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Gelation in suspensions and porous materials with complex interactions

Many porous materials and ‘soft’ solids consist of gels of particles. The project will use computer modelling to analyse how particles with complex interactions aggregate to form solid gels. Applications include porous adsorbents, ‘smart’ rheological materials, foods and biomaterials.

Number of places



12 February 2018


3 years


Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.

Project Details

Porous materials are important for applications such as adsorbing and storing gases, cleaning water and soils, sensor devices and many others. ‘Soft’ solids are common in foods, cosmetics, ‘personal care’ products and biomaterials. These materials often consist of particles (with size from nanometres to microns or larger) that interact to form solid networks or gels, with complex structure at scales much larger than the particle size. Manufacture involves a process of phase separation or aggregation of the particle phase in a solvent, to form growing clusters that ultimately fill the entire system and can transmit forces through their interparticle bonds, i.e. they form a solid-like gel. How the structure of the gel and the kinetics of its growth depend on the interparticle interaction is not well understood, limiting our ability to design gels with bespoke requirements for e.g. pore size distributions, flow behaviour, yield stress, permeability and so on.

The project will use computer simulations of the growth process from particle suspension to gel, exploring systematically how different interactions (attractions and repulsions of different strengths at different length scales) determine structure and kinetics. Various structural measures will be explored such as using Voronoi statistics to characterise void space and using scattering functions to compare with experiments. The project requires some experience in, or aptitude for and readiness to learn, computer programming and simulation.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Funding Details

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates will be eligible to be considered for a University scholarship.

Contact us

Ms Jacqueline Brown

+44(0) 141 574 5319

James Weir Building, 75 Montrose Street, Glasgow, G1 1XJ

How to apply

Apply for this PhD project here.

Please quote the project title in your application.