Postgraduate research opportunities Soft Matter with Nematic and Magnetic Order: Models, Simulations and Applications


Key facts

  • Opens: Thursday 20 January 2022
  • Deadline: Friday 30 September 2022
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Funding: Home fee, Stipend


Soft Matter is a broad umbrella term for easily deformable materials that are susceptible to external stimulus. In this project, we focus on soft materials with both orientational/nematic order and magnetic order, and study how the two types of order interact with each other to stabilise exotic morphologies. We use analytic and numerical methods to explore these soft matter systems theoretically and hope to propose new experimental systems for tailor-made applications.
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A bachelor’s degree (upper second-class honours or higher) in Mathematics. Applicants should have some experience with partial differential equations, advanced calculus, mechanics, numerical methods and ideally some knowledge of basic coding in any programming language e.g. MATLAB.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Nematic liquid crystals (NLCs) are classical examples of materials that are intermediate between conventional solids and liquids. NLCs are directional materials with preferred directions of the averaged molecular alignment. NLCs have direction-dependent responses to external electric fields and light, making them the working material of choice for a range of electro-optic applications, notably the thriving liquid crystal display industry. However, NLCs have weak responses to external magnetic fields, so that magnetic fields are not widely used for NLC-based applications. In the 1970’s, de Gennes and Prost, Rault, Cladis and Burger undertook pioneering experimental and theoretical work on ferronematics – suspensions of magnetic (nano)particles in a nematic host. The magnetic (nano)particles induce a spontaneous magnetisation and consequently, ferronematics have much stronger responses to external magnetic fields compared to conventional NLCs. Experimental research in ferronematics is booming, driven by the need to understand the fundamental physics of ferronematics and how we can model ferronematics and their potential applications in photonics and new materials technologies.

In this project, we will develop new mathematical models for ferronematics to account for both the nematic and magnetic order, and how they couple to each other. We will also develop new numerical methods for ferronematic systems and analyse the numerical schemes, including error and convergence analysis. We will apply the mathematical models and numerical schemes to study the experimentally observable states in prototype ferronematics and how we can switch between them, with a long-term goal of designing and controlling ferronematic systems for tailor-made applications.

Further information

The student will join the Majumdar research group. More details about the Majumdar research group can be found on the Majumdar research group website and Professor Apala Majumdar's staff page.

More generally, the student will also be part of the Continuum Mechanics and Industrial Mathematics Research Group at the University of Strathclyde. This is a vibrant research group with several faculty members working on liquid crystals, continuum mechanics and fluid mechanics.

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Funding details

The studentship covers home fees and stipend. All candidates are eligible, but international candidates would need to pay the fees difference between Home and Overseas rates.

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Professor Apala Majumdar

Mathematics and Statistics

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Dr Michele Ruggeri

Strathclyde Chancellor's Fellow
Mathematics and Statistics

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Number of places: 1

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Mathematics and Statistics - Mathematics

Programme: Mathematics and Statistics - Mathematics

Start date: Oct 2022 - Sep 2023

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Contact us

Please contact Apala Majumdar ( and Michele Ruggeri ( and send your CV with a brief statement of interest.