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The physics of microgels and other soft colloids


Contact Dr. Johan Mattson to discuss this project further informally.


Project description

Transitions where a material goes from a fluid state to an arrested but still disordered state arise in a diverse range of systems (colloidal dispersions, molecular or polymeric fluids, granular systems, emulsions, foams, pastes, and biological cells). Colloidal dispersions made from ‘soft’ elastic microgels provide an excellent model system for such behaviour and are also industrially highly important. Microgels are used in applications including biosensing and medical diagnostics, in pharmaceutical delivery systems and switchable materials and are regularly used to control the rheological properties of industrial products such as paints, motor oils, foods, cosmetics and inks. Many applications of microgels are based on highly crowded states, but we presently have little understanding of the rich and fascinating behaviour that takes place in the packing of such soft colloids.

This project is aimed at directly addressing key fundamental aspects of the physics of microgel dispersions where important open questions include how the motions of the microgel particles are correlated in time and space, how the motions, arrangements and rheology are affected by the individual microgel particle shape, elasticity (heterogeneity) and by the inter-particle interactions. An important component of the project is the use of the 3D-photon correlation light scattering set-up in Leeds, which will be combined with other light scattering techniques, microscopy and rheology as well as colloidal synthesis techniques to provide a full characterisation and control of these experimental systems

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with, or expecting, a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1) in a relevant discipline, a Master's degree in a relevant discipline, or both.

Additional staff contact

Prof. Brent Murray (Food Science), Olivier Cayre (Chemical Engineering)

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is 'The physics of microgels and other soft colloids' as well as Dr. Johan Mattson as your proposed supervisor.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates.  All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.