Background and activities

Nuria Espallargas (1979) is a Professor at the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. She has a MSc in Chemistry from University of Barcelona (Spain) and a PhD in Metallurgy and Materials Engineering from the same university.

She is also the NTNU leader of the Gemini Centre “Tribology” since 2011.

Research Interests

  • Surface chemistry and engineering.
  • Tribology and tribocorrosion.
  • Lubricants, including environmentally acceptable.
  • Nano-tribology.

I perform basic research on degradation phenomena of surfaces exposed to aggressive chemical environment. My research focuses on understanding the chemo-mechanical degradation phenomena starting on surfaces. This knowledge enables finding solutions to make more durable and performing materials, to contribute to a greener world.

I also perform reserach on developing new lubricant formulations for the green shift. To reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EAL) will be a requirement in many fields. In that sense, my background as chemist and tribologist enables the implementation and development of EALs for a greener future.

Controlling surface chemistry is the ultimate goal of my research. Surface chemistry plays a role both in lubricant formulation and degradations of materials, and it is key to add functionality to surfaces for finding new solutions to materials problems. Understanding the surface mechanisms and phenomena across scales (from nano-to-macro) is crucial to solve the degradation of materials to design and optimise surface solutions.

Main topics of my research projects

  • Tribocorrosion mechanisms - coatings and metals.
  • Multidegradation - the interaction of tribocorrosion with fatigue.
  • Experimental nano-tribology. 
  • Environmentally acceptable lubricants and water lubrication.
  • Coatings and surface treatments for tribocorrosive environments.
  • Synthesis and production of ceramic based feedstock materials for thermal spraying.

Work experience

  • 2019 – current: Research group leader (Materials) at the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, NTNU.
  • 2012 – current: Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, NTNU.
  • 2015 – 2016: Visiting Professor, Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology, Dept. of Materials, ETH, Zurich.
  • 2014 – 2018: CTO Seram Coatings AS.
  • 2009 – 2012: Associate Professor, Department of Engineering Design and Materials, NTNU.
  • 2009 – 2014: Scientific Advisor, SINTEF Materials and Chemistry.

Board/Editorial work

  • 2020 – current: Member of the Manufacturing Innovation Forum (MIF) of EiT Manufacturing.
  • 2019 – current: Portfolio board member of the Research Council of Norway (Enabling Technologies).
  • 2019 – current: Editorial board member and associate editor of the journal Friction (Springer Nature).
  • 2016 – 2020: Associate Editor of the Journal of Tribology (ASME).
  • 2015: Editor of the book “Future Development of Thermal Spray Coatings:   Types, Designs, Manufacture and Applications”. Woodhead Publishing Ltd (Elsevier). ISBN 9780857097699. doi:10.1016/B978-0-85709-769-9.09987-5.
  • 2015 – current: Editorial board of the journal Wear (Elsevier).
  • 2014 – current: Editorial board of the Journal of Bio- and Tribo-Corrosion (Springer Nature).
  • 2014 – current: Board member of Seram Coatings AS.


  • Finalist at the EU prize for Women Innovators (2019).
  • Winner of the Female entrepreneur 2017 (Norway).
  • Winner of the Young innovator award 2015 (Norway). To the best younger entrepreneur woman of Norway in 2015.
  • Nominated for the best communicator of NTNU at the “Kom Award NTNU 2015”.

Membership in Academic and Professional Organizations and Committees

  • 2022: Co-organizer of the "wear of materials” scientific theme at the 7th World Tribology Congress (Lyon, France).
  • 2019: Member of the International Scientific Committee for the International Conference ROTRIB.
  • 2018 – current: Member of the International Tribology Council. Norwegian representative.
  • 2016 – current: Member of the Working Party 18 (Tribocorrosion) of the European Corrosion Conference (EUROCORR).
  • 2013 – current: Member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Tribo-corrosion Conference organized by International TriboCorrosion Network.
  • 2013 – 2017:  Norwegian representative and member of the Management Committee of the COST network “Understanding and controlling nano and mesoscale friction” (MP3013). 
  • 2012 – current: Member of the International Advisory Board of International Tribology Symposium of the International Federation for the Promotion of Mechanism and Machine Science.
  • 2009 – current: Member of the Nordic Advisory Board of the Nordic Tribology Symposium (NordTrib).

Selected invited talks at international conferences/workshops

  • Since the start of the pandemic I have rejected many invited lectures due to a new personal policy of less travelling.
  • January 2020: TAE’20 – 22nd International Colloquium Tribology, Stuttgart, Germany. "Water lubrication – challenges and opportunities". 
  • August 2019: International Conference in Mechanical Engineering (ICOME 2019), Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 28-29 August 2019. “From tribocorrosion to water lubrication”. 
  • August 2019: PROSIN-konferansen 2019, Arendal and Grimstad, Norway, 12-13 August 2019. “Making possible the impossible – SiC for thermal spray”. 
  • October 2018: Molecular mechanisms in tribology, Beilstein nanotechnology symposium 2018, Postdam, Germany, 2-4 October 2018. “The Lubrication Mechanisms of Water-Based Fluids”.
  • September 2018: Norsk Industri 2018, Bodø, Norway, 26-27 September 2018. “How to make a difference in a 100-years old business”.
  • January 2018: TAE’18 –21st International Colloquium Tribology. 9-11 January 2018, Stuttgart, Germany. Key-note speaker: “Surface effects on friction and wear of stainless steels exposed to fatigue, corrosive and lubricated environment”.
  • June 2017: The Role of Universities in Innovation – Starmus Festival 2017, Trondheim, Norway, 18-23 June. “From research to innovation”.
  • March 2016: WE-Heraeus-Seminar: Mechanisms of Tribology. 29-March to 1-April, Bad Honnef, Germany. Invited speaker: “Effect of surface oxides on friction of metals and ceramic-metallic materials”.


Scientific, academic and artistic work

A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database

Journal publications