PhD Position Monitoring Stuctural Health Conditions by Laser Doppler Vibrometry (LDV)

Obtain a Phd while measuring the health conditions of linear structures at the speed of light!

Job description

Within the research program RESET– “Reliable Embankments for the Safe Expansion of Rail Traffic” – ProRail, Deltares and TU Delft will work together to investigate the behaviour of moving trains on rail embankments with special attention to increasing train frequency and trainloads, and effects of climate change. 


Railway is the backbone of sustainable mobility. The section of Railway Engineering at the department of Engineering Structures within TU Delft’s Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences deals with the physical assets of the railway system, including track, embankment, rolling stock and catenary, as well as the interfaces and dynamic interactions between them. The research, innovation, development and education of the section concern the whole life cycle of the assets, from design, construction, operation, degradation, monitoring, maintenance to retrofit, as well as the data-driven intelligent management of the assets, taking into consideration of the performance of the whole railway system. The section plays a leading role in the TU Delft Rail Institute (DelftRail). 

RESET develops methods to assess the safety of the track-embankment-soil system under dynamic train loading. Measurement data along track and over time are needed for the assessment. These include train load estimated from axle box acceleration, measurement of surface vibration and waves of track and embankment, and delineation of soil layering and moisture content from ground-penetrating radar. Joint load-vibration-soil layering analysis can be used to quantify and visualize the spatial distribution of soil properties within subsurface layers and layer thickness. These characterizations of structure and material conditions can be further analyzed together with geometry data measured from train and InSAR to enhance the reliability of embankment stability assessment. This research will be conducted on the reference project site(s) of RESET and in the TU Delft laboratory test rig V-track, after which it will be calibrated/validated on the TU Delft measurement CTO in railway operational conditions.

Project description

To assess the health condition of linear structures like railways, roads, bridges and tunnels, the most efficient and effective inspection method is to measure from an operational vehicle and analyse the dynamic responses excited by the vehicle at normal traffic speed.

This PhD project is to develop such a measurement method by scanning the structures with LDV. The challenges include optimizing the configuration of the measurement system, and especially, removing the noise in the signals, as well as extracting signatures from the signals which are characteristic of the health condition of the structures. The project has the most advanced data acquisition systems, controlled lab experimental facilities and full-scale vehicle for real-life testing. The results are applicable to not only linear structures, but much broader, including such as machines, wind mills, etc.


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Applied Physics, Mechanical, Electrical, Aerospace, Geophysical, Geotechnical, Civil Engineering or a related field. Experience in measurement, data acquisition and signal processing is necessary. Knowledge in dynamics and vibration is preferred but not required. 

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Adviceto assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core valuesand we actively engageto be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

The department of Engineering Structures focuses on the design, mechanics, materials, and construction of resilient, smart and sustainable structures and infrastructures as well as on the structures for energy transition. Within these main themes research is carried out into the dynamics of structures, mechanics of materials related to e.g. climate change, multi-scale characterization and modelling of pavement materials and structures, reuse of materials, structures and parts of structures, assessment methods for structures, smart monitoring techniques, design methods, replacement and renovation of civil infrastructure and development of new materials and maintenance techniques. The groups are using the Macro-mechanic Laboratory (Stevinlab 2) for micro-scale to full scale testing, monitoring and modelling of structures to facilitate implementation of innovations. The department delivers a large number of courses both at the BSc and MSc level.

Additional information

For additional information (other than application procedure), please contact Prof. Zili Li (

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 18 June 2023 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.


  • FACULTY/DEPARTMENT- Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences
  • SCIENTIFIC FIELD- Engineering
  • HOURS PER WEEK- 36-40
  • SALARY- € 2.541,00 – € 3.247,00
  • DESIRED LEVEL OF EDUCATION- University graduate