Applications for projects 3 and 12 re-opened

The research and training activities of SOLUTION will involve 14 individual research projects.
For each individual project an ESR will be hired for 3 (three) years by one of the host institutions and enrolled in a PhD program.

Eligibility Criteria

Given that the positions are funded by the European Commission on a H2020-MSCA-ITN,
eligibility restrictions apply:

  • Experience: Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) shall, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree. Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree which would formally entitle him or her to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited.

  • Mobility Rule: at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.
  • Each ESR will be supported by the project for a maximum of 36 months.

  • All ESRs will take part in a secondment to another project partner for up to 30% of their appointment period (see below).

  • Mobility Allowances and Family Allowances (dependant on family circumstances) are payable to ESRs.


At least two secondments of 2 months each to the collaborating partners will be organised during the project.

As job descriptions cannot be exhaustive, the post-holder may be required to undertake other duties which are broadly in line with the above duties responsibilities.

We offer:

  • A 3-year EU-funded inter-disciplinary position which is available in one of the partners institute.
  • Salary: This position is funded by a Marie Curie Initial Training Network initiative. Salary includes a living allowance, adjusted for location and a € 600 mobility allowance. An additional € 500 family allowance may be payable depending on circumstances.

The successful candidates will benefit from a wide-ranging training programme featuring local, network-wide, and external activities with many opportunities for travel to the other European partners in the network. In addition to top-level specific scientific training in the disciplines, techniques and topics investigated at each node, such programme will include (but is not limited to) attendance to international schools, exchanges and secondments to other nodes, specific training on transferable skills, and in particular courses on scientific communication (e.g. scientific writing for publications, and presentation skills) and specific training on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.


1.) Phase and charging behaviour of complex 2D materials from first principles
(ESR and PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

Truly predictive models of the thermodynamic and charging behaviour of complex 2D materials will be derived from first principles utilising state-of-the-art Density Functional Theory linked with advanced Monte Carlo methods. The aim is to quantify miscibility of multiple transition metals in layered 2D materials and build phase diagrams for these materials informing a wider synthesis effort. Furthermore, electronic and vibrational properties will be investigated as a function of 2D materials composition to rationalise tribo-charging phenomena and develop a materials design toolbox for nano generators.

2.) Stochastic aspects of thermodynamic irreversibility in nanoscale friction
(ESR and PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

This PhD project will apply the concepts of modern stochastic thermodynamics to develop a consistent mesoscopic-level irreversible thermodynamics of the heat dissipation processes occurring during friction. The entire framework will incorporate thermal fluctuations, various aspects of complexity of structural and surface disorder, and include arbitrary external force protocols including directional or cyclic forces.

3.) Frictional properties of 2D materials
(ESR and PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD) will be prepared by CVD method and their nanoscale friction properties investigated by AFM. 2D layers (single or multilayer) deposited on atomically flat substrates and AFM tips will allow complex mapping of frictional properties of TMD and will provide experimental guideline to optimise TMD design to achieve minimum friction.

4.) Development of novel solid lubricants in industrial conditions
(ESR at IREIS, PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

The fellow will up-scale magnetron sputtering of novel solid lubricant coatings from laboratory to fully industrial scale. The coatings will then be thoroughly tested in selected industrial applications. To understand friction and wear mechanisms, the coatings will be intensively characterised in relation to their chemical composition, nanostructure and mechanical properties. In particular, the surfaces subjected to wear processes will be evaluated in detail by advanced nanoscale characterisation techniques such as Raman spectroscopy and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.

5.) Large scale MD simulations of MoS2
(ESR and PhD at University of Burgos, Spain)

The project will develop advanced MD methodologies to study the friction phenomena at the nanoscale, in particular to understand the mechanisms of the low friction exhibited by TMD and extract complex molecular information about solid lubricant tribolayer formation. The project is linked to the macroscopic properties identified in industrial solid lubricants and the atomic behaviour predicted by ab-initio calculations.

6.) Nanosafety of 2D TMD related particles
(ESR and PhD at University of Burgos, Spain)

This project will evaluate and quantify the possible health risks of 2D TMD particles. Our training and research approach will follow a specific set of analyses following standardised tests (EN12457), OECD/REACH tests (i.e. OECD TG 480, 481, 476), tests commonly followed in the literature (i.e. Membrane integrity, cell viability, cell mortality or apoptosis …). A specially designed battery of tests combining biophysical (AFM-Raman/TERS, HR-TEM, AFM, Nano-DSC…) and genomics assays will provide a clear knowledge of the 2D nanostructure-membrane interactions, correlated with long-term prediction of genetic/genotoxicity safety.

