PhD positions - creep mechanics of cellulose materials

WorkplaceZurich, Zurich region, Switzerland


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The Institute for Building Materials (IfB) at ETH Zurich focuses on fundamental and applied research in novel and established building materials. The lfB consists of 5 research groups with a wide spectrum of experimental and computational competences. To strengthen our complex systems and materials group, we are offering the three following positions for young scientists (m/f).

Innovations in the way we build with wood require a more detailed understanding of its creep behavior, in particular of mechano-sorptive creep under varying climatic conditions. Today’s knowledge on the origin of creep in wood is rather limited, even though for durable applications, sound predictive material models are crucial. In this project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), we plan to explore with a small team of three doctoral students creep on all relevant length scales, from the behavior of the cell wall layer, up to the scale of the construction material. On all scales, we follow a combined experimental-numerical approach that will result in realistic descriptions of the creep behavior for material models and hence be the basis for better use of wood in constructions.

PhD 1

Your work will be devoted to the mechanical behavior of wood cells. Based on the latest findings about structure and chemistry of wood cell walls, you will develop a numerical cell wall model that incorporates the elemental interactions of constituents in a way that observed behavior emerges. You will perform your experiments on the micro-mechanical behavior of cell-wall samples at the EMPA in Thun, CH under the guidance of the project partner Dr. Jakob Schwiedrzik and by single cell tests at ETH. Therefore, it is necessary that you have the capability to work with small samples.

PhD 2

Your work will be devoted to the mechanical behavior of wood tissue sections, where the interaction of fibers of different types and different loading situations rule the creep behavior. You will build up and perform your experiments in climate chambers at the IfB. Your micro-mechanical models will give important insight into the role of the wood structure on the creep behavior, and deliver the numerical basis for the parameter identification of constitutive models for Finite Element calculations.

PhD 3

Your work will be devoted to the hygro-mechanical behavior of wood sections. You will develop testing procedures for the efficient determination of consistent datasets on the hygro-mechanical behavior of wood, along with the parameter identification of rheological material models for FEM calculations that you will refine based on your findings.

You meet the requirements for a doctoral programme at ETH Zurich and hold a MSc in civil or mechanical engineering, materials engineering, physics or computer science, or similar disciplines. You are highly motivated and eager to learn and you like to combine theoretical considerations and models with experimental tasks. A strong background in computer modeling, strong interest in interdisciplinary scientific work and interest in both theoretical and practical work are a premise. Accurate work and very good communication skills in German and English are mandatory.

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.

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

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

Further information about D-BAUG, IfB, and Empa Thun can be found on the following websites:

For further information (no applications), please contact Dr.-Ing. Falk Wittel, Institute for Building Materials (fwittel Please also visit our websites.


In your application, please refer to and reference JobID 48684.

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