Physics projects for Y3 and Y4 students

Project description

Densest packing of hard ellipses in containers

(supervisor: Adil Mughal)

Nature of project: software, theory

Available to students on full-time physics degree schemes or joint students.

Project description and methodology

The problem of packing of objects with different geometrical shape attracted considerable amount of attention during the last few decades due to its application in modeling of granular materials, porous media, foams, polycrystalline structures and so on [1]. Most studies were carried out for the packing of uniform and arbitrary sized spheres. In this project the student will simulate the packing of ellipses in containers using either the package HOOMD-blue [2] or write the required code from scratch.

While there have been a number of previous studies that seek to understand the dense packing of ellipses in unbounded 2D space there is little understanding of how these packings are modified when the objects are confined within a container. The student will write code to simulate ellipse packing in various containers (e.g. rectangular domains, channels and circles) and compare with on-going experiments (a working knowledge of python is essential).

A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
The student will also have the opportunity to compare numerical results against experimental findings.

When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.

Additional scope or challenge if taken as a Year-4 project: These simulations are the basis for understanding materials which have interesting optical properties. As en extension of the project the student will be able to compute some of these anticipated optical effects using the package MEEP (see https://meep.readthedocs.io/en/latest/) - which will run on HPC Wales.

Please speak to Adil Mughal if you consider doing this project.

Initial literature for students:

  1. van Anders, Greg, et al.
  2. http://glotzerlab.engin.umich.edu/hoomd-blue/
  3. Delaney, G., et al.

Novelty, degree of difficulty and amount of assistance required

This project will feature a high level of numerical simulation and as such expertise with programming in python is essential.

Students will be given suitable training in building the code. The project is suitable for a 3rd year student with coding skills.

Project milestones and deliverables (including timescale)

milestoneto be completed by
Initial familiarisation with the simulation package hoomd-blueChristmas
Packing code up and runningend of February
Results from code producedmid-March
Analysis and comparison with experimentsEaster