ESR1) Andrea Silva
(ESR and PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

Short bio: During my B.Sc. in Physics at the University of Milan I studied the fundaments of modern physics and as a final project I applied methods from statistical mechanics and information theory to analyse the correlation and model the interactions in complex system such as bacteria genomes and software repositories.
I continued to study at the University of Milan and obtained a M.Sc in Theoretical Physics, with a focus on statistical mechanics and computational techniques, with a thesis on fundamental aspects of friction in collaboration with the SISSA in Trieste and the Max Plank Institute in Stuttgart (T. Brazda, A. Silva et al., "Experimental Observation of the Aubry Transition in Two-Dimensional Colloidal Monolayers" Phys. Rev. X, 8, 011050, 2018).
During my studies I worked as an assistant administrator at student-managed computer laboratory within the university, where I learned how to manage a Debian-based cluster.

Project title: Phase and charging behaviour of complex 2D materials from first principles

Topic description: My focus within the SOLUTION project is to link accurate but expensive Density Functional Theory calculation to simpler, coarse-grained classical models. This mapping allows us to analyse the effect of chemical composition on the thermodynamical behaviour, not accessible at DFT level, and to build phase diagrams of materials that can serve as guidelines to experimentalists in synthesis processes like CVD.
Another aspect of the project is to rationalise electronic and vibrational properties as function of the composition in order to identify features at atomistic level able to describe the frictional response of a material. From these descriptors we intend to build a predictive model and identify new materials with tailored tribological properties that could be produced and tested in a laboratory.

ESR2) Paola Carolina Torche
(ESR and PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

Short bio: Bsc in Physics from the University of Barcelona. Before joining the SOLUTION project, I worked as a student assistant at Bielefeld University in Germany, and Lund University in Sweden. At Bielefeld University, I was as a student assistant for a project aiming at expertise recognition in chess players from eye-tracking measurements (Automatic Analysis of Players Behavior in Real Dyadic Chess Situations. Kuchelmann T, Torche PC, et al. 1st Workshop on "Behavior, Emotion and Representation: Building Blocks of Interaction" (2017), Bielefeld). At Lund University, after completing my bachelor project, I worked on post-processing of DNA images from fluorescence microscopy (Noise reduction in single time frame optical DNA maps. (2017) PLOS ONE). During my bachelor degree, I worked as a technician at the XPS laboratory at the University of Barcelona.

Project title: Stochastic aspects of thermodynamic irreversibility in nanoscale friction

Topic description: My research within the SOLUTION project is on describing nanoscale friction at a fundamental level using mesoscopic low-order models (Prandtl-Tomlinson, Frenkel-Kontorova, earthquake-like models), which lie in between macroscopic level descriptions and Molecular Dynamics. By using low-order models, one focuses on fewer degrees of freedom by averaging the behaviour at a molecular level, and this allows to obtain results on larger time and length scales than in Molecular Dynamics, and comparable to Friction Force Microscopy experiments.
In particular, the aim of my project is to contribute with a thermodynamic description to the theory of nanoscale friction in small systems. For that aim, we use the framework of Stochastic thermodynamics, developed in the last 30 years for describing small fluctuating systems consistently with macroscopic thermodynamics. Stochastic thermodynamics has been applied to several fields (molecular motors, DNA stretching, optical tweezers), but not many studies have been done on frictional systems, although attention from the comunity of Stochastic Thermodynamics towards this field has increased recently. Stochastic thermodynamics applied to friction would allow, for instance, to calculate and decouple heat produced, heat that stays in the friction system, and heat dissipated into the surroundings, complementing descriptions based on phonons.

ESR3) Aleš Rapuc
(ESR and PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

Short bio: I graduated with a BSc degree in Mechanical engineering at University of Ljubljana in 2015. As a part of my studies I completed an internship at Tesnila GK d.o.o. in Prevalje, Slovenia, where I became familiar with injection moulding of rubber seals for automotive industry in 2014. Next year I joined Laboratory for Tribology and Surface Nanotechnology at University of Ljubljana for a project work concerning the implementation of Quartz Crystal Microbalance for in-situ adsorption analysis of lubricating oil additives. I have continued my studies on Master Tribos – Joint Master Programme in Tribology of Surfaces and Interfaces at four European universities (University of Ljubljana, University of Leeds, University of Coimbra, Lulea Technical University). I graduated in September 2017, with the Master thesis title: Lubricating oil additive adsorption analysis using Quartz Crystal Microbalance. Following October I started PhD at University Of Southampton as a part of SOLUTION ITN project.

