Soft materials surround us and compose us. Biological functions rely on active components embedded in soft biological matter. For example, muscles move because molecular motors convert chemical energy into work. Recently, a research area has emerged to understand the fundamental laws governing active materials by embedding energy-consuming components into solid structures and fluids. The broad goal is to design a new class of biomimetic materials that can move, and which sit at the intersection of materials science and soft robotics.
The unique characteristics of active matter, such as spontaneous flow, the ability to extract work, and broken time-reversal symmetry, can lead to materials with exotic mechanical properties. This project will specifically look at functionalising active matter by translating fundamental physical concepts into useful materials properties.
The PhD student will be embedded in the Souslov lab, which is generally interested in modelling the mechanics of soft materials and designing new states of matter. More specifically, our interests include flow and patterns in active materials, topological states of soft matter, and polymer physics in the context of biological materials. In addition to modelling naturally occurring soft matter, we also design new structures called mechanical metamaterials using patterns on scales from nanometres to the macroscopic. This research will be underpinned by close international collaborations across theory and experiment with leading research groups in the UK, Europe, and the U.S. The University of Bath is a top UK university with a reputation for research excellence and a vibrant environment in soft matter research across several departments and interdepartmental research centres.