PhD Students in Crystallization fouling and the rational design of intrinsically scale-phobic surfaces
ETH Zurich, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering

PhD Students: Crystallization fouling and the rational design of intrinsically scale-phobic surfaces

100%, Zurich, temporary

The Laboratory of Thermodynamics in Emerging Technologies (LTNT) is in the department of Mechanical and Process Engineering (D-MAVT). We are looking for several PhD students in the areas of energy, surface science and engineering, and interfacial phenomena. This position is funded by a recently awarded ERC Starting Grant.


Project background

Hard water – that is, water containing a high concentration of minerals – can lead to fouling deposits in boilers and hot water pipes. Known as limescale, these deposits reduce the energy efficiency of industrial applications and may block filter membranes. This challenge is currently dealt with by chemical additives and modifying the water. In this ERC project, we aim to take a fresh approach where we rationally engineer surfaces to be intrinsically repellent to limescale and other mineral deposits based on the collaborative action of surface topography and composition.


Job description

The focus of this PhD will be on developing a science-base for how surface structure, composition, and environmental factors influence the onset of limescale nucleation, growth, and adhesion. The student will have the unique opportunity to learn, develop, and apply a range of cutting-edge surface nanoengineering techniques and advanced experimental characterization methods. Surfaces will be fabricated guided by theory as will the necessary new diagnostics that we will develop. Findings here will advance one of the most important remaining challenges for applications at the water-energy nexus and will carry fundamental implications for our ability to predict and control limescale formation.


Your profile

Only candidates with a Masters degree (or equivalent) in engineering, materials science, chemistry, physics or related areas from an internationally recognized institution and an excellent academic record will be considered. A strong interest in experimental work is required and previous experience with experimental work is an advantage.


ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Contact details of two references
  • Transcripts.

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.


For further information visit our website: For questions about the position, please contact Dr. Thomas Schutzius at (no application documents). We will start reviewing applications immediately. We will continue accepting applications until the positions are filled.

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