Project title: Frictional properties of 2D materials

Topic description: My research concerns nano- and atomic-scale friction measurements of TMD (Transition Metal Dichalcogenide) layers (monolayers, bilayers, multilayers). The samples are prepared by CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) and friction is analysed utilising friction force microscopy, an operation mode of atomic force microscopy. The results would serve to better understanding friction in single asperity contact on such materials, to further explore the frictional properties of potential materials for friction reduction in MEMS (micro electro mechanical systems) and bridge the gap between macro-scale tribology and atomistic simulations.

ESR4) Kaushik Hebbar Kannur
(ESR at Research Institute in Surface Engineering (IREIS), PhD at University of Southampton, UK)

Short bio:

  • Master’s Degree
    Completed Masters in FAME (Functional Advanced Materials Engineering), ERASMUS MUNDUS Dual master’s programme. Year 1 with Functional advanced materials at University of Augsburg, Germany, Year 2 with Hybrid materials and ceramics at University of Bordeaux, France
    Period: October 2015 - June 2017
  • Past work experience
    Senior Research Fellow,
    Surface interaction and manufacturing laboratory, Tribology
    Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, INDIA
    Period:- July 2013- September 2017
  • Bachelor’s Degree
    Completed Bachelors of engineering in Mechanical Engineering, from BTL institute of Technology and Management, Bangalore, INDIA during the period August 2009 to June 2013.

Project title: Development of novel solid lubricants in industrial conditions

Topic description: The aim of the research work is to upscale the research related to TMD based materials such as MoS2 and WS2 to industrial scale. This is done entirely in industrial environment and taking sufficient knowledge and support from Universities and other project partners. The work is to dope nitrogen with TMD coatings and deposit using Plasma vapor deposition on a Direct current (DC) magnetron sputtering technique. The mechanical and tribological properties will be studied. The goal is to obtain high hardness, low wear, and ultra-low coefficient of friction. Such coating once obtained will be coated and tested on 3D industrial components meant for dry and vacuum condition where it will be highly needed as potential application.

ESR5) Loukia Maritsa
(ESR and PhD at University of Burgos, Spain)

Short bio: Integrated Master of Chemical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) (2007-2015) and Master of Physics and Technological Applications (2015-)from NTUA as well. Erasmus Traineeship "Preparation and Characterization of Nanosized Olivine-based Materials for Environment and Energy Related Fields" at the University of Sassari (2017).

Project title: Large scale MD simulations of MoS2

Topic description: In this work, we use advanced Molecular Dynamics (MD) and Density Functional Theory (DFT) methodologies to study friction phenomena at the nanoscale. The combination of Classical Physics and Quantum Mechanics enables us to understand the mechanisms of at the basis of low friction behaviour exhibited by TMDs, extract information about solid lubricant tribolayer formation and enhance the macroscopic tribological properties of conventional lubricants by adding TMD layers.

ESR6) Brixhilda Domi
(ESR and PhD at University of Burgos, Spain)

Short bio: I received my MSc degree in biomedical and Molecular biology in October, 2017, with 110 cum laude (First class honours,1st), recommendation for publication and academic mention at the "University of Amedeo Avogadro, Department of Science and Technological innovation", Alessandria, Italy. During my BSc degree and MSc degree I have been working in different Hospitals and Laboratories such as trainee in distinct fields: Microbiology, Cell biology and Biomedicine. In November 2017, I won the Maria Skłodowska Curie-SOLUTION-ITN position as a PhD student. I am working at ICCRAM, in the Nanotoxicity field, supervised by Dr. Roberto Quesada Pato and co-supervised by Dr. Juanan Antonio Tamayo-Ramos.

Project title: Nanosafety of 2D TMD related particles

Topic description: My PhD project is focused on the evaluation of biocompatibility and nanotoxicity of graphene-like 2D materials such as Transition Metal Disulfides TMDs, using as models human tumor cell lines, bacteria and yeast. At present, the toxicological behavior of 2D-TMDs is poorly understood and there is a lack of scientific reports addressing this subject. One of the goals of the SOLUTION project is to investigate the toxicological potential of TMDs in the referred systems using a variety of techniques.

