In the era of nanotechnology, we can design and engineer micro- and nanoparticles with non-trivial interactions – for example, asymmetric Janus particles. Such particles can interact and assemble in unconventional ways. Even conventional soft matter systems give rise to complex rheologies, gelation, and phase transitions, along with elegant theories such as percolation and reptation. This PhD forms part of a wider project with an ambitious goal: to design, make, and study forms of soft matter with new emergent properties.
The project will use theoretical and computational methods, working alongside experimentalists whose task is to fabricate and characterise interesting materials using their expertise in microfabrication, protein engineering, and surface chemistry. One theoretical goal will be to advance ‘conventional’ methods, and/or seminal models such as Vicsek et al.’s description of active matter, with the aid of many-body simulations. Also, molecular dynamics has been used to study the dynamics of individual Janus particles, and this can be extended to the collective behaviour of particles which self-orientate.
The project is based in the Department of Physics at the University of Auckland, supervised by Dr Geoff Willmott and Prof Shaun Hendy. This represents a collaboration between two of New Zealand’s Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs): The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology (www.macdiarmid.ac.nz), and Te Pūnaha Matatini (www.tepunahamatatini.ac.nz).
The student will be trained to use relevant simulation and data analysis tools. Beyond the project work, the University and CoREs provide many opportunities for development of auxiliary skills and knowledge. The project will be academically challenging, requiring applicants with a strong background in a physical sciences discipline and an excellent command of written and spoken English. Experience in relevant theoretical topics and computational methods (e.g. fluid mechanics, statistical mechanics, active matter, molecular dynamics) would be an advantage.
Review of applications is underway and will continue until the position is filled, with goal of commencing the project in early 2018. Applications should include a CV, academic transcripts, and a brief (1 page max) statement of research experience. Applicants must fulfil the University’s English language requirements (www.auckland.ac.nz/en/for/international-students/is-entry-requirements/is-english-language-requirements.html) and should provide the names of at least two people who can provide academic letters of reference.
The student will receive a stipend of $27,000 per annum in addition to course fees. Funding is provided by The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.