PhD Position in Thermochromic Coatings

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Materials Engineering


KU Leuven is one of the top 50 universities in the world, and has been ranked as the most innovative university in Europe, and 7th in the world (Reuters, 2019). The New Materials group at Campus Bruges belongs to the Department of Materials Engineering. The group is divided in two subgroups, ProPoliS concentrates mainly on polymer processing, whereas the Interfacial and Surface Engineering Research group (iR group) focuses on the development of novel and advanced materials through modification of material interfaces for several application domains (construction, energy, transport, health). The project is a collaboration between the New Materials group (iR subgroup), the M group (mechatronics, sensors) and RecyCon (construction), all hosted on Campus Bruges.


Global warming has led to extreme weather events, such as heat waves and periods of very cold weather. These conditions result in a higher death rate. Moreover, energy consumed by buildings for heating and cooling have increased by 11% over the last 40 years. High energy prices can cause severe financial hardship among the less well off in society. Therefore, in this project, we focus on improving the thermal efficiency of buildings.

Energy efficiency in terms of the heating and cooling of buildings can best be optimized by focusing on the envelope of the building. High thermal efficiency results from having a low or dynamically controlled transfer of heat across this building envelope. Two important causes of heat transfer are conduction and radiation. Conduction, which is minimized by selecting building materials with low heat conductivities and applying additional insulation to roofs and walls. Radiation is given less consideration, this despite it being important during heat waves and exposure to the sun.

The goal of the PhD project is to develop a multifunctional thermochromic coating that can dynamically regulate heat transfer by radiation, and to ensure durable adhesion of the coating on concrete. Thermochromic coatings reversibly change colour and optical properties as a function of temperature, and can be white and reflecting at high temperature, and dark and absorbing at low temperature. The research will involve chemical synthesis of thermochromic particles, surface modification, and characterization, and investigation of the impact of concrete properties on coating adhesion. There will be a close collaboration with concrete experts in this project.

We are looking for a first-class, motivated, hard-working PhD candidate, who will conduct innovative research in the field of materials engineering. The ideal candidate has excellent chemical and engineering laboratory skills, and a strong interest in functional materials.

Successful completion of the research project will result in a number of scientific international journal papers and a PhD at the Faculty of Engineering Technology (KU Leuven). Results from the research will be published in international scientific journals, and will be presented at conferences and to interested companies and potential users.


The candidate:

-         Holds a European master degree in engineering technology, materials engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry or equivalent and ranks within the top 10% of his/her class

-         Has a strong interest and knowledge in the field of functional material synthesis, material characterization, and physical chemistry of interfaces

-         Has strong communication skills and is willing to present their research results at national and international conferences, and on social media, as well as writing research papers for publication in international peer-reviewed journals

-         Is willing to help in teaching activities and co-supervision of undergraduate projects

-         Is willing to write a PhD fellowship proposal

-         Is flexible, has good time management skills and self-discipline, can work independently as well as in a team

-         Has a creative, critical, analytical and innovative mindset

-         Is very fluent in English both spoken and written

-         Experience as a researcher or in industry is a plus

-         Having authored or co-authored peer-reviewed publications is a plus


The successful candidate will be hired as a PhD researcher. We offer a full time one year contract which can be prolonged to four years upon positive evaluation. Your main working place is the Brugge campus.

The KU Leuven pursues a policy of equal opportunity and diversity.

Start date: April 1st 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Veerle Vandeginste, tel.: +32 50 66 49 32, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than February 14th 2023 via the online application tool.

In addition to your CV and motivation letter, please add a pdf version of your Master thesis, an overview of your study results, and the contact details of two references.

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

You can apply for this job no later than February 14, 2023 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: Brugge
  • Apply before: February 14, 2023
  • Tags: Industriële Ingenieurswetenschappen
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