ESR7) Talha bin Yaqub
(ESR at Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN), Portugal; PhD from University of Coimbra, Portugal)

Short bio:
Current Employment: Researcher at Instituto Pedro Nunes and PhD student in University of Coimbra, Portugal sponsored by Marie Curie SOLUTION-ITN Project.
MSc TRIBOS: European Joint Erasmus Mundus Course “European Joint Erasmus Mundus Course “Tribology of Surfaces and Interfaces” - Grade Points: 9.2/10
Thesis: Effects of Ag additions on the structure, mechanical and thermal behaviour of Cr-O solid lubricant films
B.E Materials Engineering: National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Islamabad, Pakistan. GPA 3.66/4.0
Thesis: Characterization and Heat treatment study of engine piston sleeve
Publication: F. Fernandes, T. B. Yaqub, A. Cavaleiro, “Influence of Ag additions on the structure, mechanical properties and oxidation behaviour of Cr-O coatings deposited by HiPIMS”, Surface and Coatings Technology, Volume 339, 2018, Pages 167-180, ISSN 0257-8972

Project title: Tribological properties of novel TMD-based coatings

Topic description: The existing literature in the domain of carbon doped/alloyed TMD systems shows multiple incongruencies in results. Literature fails to report any consistency of the behavior of the coatings in various environments where the low friction tribological properties achieved improve in some cases and lacks improvement in others. It has also been observed that coating microstructure plays a significant role in defining the tribological characteristics. Literature reports nanoparticles or platelets of TMDs embedded in amorphous carbon matrix is ideal for best sliding properties, but the reason of the formation of such platelets is absent. Optimization of TMD-C coatings microstructure by analysis of the reasons attributed to the formation of nanocrystalline microstructure and reason behind self-adaptive low frictional tribological properties, along with achievement of good mechanical properties will be goal of the work. Moreover, none of the groups have reported a more systematic and organized study towards all domains of TMD-C. Therefore, different magnetron sputtering deposition techniques (including rf magnetron sputtering, dc magnetron sputtering and high-power impulse magnetron sputtering) will be utilized in this work to achieve ultra-low friction and wear microstructure along with good mechanical properties of various TMD-C systems. Afterwards, the best coating technique and C doped TMD system will be selected based on cost of the equipment, material and properties for upscaling to industrial applicability.

ESR8) Todor Vuchkov
(ESR at Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN), Portugal; PhD from University of Coimbra, Portugal)

Short bio: Born on 16.10.1990 in Negotino, Republic of Macedonia. Bachelor of Science degree (2009-2013) in mechanical engineering in the field of motor vehicles from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University "Ss. Cyril and Methodious"-Skopje Macedonia. One year working experience (2014-2015) as Process Engineer in the bottling department at Tikves Winery (Republic of Macedonia). MSc degree (2015-2017) in Tribology of Surfaces and Interfaces (Lulea University of Technology-Sweden,

Project title: Up-scale of magnetron sputtering deposition processes for TMD-based solid lubricant coatings

Topic description: The core objective is to up-scale the deposition process from laboratory chamber to larger industrial-size equipment and optimize the deposition process in order to match coating requirements in terms of density, chemical composition, structure and mechano-tribological properties. Different characterization techniques are used to study the relationship between the process parameters and coatings properties, such as electron microscopy, XRD, XPS, AFM, nanoindentation and related techniques.

ESR9) Tomáš Hudec
(ESR at Jihlavan a.s., Czech Republic; PhD from University of Southampton, UK)

Short bio:
Education: 2012 – 2015 Comenius University in Bratislava – Bachelor´s degree in physics; 2015 – 2017 Comenius University in Bratislava – Master´s degree in solid state physics
Language skills: English (Advanced C1), Russian (beginner), Czech (fluent), Slovak (native)
Driving licence: Category B, B1, AM - Active driver
Attributes: Flexibility, creativity, logical and rational thinking, communicability, sociability, positive thinker, diligence. I am not afraid of life challenges and complicated tasks.

