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Modelling aerosols in an acoustic trap

Department of Physics

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship starting in Autumn 2021 as part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science.

Supervisory Team:

Dr Anton Souslov, Department of Physics, University of Bath
Prof Bruce Drinkwater, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bristol

Project Description:

Acoustic levitation involves using sound from a speaker (or transducer) to float particles. These particles are suspended mid-air and do not touch the walls, so that levitation could become an essential platform for experimentally observing and analysing aerosols. However, the mechanics of emergent many-particle structures inside of an acoustic trap has only recently begun to be explored. In this project, you will use a combination of numerical modelling of the acoustic field and fundamental theoretical tools to understand the forces inside of a trap that cause the particles to aggregate and move. You will then connect the emergent structures in an acoustic trap to naturally occurring aerosols and model how to make comparisons between these two different environments.

About the CDT in Aerosol Science:

Aerosol science is crucial to disciplines as broad ranging as transmission of disease, drug delivery to the lungs, climate change, energy and combustion science, novel materials, and consumer and agricultural products.

An aerosol is any collection of particles dispersed in a gas. The CDT brings together a multi-disciplinary team of 80 post-graduate students and academics from 7 UK universities spanning the physical, environmental and health sciences, and engineering. Our aim is to tackle the global challenges in which aerosol science is key.

Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science:

During your doctorate, you will learn to research in diverse multidisciplinary teams, gain an advanced understanding of the core physical science of aerosols, and collaborate with industrial and public sector partners, equipping you to undertake ground-breaking research in aerosol science.

During the first 7 months of your PhD, you will join the CDT cohort based at the University of Bristol. Core training in aerosol science, research methods, professionalism and translation will be delivered by Team Based Learning. You will then undertake a short research project at your home or partner institution before starting your PhD research. You will gain experience outside academia in a placement with an industrial/public sector partner in Year 2 or 3.

More Information and How to Apply:

Candidates who aspire to work in a multidisciplinary field and hold, or will achieve, a minimum of an upper second-class undergraduate degree in any of these areas are encouraged to apply: chemistry, physics, biological sciences, life and medical sciences, mathematics and computer science, chemical and mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical and environmental sciences.

Dr Anton Souslov () would be pleased to discuss this research project further with interested candidates.

Enquiries about the programme or the selection process should be addressed to the CAS Administrator on email address .

Formal applications should be submitted to CAS on their online application form:

Applications will close at 09:00 (GMT) on Monday 25 January 2021. Eligible applicants with a suitable academic background will be invited to attend an online recruitment and assessment day on Monday 1 February 2021. Applications after this date will be subject to remaining availability of studentships.

For further information, see

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We are committed to furthering issues of equality, diversity and inclusion and are keen to attract the most highly talented individuals from diverse backgrounds. Please see our website for further information on our commitment to equality and diversity.

Funding Notes

Studentships cover tuition fees at the ‘Home’ level, research/training costs and a stipend (£15,285 p.a., 2020/21 rate) for 4 years.

Candidates normally eligible for 'Home' fees are:
UK nationals*
Irish nationals living in the UK/Ireland
Those with settled or pre-settled* status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme
Those with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK

* must have lived in the UK/EEA/Switzerland continuously since September 2018.

International applicants, not eligible for ‘Home’ fees, may apply and will be considered for a limited number of fee discounts equivalent to the difference between the ‘Home' and ‘Overseas’ tuition fees.


1. M.X. Lim, A. Souslov, V. Vitelli, H.M. Jaeger. Cluster formation by acoustic forces and active fluctuations in levitated granular matter. Nature Physics 15, 460 (2019); B. Drinkwater. An ultrasonic shake-up. ibid.
2. T. Fushimi, T.L. Hill, A. Marzo, B.W. Drinkwater. Nonlinear trapping
stiffness of mid-air single-axis acoustic levitators. Appl. Phys. Lett. 113, 034102 (2018).

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