PhD Position in Development of a Framework for the Determination of Constitutive Parameters

Catholic University of Leuven


At KU Leuven, the departments of Materials Engineering and Computer Science have established a new strategic research initiative on Computational Materials Science, led by Prof. Martin Diehl. The aim is to develop advanced computational tools and new materials, giving an extra dimension to the ongoing research in the two departments. The Department of Materials Engineering (MTM) performs research on material properties and behaviour, materials design and materials production and recycling. At the Department of Computer Science, the research unit NUMA performs research on numerical methods, algorithms and software for simulation and data analysis, with applications in many fields in science and engineering. The research in the unit NUMA on materials engineering focusses on multi-scale simulation, high performance computing and model order reduction. The departments have an extensive national and international network, both in the academic and industrial world. URLs: and


Continuum-scale constitutive laws for crystal plasticity enable the investigation of metal forming processes at time and length scales relevant for engineering applications. The determination of the constitutive parameters for these models is, however, a challenging task and often hampers the further use of this powerful simulation technique. One promising approach is the use of nanoindentation to provide the benchmark data that can be used in repeated crystal plasticity simulations to determine constitutive parameters.

The aim of the Ph.D. project is the development and application of a free and open source framework for crystal plasticity parameter determination based on nanoindentation experiments and continuum modeling. This requires to develop a contact mechanics formulation that is able to describe the interaction between the nanoindenter and the probed material.

We are looking for a Ph.D. candidate who is interested in computational contact mechanics and numerical methods. The proposed tasks include:

  • Development of a contact model based on open source numerical libraries
  • Implementation of the contact formulation into an existing crystal plasticity code
  • Simulation studies to determine constitutive parameters from nanoindentation experiments


You must have an Master degree and a solid background in one of the following areas: computational materials science and engineering, computational mechanics, mathematical engineering, scientific computing, applied mathematics. You should be willing to acquire complementary knowledge from other research areas relevant to the project.
Excellent proficiency in English is required, both oral and written.


  • We offer a full time position as a PhD researcher. Funding is secured for four years. The initial offer will be a one-year appointment, of which the renewal will only depend on the progress in the PhD research.
  • You will receive a monthly tax-free grant. In addition, health insurance and social security will be covered.
  • You will work in a supportive multi-disciplinary research team of engineers and scientists with backgrounds in material science, mathematical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science.
  • You will build up research and innovation skills that are essential for a future career in research and development, both in industry and academia.
  • You will benefit from outstanding training programmes that KU Leuven offers to its PhD students.


For more information please contact Prof. Martin Diehl, mail:, Prof. Martine Wevers, mail: or Prof. Dirk Roose, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than July 15, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
    • Employment percentage: Voltijds
    • Location: Leuven
    • Apply before: July 15, 2020
    • Tags: Computerwetenschappen

In your application, please refer to