Project title: Solid lubricants for aerospace applications

Topic description: Primary aim of this work is to develop novel solid lubricant films and/or enhance properties of the existing coatings. Films will be deposited mainly using cutting-edge High Target Utilisation Sputtering (HiTUS) and High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HiPIMS) physical vapor deposition methods. Films will be studied, especially from academic as well as practical point of view with potential applications in the industry, utilizing wide spectrum of analytical methods including EDS, WDS, XPS, XRD, Raman spectroscopy, SEM, TEM, nanoindentation and ball-on-disc. Hopefully, final results will be published in currented journals and contribute to the current knowledge in the field of solid lubrication.

ESR10) Florian Belviso
(ESR and PhD at Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic)

Short bio:

  • Currently PhD Student at Advanced Material Group, Czech Technical University in Prague
  • February 2016 – July 2016 (6 months): Research Intership in Quantum Mechanics, Institut de Science et d'Ingénierie Supramoléculaires (ISIS),Strasbourg, France
  • February 2015 – June 2015 (5 months): Research Internship in particle physics, CERN, Strasbourg, France
  • 2016: Master 2 MCN (Condensed matter and nanophysics), Strasbourg University
  • 2015: Master 2 PSA (Subatomic physics and astroparticles), Strasbourg University

Project title: Ab initio study of the role of structural dynamics on heat diffusion, energy dissipation and layer exfoliation

Topic description: The goal of this study is to investigate the atomic scale tribological properties of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), using ab-initio techniques. Such compounds are formed by triatomic layers with MX2 stoichiometry (M: transition metal cation, X: chalcogen anion) held together by van der Waals forces.
In particular, we are considering 6 different prototypical MX2 TMDs (M=Mo, W; X=S, Se, Te) with hexagonal P63/mmc symmetry.
These TMDs are used extensively in multiple fields. In order to fabricate TMD-based devices using layer exfoliation techniques, it becomes important to acquire a better understanding of friction at nanoscale. The simulation work allows to predict the frictional behaviour of the materials, which makes possible to suggest to experimentalists new structural and composition configurations.
We aim to investigate these frictional properties, focusing on how specific phonon modes contribute to their intrinsic friction. As a first step, we show how applying an electric field to the TMD system can allow us to control its electronic and frictional behaviour.

ESR11) Victor Emile Philippe Claerbout
(ESR and PhD at Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic)

Short bio: Victor received his BSc degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at Amsterdam University College in 2014 with a major in physics and mathematics. This program also gave him the opportunity to study at the Chinese University in Hong Kong. He performed his bachelor thesis under the supervision of prof. C. Fonseca Guerra and prof. F.M. Bickelhaupt at the VU University (VU) in Amsterdam, focusing upon DHB-based hydrogen storage using DFT. Thereafter, he attended a pre-masters program at the VU. During this period he was also rewarded with a research grant within the Top Sector Chemistry Student Competition by the NWO (Dutch Scientific Organization) to perform a quantum chemical study on the optimization of organic molecules used in solar cells. In 2015, he got accepted to the Eramus Mundus masters program AtoSiM. This two-year program, which focused on computer modeling, allowed him to study at the VU in Amsterdam, La Sapienza in Rome, and at Ecole normale superieure in Lyon (ENS). He wrote his master thesis under the supervision of prof. E. Dumont at the ENS studying DNA damage using MD/QMMM. In 2017, he was rewarded with a triple masters degree in chemistry, physics, and materials science. Currently, he is doing his PhD under the ITN-Solution project in theoretical physics at the Czech Technical University in Prague, where he receives supervision from prof. T. Polcar and ass. prof. P. Nicolini and specializes on TMD-based solid lubricants.

Project title: Dynamical simulation of solid lubricants during sliding

Topic description: 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.

ESR12) Ruben Herrero Garcia
(ESR at John Crane Ltd, UK; PhD from University of Southampton, UK)

Short bio: Industrial engineer graduated by the University Carlos III of Madrid (Spain) in 2014 with a master in rotating machinery by the University of Zaragoza in 2017. My professional experience started in 2013 as a project and reliability engineer in Eagleburgmann. Some of my tasks were the management of fixed-fee agreements in refineries, providing technical assistance on-site, tracking of international projects from the tendering to the equipment start-up, failure analysis and inspection reports of damaged mechanical seals. Then, I moved to John Crane UK Ltd in November of 2017 to start the PhD under the ITN-Solution project.

