Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Bronwyn Hajek

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
08 Jul 2022

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$28,854 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About this Project

This project aims to develop a new mathematical model to predict the pattern formation of a new class of permanent lubricants. Ionic liquids are conductive and do not evaporate, creating a unique opportunity to develop such coatings. These thin films form patterns where the pattern type (patches, stripes or holes) depends on the liquid/surface interaction. Only some patterns result in good lubrication; limited understanding of the pattern formation process hampers selection of a good lubricant for a chosen material. Current mathematical approaches are computationally expensive and time consuming. The new model expected from this project would provide a cheap, fast and reliable alternative for screening suitable liquid/surface pairs.

The new mathematical model expected from this project will aid our understanding and prediction of the behaviour of novel smart lubricants, composed of permanent ultrathin films. The outcome will be a simple, cost-effective, fast and reliable mathematical tool to identify new candidates for lubrication of challenging mechanical contacts. This will reduce the need for expensive and time-consuming experiments. These application specific lubricating layers will have particular impact in the fields of advanced manufacturing, smart coatings and aerospace applications, by increasing energy recovery from renewable resources, preventing mechanical failures, reducing maintenance costs and decreasing energy consumption. This represents real economic benefits to Australia, with potential cost savings due to proper lubrication estimated at 1% of Gross National Product, as well as environmental benefits due to increased energy efficiency and decreased material wastage.

What you’ll do

The successful applicant will work closely with experimental colleagues on the same project. They will be part of the Surface Interactions and Soft Matter group at the UniSA Future Industries Institute (FII), and will also interact with the modelling group in mathematics. They will interact with the supervisors wider group of collaborators outside UniSA, in Australia and internationally.

Upon completion of the project, the student will have a valuable interdisciplinary skill set of relevance in advanced manufacturing, lubrication formulation and coatings engineering. The student will have also gained skills in developing and solving mathematical models, and in working with nonlinear partial differential equations.

Travel to and presentation at conferences will be encouraged (subject to travel bans).

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $28,854 per annum is available to eligible applicants.  A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included.  For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:

  • have a degree in Mathematics or another related discipline
  • have the equivalent of an Australian honours in Mathematics or another related discipline
  • experience in modelling with and solving partial differential equations is highly regarded but not essential
  • knowledge in the chemical or physical sciences is highly regarded but not essential
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time, and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide.  
Essential Dates

For all projects: Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available.  Applications close on Friday, 8th July.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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