PhD scholarship in Climatic Reliability of Electronic Devices

DTU Mechanical Eng
Thursday 03 May 18

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The Materials and Surface Engineering section of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark is seeking candidate for 1 PhD position in the field of “Climatic reliability of electronics devices” focusing on understanding the water film formation on PCBA surfaces and electrical/electrochemical properties of the water film”. The PhD programme is part of the CreCon industrial consortium and in close collaboration with a number of electronic companies.

The PhD position is for a period of 3 years and expected to start from August 1st 2018.

Humidity influenced corrosion reliability of electronics is a serious issue today due to the wide spread usage of electronics, which results in exposure to various climatic conditions. Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) is the main component of electronics that gets influenced by humidity due to water film formation under transient climate conditions such as humidity and temperature as well as due to several inherent factors of the PCBA itself. Electrical property of the water film is essentially determined by the electrochemical aspects of the micro-cell formed on the PCBA surface when water film connects between neighboring biased points such as soldered connections or legs of components. The water film thickness formed under humid conditions can vary from nm scale to hundredths of nanometer depending on the humidity, temperature, hygroscopic residues, and PCBA parameters. Failure of electronics is determined by the interplay of these electrochemical sequences resulting in a parasitic circuit of different capacity interfering with the electrical aspects of the PCBA. Therefore understanding and controlling the water film build up, and knowledge on sequential changes in the electrochemical aspects leading to a critical level of parasitic current is important in controlling the humidity related failures in electronics.

Responsibilities and tasks
The intended PhD will focus on understanding interplay between electrochemical mechanisms and failure of electronic devices due to change in electrical functionality under humid conditions due to thin water film formation. Project will also focus on electrochemical impedance and DC electrochemical methods in understanding the water film formation and accurately measuring the electrical/electrochemical properties. Final goal of the project is to use probabilistic models based on parametric investigations to define failure models and risk factor prediction, which can be used for industrial application. Therefore the PhD work will involve extreme use of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and DC electrochemical methods, microscopic methods for water film characterization, and some level of probabilistic modelling.

Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering.

Preferably a Masters degree in materials science and engineering, chemistry or physics or related subjects such as corrosion science and engineering with a knowledge of electrochemistry and electrochemical methods such as impedance spectroscopy and DC electrochemical methods. Combined expertise on probabilistic modelling is preferred. Also prior experience on Climatic reliability of electronics systems is an advantage. 

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Professor Rajan Ambat.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.   

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Rajan Ambat, tel.: +45 4525 2181, e-mail:   

You can read more about Department of Mechanical Engineering at and corrosion reliability of electronics research at

Please submit your online application no later than 31 May 2018 (local time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include: 

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Mechanical Engineering covers the fundamental engineering disciplines within Solid mechanics, Fluid mechanics, Coastal and Maritime Engineering, Energy systems and energy conversion, Materials and Surface Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Engineering design and Product development. The department has a scientific staff of about 157 persons, 95 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 85 persons.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.