Project title: Solid lubricant coatings for gas seals

Topic description: The research consists on development a reliable testing methodology that shortens the time of validating novel coatings for the seal faces components in dry gas seals. The first approach is avoiding to the extent possible the testing in dry gas seal rigs. Other tribological results from basic ball-on-disc, pin-on-disc and disc-on-disc rigs are proposed as an alternative. In the event this proposal turned out to be unfavourable or unreliable, the objective would focus on reducing the testing time on dry gas seal and slow-roll rigs.

ESR13) Emmanouil Mathioudakis
(ESR at Artia Nano Engineering and Consulting, Greece; PhD from University of Patras, Greece)

Short bio:
Professional Experience & Education:

  • 2015–2018 Product/Device Engineer – Semiconductors, SEMEFAB LTD. – Glenrothes, UK
    Maximising product yield (semiconductor devices in wafer level). Electrical testing of semiconductor devices, R&D
  • 2014–2015 MSc Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW – Glasgow
    With Merit, Scholarship from the Scottish Funding Council
    Dissertation: Production and characterization of MoS 2 thin films
  • 2007–2013 BSc Physics, UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS – Athens, Greece
    Dissertation: Physical Properties of Graphene Oxide (GO)
Skills: Semiconductor/Silicon wafer testing and characterization, Micro/Nanofabrication, Semiconductor processing, LabVIEW, Statistical Data Analysis.

Project title: Development of pulse plated electrolytic composite solid lubricant coatings

Topic description: Mr. Mathioudakis is going to be employed in the production of Ni–P and Ni matrix composite deposits under both Direct and Pulse Current regime via the electro co‒deposition technique. Those deposits, in particular, must have self‒lubricating properties, thus as a dispersion phase particles of WS2 and or MoS2, will be used. Furthermore, a complete characterization of the composites’ microstructure, composition and morphology is going to be held. (XRD, SEM– EDS, AFM). Apart from the deposits’ self‒lubricating properties, other properties such as self–cleaning, corrosion resistance, microhardness and surface roughness are going to be held. Up–scaling of the process and investigation of potential engineering applications of the developed composite coatings are also going to be done.
For the time being, the ESR has contucted a bibliographic review over the expanded topics of Composite Electrodeposits and also of Pulse Plating and is being trained on the technique of electro co‒deposition. Furthermore, he is gaining acquaintance with optical microscopy and microhardness measuring. Proper experimental work and training has been scheduled to begin on November, when research work done by former ESR will be carried on.

ESR14) Kapil Bhorkar
(ESR at Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH), Greece; PhD from University of Rennes 1, France)

Short bio: Kapil Bhorkar holds BSc (2013) and MSc (2015) degrees in Physics from University of Mumbai, India. His Masters’ Thesis (under Prof. A. Bhattacharya, TIFR-Mumbai) was focused on the theoretical study of fractal patterns formation and effects of Nb-doping in MoS2 and WS2 crystal. Then, over the period 08-2015/08-2016, he constructed and optimized a CVD system for growth of graphene and MoS2, working under the supervision of Prof. Narayanan (TCIS, Hyderabad). He worked as a visiting researcher (8 months) in the laboratory of Prof. Zheng Liu (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) on the CVD growth of 2D crystals and III-N heterostructures. His current research activities are concentrated on the growth of novel 2D materials for a range of applications with emphasis in nano-tribology. He has co-authored two papers.

Project title: Synthesis and advanced characterization of novel solid lubricant coatings based on transition metal dichalcogenides

Topic description: The central aim of My PhD thesis is to explore novel solid lubricant materials based on layered crystals such as transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) of the form MX2 (M: Mo, W, Ta, etc., and X: S, Se, Te), which will outperform current commercially available solutions. Materials synthesis will mainly take place via high-temperature thermal evaporation techniques such as physical and chemical vapor deposition (PVD, CVD) onto various substrates. During material synthesis, emphasis 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 TMDCs, (iv) the growth of mixed transition metal and/or mixed chalcogen crystals. Advanced physicochemical characterization will take place with electron microscopies (SEM, TEM), optical spectroscopies (Raman and Photoluminescence spectroscopy), and surface sensitive techniques (XPS/UPS). Tribological characterization will be performed at the nanoscale by using Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM) for lateral force measurements (LFM), as well as at the macroscale by using pin-on-disk tribometers. The effect of extreme conditions (e.g., temperature, load, different atmospheres) will also be studied. Ultimately, we aim at utilizing this study in tribology related applications.