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Kenneth Holmberg

Current position at VTT

Research Professor (Machine operability – tribology, condition monitoring and diagnostics)

Research background and current research topics

His current research focus is on tribology, surface coatings, wear modelling and simulation, biotribology and e-maintenance.

He started tribology research in 1978 with investigations on boundary lubrication effects of macrotextured surfaces in sliding and rolling contacts. It was followed by investigations of wear of steel and ceramic surfaces as well as wear particle monitoring. The last twenty years he has intensively studied the friction and wear mechanisms of surfaces coated by very thin, about one micrometre thick ceramic surface coatings such as physical and chemical vapour deposited surfaces. His research group presented a structure to classify the friction and wear mechanisms of thin coatings on different scale levels from nano to macroscale.

They combined fracture mechanics, FEM modelling and tribology contact mechanism analysis to successfully model TiN, DLC and MoS2 coated steel surfaces, simulated the stress and strain pattern, investigated different surface parameter effects and published a generic wear equation. The present focus is to study composite coated surfaces by multiscale modelling techniques in a number of projects connected to industrial R&D challenges. He is presently coordinating the strategic computational materials modelling and simulation research.

Simultaneously he has been involved in machinery condition monitoring, diagnostic and prognostic research. Recently he coordinated a large European research team that developed and demonstrated in industrial environment the pioneering e-maintenance concept DynaWeb. 

He has authored and edited several books, given 41 invited keynote lectures at international conferences and published more than 170 scientific papers.

Current major research projects at VTT

- 2010-2014, DEMAPP project (Demanding Applications in Material Research, Finnish joint industrial consortium strategic research action coordinated by FIMECC Ltd), containing 13 partners from industry and academia, 5.6 M€, project coordinator

MOTRICOT (Model based tribologically optimised thick multimaterial coated surfaces)
- 2009-2011, MATERA project, containing 6 partners from Finland and Belgium, 1 M€, project manger

DYNAMITE (Dynamic Decisions in Maintenace)
- 2005-2009, EU 6th FP Integrated Project, containing 6 research institutes and universities and 11 companies from 9 European countries, 6 M€, chairman of the Steering Committee and project coordinator

COST 532 (Triboscience and Tribotechnology - Superior Friction and Wear Control in Engines and Transmissions)
- 2002-2008, EU supported COST programme containing 42 research projects from 30 countries, 58 research institutes and 103 companies, 12 M€, chairman of the Management Committee and programme coordinator


Doctor of Technology, 1984, Helsinki University of Technology with thesis on "Friction in slow speed lubricated sliding and rolling contacts"

Licentiate of Technology, 1984, Helsinki University of Technology with thesis on "Elastohydrodynamic lubrication and its applications on machine elements"

MSc (Mech. Eng.), 1976, Helsinki University of Technology

Work history

From 1980 onwards at VTT with different positions (Research Professor, Deputy Research Director, Research Manager, Head of Section, Senior Research Scientist, Scientist).

From 2003 onwards at The Supreme Administrative Court in Finland, Chief Engineer Counselor.

2005, 2006 and 2007, Sheffield University, UK, invited visiting professor.

2002, Ecole Centrale de Lyon, France, invited visiting professor.

1987-88, Helsinki University of Technology, Laboratory of Machine Design, acting professor and head of the laboratory.

1979-1980, Chalmers University of Technology, Laboratory of Machine Elements, Gothenburg, Sweden, visiting research scientist.

1975-79, Helsinki University of Technology, Laboratory of Machine Design, teaching assistant and laboratory engineer.

Positions of trust and professional assignments

Vice president of the International Tribology Council, 1988-

Fellow of the Academies of Technology in Finland, 1988-, Vice President 1997-2001

Member of the Steering Board of Leonardo Centre of Tribology and Surface Technology at the Sheffield University, UK, 2008-

Member of Board of Directors of the Taiho Kogyo Tribology Research Foundation, Japan, 2008-

President for the International Group on Wear of Materials under the Sponsorship of OECD, 1993-2006.

Selected publications

  1. 2012, Holmberg K & Laukkanen A, Wear models. In: Bruce R (ed.) Handbook on Lubrication and Tribology, Vol. II Theory and Design, 2nd edition, Chapter 13, CRC Press, New York, 13:1-21
  2. 2012, Holmberg K & Matthews A, PVD and CVD coatings. In: Encyclopaedia of Tribology. Chung YW (ed.), Springer Verlag, New York, USA
  3. 2012, Holmberg K, Andersson A & Erdemir A, Global energy consumption due to friction in passenger cars. Tribology International 47 (2012) 221-234
  4. 2011, Ahlroos T, Hakala T, Helle A, Linder M, Holmberg K, Mahlberg R, Laaksonen P & Varjus S, Biomimetic approach to water lubrication with bimolecular additives. Proc. Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J, Journal of Engineering Tribology 225 (2011) 10, 1013-1022
  5. 2010, Holmberg K, Adgar A, Arnaiz A, Jantunen E, Mascolo J & Mekid S (Eds), E-maintenance. Springer Verlag, New York, USA, 511 p.
  6. 2009, Holmberg K & Matthews A, Coatings tribology - properties, mechanisms, techniques and applications in surface engineering. Tribology and Interface Engineering Series No. 56, Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 560 p.

Kenneth Holmbergt's publications in VTT Publications Register


  • Finnish Maintenance Society, Gold Medal of Honour, 2004
  • Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in Finland, Gold Medal of Honour, 2001
  • Finnish Society for Tribology, Honorary Member (Fellow), 1997
  • European Federation of National Maintenance Societies, Euromaintenance Award, 1990
  • VTT scholarship as a recognition of valuable effort to develop research activities, 1987

Additional information

Kenneth Holmberg
Research Professor
+358 20 722 5370

Additional information

Kenneth Holmberg
Research Professor
+358 20 722 5370