BPI Scholarships for a PhD in Fluid Flow or Surface Science

The BPI is delighted to announce 2 fully funded BPI Scholarships to fund PhD research for 3.5 years. These are open to candidates interested in fluid flow or surface science. Research in the BPI covers a broad range of problems in fluid science, ranging from volcanic eruptions, carbon sequestration, ice sheet motion and ocean mixing through to micro-encapsulation techniques, wetting, corrosion, numerical simulation of droplets and also flow in porous rocks.

Induced desorption of a strongly bound organic layer at the mineral/aqueous interface

The investigation of buried interfaces, such as the mineral/aqueous solution interface, is experimentally challenging. Neutron reflectometry is a well-established and non-invasive technique that allows behaviour at these interfaces to be measured, and a technique has been developed within the group to allow the surface of the mineral muscovite mica to be measured. This surface shows atomic flatness due to perfect cleavage along the basal plane, and is negatively charged in solution.

Casting dispersions

We show how droplets which comprise two solvents of different volatility can display an instability during drying. This can drive suspended solutes to the edge of the droplets and create a non-homogeneous final film.

Investigating adsorption of organic molecules at challenging metal/oil interfaces

Buried interfaces, pertinent to realistic environments such as those found in a car engine, are notoriously difficult to investigate due to the challenges of accessing information concerning the interface itself without being swamped by the much greater signal from the bulk materials; here, we describe the combination of a suite of sophisticated surface study techniques to characterise small molecules adsorbing at key metal surfaces from an oil phase.

Protein behaviour at biomaterial interfaces

adsorption on stainless steel surface

Understanding the structure and behaviour of proteins adsorbing at key biomaterial surfaces is both challenging but also critical to designing implants that interact favourably with the body. Here, we report the first use of the powerful surface analysis technique neutron reflectometry to characterise a stainless steel surface and the adsorption of key proteins found in the blood plasma thereupon.

Sticky Minerals

mica sheet on silicon block support

Figure illustrating the very thin mica sheet on the silicon block support. The Data shows the distinctive ‘double critical angle’ indicative of the mica/D2O interface (the two ‘steps’ at low Q) and the changes on adsorbing a layer of AOT at the mica surface, clearly evidence at high Q. using data such as this we can identify and structurally characterise the layers at the mica surface.

An inverse method for estimating thickness and volume with time of a thin CO2-filled layer at the Sleipner Field, North Sea

CO2 distribution within Layer 9

Migration of CO2 through storage reservoirs can be monitored using time lapse seismic reflection surveys. At the Sleipner Field, injected CO2 is distributed throughout nine layers within the reservoir. These layers are too thin to be seismically resolvable by direct measurement of the separation between reflections from the top and bottom of each layer. Here we develop and apply an inverse method for measuring thickness changes of the shallowest layer.

Halogen bonding in 2d physiosorbed systems

 monolayer structure of the 2-D cocrystal (tfib)(bipy)

Physiosorption of large molecules onto surfaces has been an area of longstanding interest for the Clarke group. Simple Van der Waals forces act to keep the molecules attached to the surface, while a variety of intermolecular interactions can lead to spontaneous self-assembly in the plane parallel to the surface. Confinement to two dimensions leads to novel phase behaviour, as well as allowing intermolecular interactions to be more easily characterised.

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