7.) Tribological properties of novel TMD-based coatings
(ESR at IPN, Portugal; PhD from University of Coimbra, Portugal)

The fellow will explore tribological properties of coatings deposited by partners in the project. The testing will consist of two parts – fundamental assessment of tribological properties including detail surface analysis of worn surfaces, and then tribological testing at conditions close to expected industrial applications. To identify wear processes, the fellow will use nanoscale techniques such as AFM, nanoindentation, SEM/EDX, Raman and TEM.

8.) Up-scale of magnetron sputtering deposition processes for TMD-based solid lubricant coatings
(ESR at IPN, Portugal; PhD from University of Coimbra, Portugal)

The core objective is to up-scale the deposition process from laboratory chamber to larger industrial-size equipment and optimise the deposition process in order to match coating requirements in terms of density, chemical composition, structure and mechano-tribological properties. The work will encompass a wide range of techniques to describe the deposition process and, in particular, deposited coatings, such as electron microscopy, XRD, XPS, AFM, nanoindentation and related techniques.

9.) Solid lubricants for aerospace applications
(ESR at Jihlavan, Czech Republic; PhD from University of Southampton)

Novel solid lubricant coatings will be applied to selected parts from aerospace industry (namely electromechanical actuators for flight control) and tested in near-industrial conditions. The main objective is to validate the applicability of the new class of solid lubricants for aerospace industry, optimise testing procedures and contribute towards standards in the field.

10.) Ab initio study of the role of structural dynamics on heat diffusion, energy dissipation and layer exfoliation
(ESR and PhD at Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic)

Lattice dynamics determine energy transfer across any material and determine its response to external stimuli. By studying which are the electro-structural features that govern such transfer, the fellow will explore the control of heat diffusion, energy dissipation and layer exfoliation of self-lubricant TMDs, and ultimately design new tribological TMD-based materials.

11.) Dynamical simulation of solid lubricants during sliding
(ESR and PhD at Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic)

The PhD project is aimed at studying the frictional properties of (novel) materials, with particular regard to TMD-based solid lubricants. Dynamical simulations of systems under sliding conditions will be performed in order to understand the contribution of structural and chemical features to the overall tribological performance of the material. Strong collaborations with the experimental branches of the network are expected; mutual feedbacks will expedite the ultimate goal of designing next-generation TMD-based lubricants.

12.) Solid lubricant coatings for gas seals
(ESR at John Crane, UK; PhD from University of Southampton, UK)

The fellow will prepare and validate a methodology to evaluate functional properties of gas seals coated by the partners of the project (both in laboratory and industrial size chambers). The gas seals will be tested in a custom-made tribometer available in JC, which is fully industrial (i.e. higher temperature, pressure 200 bar, specific gases), The properties of novel solid lubricant coatings will be benchmarked against present surface engineering solutions. Specific coating analysis, such as wear track composition and tribo-induced structural changes, will be carried out both in JC and in laboratories of the partners.

13.) Development of pulse plated electrolytic composite solid lubricant coatings
(ESR at Artia, Greece; PhD from University of Patras, Greece)

The main objective will be to investigate formulations of electrolytes and the proper conditions of pulse plating regime (e.g. pulse type, pulse frequency and duty cycle) for Ni (e.g. Ni-P) matrix composite coatings electrodeposition in order to produce functional coatings. TMDs that provide self-lubricant properties to coatings and significantly lower the friction coefficient will be used as reinforcement. The incorporation of nano- and micro-particles such as MoS2, MoSe2 or WS2 in the matrix will be examined in terms of increased co-deposition rates and optimum mechanical (hardness, wear resistance, minimum wear) and chemical (corrosion) properties. The target is to determine the appropriate deposition conditions (including particle type) that will provide coatings with specific properties, satisfying the requirements set by the end-users.

14.) Synthesis and advanced characterization of novel solid lubricant coatings based on transition metal dichalcogenides
(ESR at FORTH, Greece; PhD from University of Patras, Greece)

The central aim of this PhD thesis is to explore novel solid lubricant materials based on layered crystals such as transition metal dichalcogenides, which will outperform current commercially available solutions. The project comprises a hierarchical approach. Materials synthesis will mainly take place via high-temperature thermal evaporation techniques such as physical and chemical vapor deposition (PVD, CVD) onto various substrates. Emphasis on materials synthesis will be placed on (i) the control of the number of layers, (ii) the doping (substitution) of the transition metal with other atoms creating structures with different lattice dynamics, (iii) the synthesis of vertically stacked heterostructures of various TMDs, (iv) the growth of mixed transition metal and/or mixed chalcogen crystals. Advanced physicochemical characterisation will take place with electron microscopies (SEM, TEM), optical spectroscopies (Raman and Photoluminescence spectroscopy), and surface sensitive techniques (XPS/UPS). Tribological characterisation will be performed at the nanoscale using Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM) for lateral force measurements (LFM).