A 4-year PhD position
is available in the Departments of Physics and Materials.
This position is fully-funded for UK/EU students.
Elastomers (e.g., natural rubber) are a very versatile class of materials. Their diversity of technological application is made possible by the ability to tune their constituent building blocks at multiple length-scales, from the chemical groups within individual monomers, to the molecular architecture of each polymer chain, to their overall morphology on the mesoscale and beyond.
An important use of elastomers is in seals for mechanical components. Ideally, such seals should act as impermeable barriers to gases and liquids in order to avoid contamination and damage to equipment (e.g., via corrosion). Understanding and predicting the structure and permeation of molecules through elastomer seals is, therefore, not only one of the most significant scientific challenges in materials theory and simulation, but also of great technological value.
This project is a close collaboration with researchers at Baker Hughes (www.bakerhughes.com). The goal is to take steps towards developing a predictive model of elastomers in order to better understand, and hence predict, their structure, their porosity and the transport of molecular species through them with a view to elucidating general design principles that will inform the development of higher performance materials. While the theoretical and simulation tools that will be developed will be generally applicable, the project will focus on a particular fluoroelastomer that is commonly used in seal technology (including, for example, in SCUBA diving equipment), and on the transport of CO2 and H2O through it. The inherent multi-scale nature of the problem will necessitate the use and development of a spectrum of simulation tools, from Monte Carlo simulations of the overall morphology, to molecular dynamics and coarse-grained molecular dynamics at the nano- to mesoscale, to first-principles quantum mechanical calculations of specific chemical interactions.
The project is supervised by Dr Arash Mostofi and Prof Adrian Sutton FRS at Imperial College London. The successful candidate will be part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Theory and Simulation of Materials and the Thomas Young Centre (TYC), the London Centre for Theory and Simulation of Materials, and will have opportunities to visit Baker Hughes' Houston Technology Centre, Texas USA.
Applicants should have, or expect expect to obtain, a first class undergraduate degree in physics, or a related subject. An aptitude for theory and simulation is essential. Some proficiency in a high-level programming language such as Fortran or C is desirable but not essential.
Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. For further information, please contact Dr Arash Mostofi (firstname.lastname@example.org).
 An elastomer based on a copolymer of vinylidene fluoride and hexafluoropropylene [Wikipedia article].
Posted 1st October 2012 | Back to home