PhD in Harvesting Energy with Levitating Magnets

DTU Energy
Wednesday 03 Oct 18

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A PhD fellowship on making the next-generation electromagnetic energy harvester using levitated magnets is now available at the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, Technical University of Denmark.
This PhD position at DTU Energy will constitute the major part of a unique research project where we want to use a levitated permanent magnet to harvest vibrational energy from various sources. We will do this by utilizing the principle that a permanent magnet that moves past a set of coils will induce a current, per Maxwell’s equations. If the permanent magnet can be moved by vibrations from the environment in a way that very little friction is present, the kinetic energy associated with the vibrations can be converted into free electricity, i.e. it can be harvested.
The way to move a permanent magnet without friction is to levitate it. This is done by placing other permanents magnets around the magnet, so that it is repelled and levitated. Once the magnet is levitated, vibrations can cause it to move past a set of coils to generate electricity. The details of how to realize a levitating setup of permanent magnets in the ideal way is still unknown, and the physics of movement of the levitated magnet by any vibrations is not well understood.
Your role as a PhD student will be to use the physics of magnetism to understand how to confine and levitate a magnet in one or more dimensions for optimal energy harvesting. This will be done with the aid of numerical modelling. You will also get to design and build an experimental setup on which to test your developed theory and associated designs. We have a US partner in the project and as a PhD student you would spend about three-six months there to learn about testing the designed harvester.
At the end of the PhD project, we will have developed a theory for levitating permanent magnets and their vibrations and have realized an experimental setup that can demonstrate that vibrations can be harvested using electromagnetism. The main activity will take place at the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage at DTU Risø campus initially and from ultimo 2019 at DTU Lyngby campus, as the department is being united at this campus.
Candidates should be highly motivated and must hold a master degree (or equivalent), preferably in physics, engineering or a science-related discipline.
Further qualifications:

  • Good understanding of realizing experimental setups
  • Good communication skills in English
  • Being able to work independently and in a team
Candidates with the following qualifications are preferred
  • Experience in numerical modeling
  • Experience with magnetism or electromagnetism
  • Experience with new experimental setups and Labview or similar programs
  • Experience with Matlab or Fortran or similar software
  • Experience with handling experimental data and data processing

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.

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.

The expected starting date is January 2019.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Please contact Associate Professor Rasmus Bjørk, and Associate Professor Christian Bahl,, for further information.
Please do not send applications to this e-mail address, instead apply online as described below.

Please submit your online application no later than 9 November 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 in 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.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

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

DTU Energy is focusing on functional materials and their application in sustainable energy technology. Our research areas include fuel cells, electrolysis, solar cells, magnetic refrigeration, superconductivity and thermoelectrics. Additional information about the department can be found on

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.