PhD Position Collection Care

Research / Academic
The Chair of Applied Mechanics in the Department of the Built Environment

This vacancy is within the chair of Applied Mechanics of the department of the Built Environment. The chair is responsible for education and research in the field mechanics, and is working on multi-scale, multi-physics and optimization problems related to the built environment. The chair provides the mechanics courses in the Department of the Built Environment, and is a member of the Graduate School on Engineering Mechanics, Netherlands. This graduate school offers the PhD students an advanced training program in the field of Engineering Mechanics, of which the core is formed by a joint series of advanced graduate courses that are closely connected to state-of-the-art research themes.

Research Topic:

Paper and parchment exhibit significant deformations upon moisture content variations, involving dimensional changes at different length scales. These may be also accompanied by irreversible shrinkage and accelerated creep phenomena. Additionally, spontaneous chemical degradation of paper based materials may occur, due to oxidation processes taking place at the level of the crystalline structure and in the polymer chains of cellulose. These are crucial problems in the conservation of paper-based ancient documents.

The goal of this PhD project is to develop a multi-scale and multi-physics model to understand and predict paper degradation and aging of historical documents, in order to formulate physically based conservation practice guidelines to be used by conservators.

The project is embedded within a H2020 project with contributions from a large international consortium of partners, led by the Polythenical University of Valencia (Spain), and including several important research institutions (e.g. Universitá La Sapienza, Italy; KADK, Denmark) and museums (e.g. The Royal Danish Collection, Denmark; Koninklijke Musea Voor Kunst En Geschiedenis, Belgium; Istoriki Ethnologiki Etaireia Elladas, Greece).


The PhD project at Chair of Applied Mechanics of the Department of the Built Environment will focus on the study of the long term response of paper based artefacts, through a multi-scale and multi-physics approach. Paper and parchment are complex multi-scale materials mainly consisting of cellulose fibres bonded to each other to form a discrete network. A model of the underlying fibrous network will be first developed. Its mechanical behaviour will be coupled with moisture diffusion and the chemical oxidation process, allowing to quantify the extent of degradation due to both the hysteretic response of the material upon moisture cycles and the chemical damage associated to cellulose degradation. Input parameters for the numerical analysis, such as the moisture sorption isotherm and mechanical properties at the fibre level, will be measured in a dedicated experimental campaign performed by a Postdoc in the context of the same project.


Job requirements

We are looking for a candidate with an MSc-degree in Civil Engineering or Mechanical Engineering, with an interest to work in an interdisciplinary project that applies a computational mechanics, multi-physics and multi-scale modelling approach to the fields of art conservation and restoration. The candidate is expected to have a strong interest multi-scale and multi-physics methods. Moreover, the following skills are required:
  • knowledge in solid mechanics,
  • experience in using finite element analyses,
  • programming knowledge,
  • excellent oral and writing skills in English
  • an enthusiastic attitude to collaborate in a cooperative and multi-disciplinary environment,
  • basic knowledge of chemistry is a plus.

Salary Benefits:

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • An exciting job in a multidisciplinary environment.
  • A full time appointment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation after 1 year.
  • A gross monthly salary from € 2.325 (first year) to € 2.972 (fourth year) in line with the Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities. In addition, PhD candidates receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end of the year allowance.
  • The possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • Besides this, the TU/e has an excellent package of attractive benefits for employees, a child-care facility, and a modern sports complex.
  • Assistance for finding accommodation can be given.
  • Especially for PhD students the TU/e also offers opportunities for personal development. We do this by offering every PhD student a series of courses that are part of the Proof program as an excellent addition to your scientific education. (Information on the PROOF program can be found on:

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


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