ERC funded PhD studentship in soft matter physics
Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in theoretical and computational soft condensed matter and biological physics to work with Prof. Suzanne Fielding in the Department of Physics at Durham University.
The studentship is funded by a grant from the European Research Council for a period of 42 months, covering tuition fees and a stipend matched to that of UKRI studentships (which is listed as £15,609 per year for the current academic year).
Depending on the interests of the applicant, the project could be mainly computational or could combine numerics with analytical work.
Its overall aims will be to understand the deformation and flow behaviour of so-called yield stress materials, which keep their shape like solids at low loads, yet flow like a liquid at larger loads. One possible focus could be on the dynamical process whereby a material in an initially solid-like state firsts yields and starts to flow, and in particular on the statistical physics of how initially sparse plastic events in an otherwise elastic background then spatio-temporally cooperate to result in an emergent macroscopic flow.
Besides the immediate applications of this work to soft matter physics, and potentially also to the fracture mechanics of hard materials, yielding also governs geological processes such as landslides, avalanches and lava flows. It also determines the reshaping of biological tissue under the internal stresses caused by cell division, including during embryo development or tumour growth. Depending on the interests of the candidate, the project could develop a more specific focus on any of these particular areas of research.
The work will draw on concepts of statistical physics, nonlinear dynamical systems theory, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics and related fields.
The start date is October 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. Because of the current situation regarding Covid-19, this date is flexible and open for discussion.
Applicants should have or expect to attain a good (first or upper second class) honours degree in physics, mathematics or a related subject.
Details on how to apply can be found here. (Please include the name of the project and S.F.’s name in the ‘Field of Study’ section of the application.)
Informal enquiries are welcome and should please be directed to [email protected]