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EngD Studentship Opportunity in Understanding the Influence of Nanoscale Interactions on the Macroscale Rheological Properties of Complex Fluids

University of Surrey

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cambridge
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £20,000 circa. stipend
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 29th April 2019
Closes: 30th August 2019

Studentship description

Complex fluids containing suspensions of colloidal particles are critical to a wide variety of industrial processes. Such complex fluids are used extensively in the petroleum industry, for well construction (drilling fluids, cements) and oil recovery (aqueous polymer and surfactant solutions). Prediction and control of the non-Newtonian rheological properties of these fluids, such as gel strength and ability to suspend non-colloid particles, is essential for successful operations. These macroscopic rheological properties are governed by the nanoscale interactions between the colloidal particles that result in phenomena such as shear banding and viscoelasticity. These properties are challenging to measure in conventional rheometers and there is considerable industrial and academic interest in developing new characterisation methods. 

The aim of this project is to determine the microscopic length scales that control the macroscopic rheology using novel magnetic resonance imaging and optical light scattering techniques in combination with conventional tools. The connection between the measured length scales and macroscopic properties will be validated against existing models for non-Newtonian fluids and used to support new models being developed in parallel projects. Greater understanding of the hierarchy of relevant structural lengths from the nanoscale to the macroscale will enable the design of improved complex fluid formulations with predictable rheological properties. 

Schlumberger is an oilfield services company with a global footprint. Activities at the Cambridge centre focus on the development of new science and technology for well construction, with an emphasis on drilling and automation. The facilities available for this proposed project include a suite of low field magnetic resonance instruments, microscopy (optical and X-ray) platforms, conventional rheometers, and hydrodynamic flow experiments. A unique low field magnetic resonance rheometer will be a core technology, enabling the spatial variation of shear stress and non-colloidal particle migration to be visualised within complex fluids. The project will be supervised by Dr Jonathan Mitchell (magnetic resonance) and Dr Andrew Clarke (nanoscience). Support for aspects of the project related to conventional rheology, fluid chemistry, and modelling/simulation will be provided by other scientists and engineers at Schlumberger Cambridge Research. 

This project will start on the 30th September 2019 and will finish on the 30th September 2023. 

Entry requirements

Entry to the programme requires a First, an upper second or a merit at Masters in a physical sciences subject. UK and EU students are invited to apply. Internationals students are selected only at the Centre’s discretion and on availability of funding. Non-native speakers of English will be required to have IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent). 


A stipend of circa £20,000 with all fees met separately. Please see our website for background information View Website 

How to apply

All interested parties should in the first instance contact the Centre Manager, Noelle Hartley, by email for guidance on next steps

Closing date for applications

Applications accepted all year round

Application enquiries

Noelle Hartley, 01483 683467

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