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  Nuclear Pasta and Neutron Star Dynamics

   Department of Physics

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  Dr David Tsang, Dr Hendrik Van Eerten  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project based in the Astrophysics Group within the Department of Physics and supervised by Dr David Tsang (lead supervisor) and Dr Hendrik Van Eerten (co-supervisor).


30 September 2024.

An earlier start date may be possible in agreement with the lead supervisor.


Neutron star matter is the most extreme matter in the universe. It experiences the highest density, strongest gravity, and highest magnetic fields of any known substance. A neutron star has a solid crust, and a (super)fluid core. In between these is a transition region where the size of the lattice of nuclei becomes comparable to the size scale of the nuclei themselves. Here meso-scale structures of nuclear clusters can emerge ­– so-called nuclear pasta – which exist in a glassy frustrated equilibrium [1] and can form into thin spaghetti-like strands or flat lasagna-like sheets. The macroscopic material properties of nuclear pasta are currently unknown. It plays a role in thermal, electric, and momentum transport, mediating exchanges between the core and crust, and thus is important for determining the dynamical properties of neutron stars and their observables, including asteroseismology [2], cooling, and pulsar timing.

In this project you will work in the Theoretical Astrophysics group led by Dr. David Tsang at the University of Bath, along with an international team of researchers to study nuclear pasta properties using a variety of computational and theoretical techniques. These include Hartree-Fock methods for calculating the equilibrium structure of nuclear pasta, Lattice-Boltzmann simulations for calculating the dynamical response of such materials, and soft-matter physics techniques for determining the macroscopic material properties of mesoscale structures. These results will be incorporated into calculations of neutron star observables including Resonant Shattering Flares, neutron star cooling curves, superfluid glitch theory, gravitational-waves and asteroseismology of binary mergers.

This theoretical project will expose you to physics from several disciplines: nuclear theory, soft-matter physics, neutron star astrophysics, and gravitational-wave astronomy. Those with experience or strong interest in any of these areas are highly encouraged to apply.

Project keywords: Neutron stars, gravitational-waves, nuclear physics, theoretical astrophysics, nuclear pasta, dense matter, soft-matter, computational physics.


Applicants should have a background in the physical sciences. They should have, or expect to gain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent from an overseas university. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.


Applicants are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor, Dr David Tsang (email: [Email Address Removed]) before applying to find out more about the project and to discuss their suitability for the role.

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Physics.


When completing the application form:

  1. In the Funding your studies section, select ‘STFC’ as the studentship for which you are applying.
  2. In the Your PhD project section, quote the project title of this project and the name of the lead supervisor in the appropriate boxes. 
  3. Should you wish to apply for more than one project at Bath, you may do so within the same application but you should ensure you quote each project title (and the name of the lead supervisor) in order or preference in the appropriate boxes within the Your PhD project section and, IMPORTANTLY, you should upload a separate (clearly labelled) personal statement for each one, outlining your interest and suitability for that particular project. 

Failure to complete the above steps will cause delays in processing your application and may cause you to miss the deadline.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.


We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

Physics (29)

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project may be considered for a 3.5-year studentship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Funding covers Home tuition fees, stipend (£18,622 per annum, 2023/24 rate) and an allowance for research expenses and conference attendance. International candidates may be considered for a University fee waiver scholarship equal to the difference between the Home and Overseas tuition fee rates for the duration of the STFC studentship. In addition, applications from self-funded students are always welcome.


[1] Newton et al 2022, Phys. Rev. C, 105, 2, 025806
[2] Neill et al 2023, Phys. Rev. Lett., 130, 11, 112701

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