PhD in Applied Physics at the University of South Florida: Fundamental Studies of Glassy Polymer Mechanics
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
About my approach to science: I am a soft matter physicist first. Many mechanical, dynamical and structural properties of materials remain poorly understood for reasons independent of system-specific chemistry. Great advances in understanding these properties can be achieved through coarse-grained and multiscale simulations that are computationally efficient enough to access experimentally accessible spatiotemporal scales yet «chemically» realistic enough to capture the essential physics underlying the properties under study. I have and will continue to concentrate on explaining poorly-understood behaviors of polymeric, colloidal, and nanocomposite systems through coarse-grained modeling and concomitant development of analytic theories. The general theme is to do basic research on topics that are of high practical interest. See http://labs.cas.usf.edu/softmattertheory/ for more information.
About the project: The available PhD project is a coherent program of simulations and analytic modeling that will significantly enhance the scientific community’s basic physical understanding of how the mechanical properties of polymer glasses relate to their microscopic interactions and mesoscale order. Simulations will systematically relate differences in mechanical response to differences in micro- and meso-structure by varying local chain stiffness, sample preparation protocol, temperature, and deformation history. Systems will be deformed to fracture to determine how these factors influence ultimate mechanical properties (e.g. ductility and toughness). The relatively low computational cost of the coarse-grained approach will be exploited to explore relevant parameter spaces far more broadly than is feasible for chemically detailed models. Analytic work will both complement the simulations and extend recently developed microphysics-based theories of polymer mechanics, through an iterative process wherein simulation uncovers problems with theories, the theories are improved as needed, and then used to make new predictions that will be tested by carefully designed followup simulations. This combined approach is designed to contribute maximally to the community’s long term goal of obtaining a level of physical understanding sufficient to develop predictive design principles for materials with tailorable mechanical response. Progress towards this goal will facilitate development of strong, lightweight structural plastics that can be used in applications ranging from automobiles to armaments, thus contributing to the growth of the $350+ billion dollar plastics industry. Note that the project will also provide the student broad training in soft condensed matter physics and computational science that will be applicable to a wide range of systems (not just polymers.)
How to apply: Please see the USF Physics website: http://physics.usf.edu/graduate/ for application instructions. The application deadline is February 1, 2018 for admission in Fall 2018. Also, please contact the PI via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this position or the program more generally.
PhD students in our program generally spend the first year taking courses and serving as teaching assistants. They join research groups the summer after the first academic year and then are funded as research assistants (if funding is available, as it is for this project.)