PhD studentship in Rolling Contact Fatigue: Multiscale microstructural changes

Sponsor: SKF Group

Supervisor: Dr Pedro Rivera

Applications are invited for a studentship for a 3 year research programme leading to the award of a Ph.D. The research will focus on the microstuctural changes occurring during bearing fatigue, particularly the formation of lenticular carbides, fine dislocation cells and nanocrystals. In particular the work will aim at: (1) Elucidating the relationship between the appearance of such features and bearing test conditions, such as contact pressure, number of revolutions, temperature, speed of revolution and the presence of inclusions or imperfections in the material. (2) Identifying the effect of such features on properties such as hardness, strength, ductility, toughness, as well as the appearance of residual stress and texture. (3) Employing (and developing when necessary), thermodynamic, kinetic and plasticity models to predict the formation of those features, making the link between bearing test conditions and the resulting property changes. (4) Informing the models with fundamental calculations, including those coming from atomistics and first principles, to predict upper-scale transitions. Using the results of the models as input to engineering-scale computations, such as finite element method calculations. The work will be validated against experiments with carefully chosen microstructures and testing conditions. The range of experimental techniques for sample preparation and analysis will include focussed ion beam, scanning electron microscopy, (high resolution) transmission electron microscopy, atom tomography and X-ray diffraction (possibly including synchrotron radiation experiments). The focus of this study will be on ASTM 52100 steel, with various heat treatments.

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The work will be performed within the framework of the SKF University Technology Centre at the University of Cambridge, under the sponsorship of SKF and the supervision of Dr. Pedro Rivera. The ideal candidate should have a strong background in metallurgy with a preference for steels. Due to funding restrictions, funding is available for British nationals and citizens of the European Union.

The minimum academic requirement for admission is an upper second class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng, MPhys, MChem etc, or a lower second with a good Master’s, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.

Application packs are available via the Apply link below or from Dr Rosie Ward ( who is happy to answer questions about the admissions process and funding opportunities available. Enquiries about the scientific nature of the work shall be addressed to Dr. Pedro Rivera (

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