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Modelling cross-linked fibre networks in flow

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Many industrial and biomedical materials consist of a fibrous solid phase immersed in a viscous fluid, e.g. the cellular cytoskeleton, tissue engineering scaffolds, medical filters, fibre reinforced materials etc. Modelling the flow of such composites provides the capability to rationally design new products and enhance our understanding of natural systems, thus, the time-dependent mechanical (viscoelastic) response of scaffolds controls stem cell differentiation, and the cytoskeleton propagates stress in moving cells. Our recent simulations demonstrated unexpected and potentially exploitable modalities in the viscoelastic response of fibre networks modelled as immersed spring networks. However, the coupling between the fluid and the fibre network in this model is not mathematically rigorous. Whilst a full numerical simulation would be prohibitively expensive, more rigorous frameworks exist (e.g. immersed boundary, slender body and regularised Stokeslet methods) for calculating the flow through immersed fibres. However, they cannot be immediately applied to networks as (a) the crosslinking of fibres has not been considered, and (b) networks can span the system. In this project, the student will develop a rigorous theoretical framework (through a combination of analytical and/or numerical approaches) for assemblies of crosslinked elastic fibres in viscous flow, generating predictions for linear viscoelasticity and more complex non-linear phenomena.

Funding Notes

This project is eligible for several funding opportunities. Please visit our website for further details.

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