PhD Studentship in Fluid or Solid

University of Southampton School of Engineering

United Kingdom

PhD Studentship in Fluid or Solid: Towards Material Properties of Jammed Granular Suspensions

School of Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1268920DA

Supervisory Team:    Dr Ivo R Peters and Dr Madhusudhan B N Murthy

Project description

Background: Dense granular suspensions, a concentrated mixture of particles in a fluid, can switch from a fluid-like to a solid-like (“jammed”) state, depending on the stress applied to it. These transitions play a role in many natural phenomena and industrial processes, often resulting in unwanted behaviours.

In industrial processing of suspensions, a material turning solid-like when it is required to flow is a common challenge. Gaining control over these transitions opens up opportunities to exploit these transitions for novel applications in, for example, additive manufacturing or impact resistant materials. Seafloor sediments, on the other hand are transiting between dense liquid to solid phase near surface and during long run-out submarine slope failures. The stress conditions and internal structure during this switching can help us better understand the impact of submarine slides and design offshore structure such as offshore wind foundations.  

Challenges: Basic knowledge about the properties of suspensions in a jammed state is still lacking. The state of the material, and consequently the material properties, depend on the dynamics. To overcome this, non-intrusive measurement methods are required that work independently from the mechanism that puts the suspension in the desired state. In addition, experimental methods to generate jammed states suffer severely from a lack reproducibility due to history dependence. Methods to investigate and control the deformation history are required to achieve reproducible results.

Objectives: In this project you will start by investigating experimental methods to generate jammed states in suspensions in a reproducible manner. Primary methods will rely on shear-activated jamming and confinement-activated jamming. For shear-activated jamming, a rheometer can be used or table-top experimental setups. Confinement can be controlled dynamically in a geotechnical centrifuge. The following stage of the project will focus on measuring the material properties of the suspension in the jammed state and during transition. Instrumented indentation, resistivity and shear-wave characterization will be the primary methods to characterise the internal structure of the materials.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Ivo Peters, Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics Research Group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 4643.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Eng & Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Ivo Peters under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

In your application, please refer to