Philip Egberts

Associate Professor

Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

PhD - Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

McGill University, 2011

MASc - Materials Science and Engineering

McGill University - Department of Physics

BASc - Engineering Science

University of Toronto

Contact information


Office: 403.220.7678

Web presence

Personal website


Mechanical Engineering Building : MEB517


Materials I, (ENME421

ENME 417

Preferred method of communication



Research areas

  • Energy engineering
  • Engineering for the environment
  • Advanced materials and nanotechnology
  • Nanotribology
  • Materials science
  • Metallurgy
  • Tribology
  • Tribochemistry

Research activities

Our research focuses on the study friction, plasticity and wear at the nanoscale using atomic force microscopy (AFM). We investigate these problems using simple materials and determine the fundamental physical mechanisms by which they occur. By approaching these complex engineering problems at the atomic-length scale, we can reduce the complexity of the problems.

We are also able to take advantage of other modes of AFM to obtain true atomic resolution of surfaces. For example, the true atomic resolution of the (100) surface of potassium bromide (KBr). We can identify the high resolution capability of the AFM by observing single atomic vacancies at the surface. With these experiments, we hope to be able to predictively determine material parameters such as friction coefficients, plasticity/hardness and wear rates, which will be critical in the development of next generation materials and lubricants. for, example, when we image atomic stick-slip friction on an alkanethiol self-assembled monolayer grown on a Au(111) substrate, atomic lattice resolution is achieved. However, single atomic defects cannot be observed due to the "large" multi-atom contact between the AFM tip and the surface. Using AFM, we are able to resolve forces much less than 1 nN, which approaches the strength of single atomic bonds.


Philip Egberts obtained his PhD from the McGill University in Montreal, Canada, specializing in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics in 2011, while completing most of his research at the INM-Leibniz Institute for New Materials in Saarbr├╝cken, Germany. Following his PhD studies, he joined the Carpick Research Group in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics department at the University of Pennsylvania as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF).

He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering starting in September 2013. In July 2015, he was appointed as Associate Head Graduate Studies in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and became Associate Professor in 2018.

His current focus is on the atomic and nanoscale investigation of adhesion, friction and wear with the goal of making physical and predictive models of friction and wear. More recently, he has been expanding his research topics to include engineering tribology, to improve surface engineering for automotive applications and examine lubrication mechanisms for drilling in the oil and gas industry.