strategies for improvement of reliability and lifetime of actuators are determined.

Job requirements

Qualification of applicant

Talented, enthusiastic candidates with excellent analytical and communication skills holding a university degree (MSc, with high grades) in Mechanical Engineering, Computational Mechanics or Applied Mathematics are encouraged to apply. A background and strong interest in mechanics of materials is required. Experience in multi-scale modelling and micromechanics, and experimental mechanics is of benefit.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale 27 (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self- aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.
  • Information and application

    About us

    Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands- on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.

    More information

    Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact the hiring manager dr. Hans van Dommelen (

    Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact HR Services Gemini at

    Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


    Application documents (in PDF format) must contain: letter of motivation, detailed curriculum vitae including photograph, transcripts of BSc and MSc degrees (with grades), and contact information of two potential referees.


    The vacancy is open until a suitable candidate has been found.

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