Particles and bacteria at slippery surfaces

Millions of tons of surfactant and aggressive chemicals are annually used to clean surfaces, bottles, storage-jars, or walls. Economic losses due to biofilm formation are estimated to be above 40 billion € per year in the shipping industry and account for 80% of microbial infections in the body. An important motivation behind developing slippery surfaces is for their anti-fouling properties: Deposited liquid or solid particles, bacteria or other microorganisms easily slide off as soon as the surface is tilted by a few degrees.

Typical swimming trajectories in a thin film for two different organism types.

The DPhil (= Oxford PhD) student will model the dynamics of particles and bacteria on the slippery surfaces and investigate the most efficient way to minimize friction and optimize contaminant removal. We shall ask what determines the adhesion of particles and microorganisms to gel- or lubricant impregnated surfaces? Does adhesion depend on the concentration of particulate matter, the viscosity of the lubricating film and its flow velocity? How do the swimming properties of the microorganisms affect adhesion? At Oxford we will concentrate on mesoscale modeling (lattice Boltzmann and stochastic rotation dynamics) and analytic approaches, with close interactions with molecular modelers and experimentalists in the LubISS network.

The position requires:

  • An interest in computational and theoretical physics.
  • Strong analytic ability, as evidenced by eg an excellent first degree in physics, mathematics or a related subject.
  • A willingness to contribute fully to the scientific interactions of the network.

For further information please contact:
Prof. Julia M Yeomans, j.yeomans1@physics.ox.ac.uk

Position closed