Biological & Soft Systems rm.925 Rutherford Building Cavendish Laboratory JJ Thomson Avenue Cambridge CB3 0HE Tel. +44 (0)1223 337003 Fax. +44 (0)1223 337000
Queens' College BB46; Tel: (01223) 331934
Physics of Medicine Research labs opened in 2008
| Representative research topics are listed below.
My publications are accessible on the Thomson-Reuters (Web of Knowledge) ResearcherID link -- button on the right.
A fully-funded PhD studentship is available, for an experimental physicist/enginner, to start from October 2019.
The details of this position are in this advert, where there is a link where you could apply online.
The project title is: Active polymers for renewable functional actuators, funded by the ERC Advanced grant. The idea of mechanical actuator based on intrinsic material properties of liquid-crystalline elastomers (rather than complex engineering of interacting components) has been understood for 20+ years. Yet, there is a profound difficulty (bottleneck), which remains the reason why this concept has not found its way into any practical devices & applications: LCE actuation requires alignment of the local anisotropy in the permanently crosslinked polymer network - which has been impossible to achieve in any useful large-scale configuration except the flat film, due to the unavoidable restrictions of two competing processes: orientational alignment and network crosslinking.
Recently, we made a breakthrough, developing LCE vitrimers (polymer networks covalently crosslinked by a bond-exchange reaction). Vitrimers are much more stable than other transient elastomer networks, allow easy thermal re-moulding (making the material fully renewable), and permit moulding of complex shapes with intricate local alignment (which are impossible in traditional elastomers). This project will bridge from the concept to technology, tuning the material design for robust nematic LCE vitrimers, imparting photo-actuation capacity with a controlled wavelength, and finally utilising them in practical-engineering actuator applications where the reversible mechanical action is stimulated by light, solvent exposure, or more traditionally - heat.
A PDRA (postdoctoral researcher) position will also be available on this project, for an experienced experimental physicist/engineer, to start from October 2019. The position will be for 2 years in the first instance, and the official advert will appear probably after New Year.
With Mark Warner, we have written a monograph "Liquid Crystal Elastomers". From the book's website you could download the first Chapter, called "The Bird's Eye View", which is an overview of the new physics arising in this field; the Appendices of the paperback edition are also downloadable there. With David Weitz we have put together a volume: The Oxford Handbook of Soft Condensed Matter (here, I am afraid, the OUP didn't let us upload a PDF).
I am involved in a number of research projects in a broad area of soft condensed matter and biological physics. The list is long, and changing all the time depending on the current fashion, unexpected discovery, external collaboration, funding, or just a chance. However, a few areas are big enough and with a sufficiently long half-life:
My other interests in physics of polymers and liquid crystals mainly lie in topological defects, kinetic theory, fluid dynamics of l.c. colloids or filled l.c. polymers, as well as various issues of phase ordering, interactions, kinetics of mixtures and emulsions with a symmetry-broken component. Experimentally, we are studying the rheology of complex fluid systems, in particular, the response during phase transformations when new structures and internal constraints emerge in the system.
Several possible PhD projects are available at any given time, in all of the above research
areas and in all three directions (theory, experiment and chemical synthesis),
for the start in October (check the Cavendish rules for
but contact me first for preliminary discussions). Remember, the PhD applications need to be submitted no later than December-January (or earlier, if funding is not clear).
Part II - Soft Condensed Matter (ended 2017)
Part II - Thermal and Statistical Physics (ended 2012)
Part II - Theoretical Physics (TP1) (ended 2007)
Part III Minor Option - Polymers and Colloids (ended 2005)
Just in case you are wondering - we still live at 18 Hurrell Road, Cambridge CB4 3RH
This is now a site of Arbury Osteopathic Clinic, run by Helen