Topological and structural science

Many biologically and technologically important materials ranging from oil-bearing rocks to printing paper have a highly intricate structure involving interconnected labyrinths of pores. The School has several research programs studying the flow properties of these disordered porous media. Improved understanding of the physics of such processes has applications ranging from the petrochemical industries to the design of bubble jet printer inks and papers. The School is a major partner in the CRC for Functional Communication Surfaces. A strong theoretical team and novel experimental facilities such as ultra high resolution computed tomography come together to make the School a leader in this area.

RSPE also undertakes research aimed at understanding the enigmatic processes of long range ordering and self assembly, which for example, enables animals like the sea urchin to construct a skeleton out of polycrystalline elements which collectively exhibit some single crystal properties. Biomineralisation has also many potential commercial applications such as the production of low temperature super ceramics as well as wider scientific implications such as the search for Martian life.

Selected research highlights

Related departments

Potential student research projects

You could be doing your own research into fusion and plasma confinement. Below are some examples of student physics research projects available in RSPE.

Please browse our full list of available physics research projects to find a project that interests you.

A variety of projects are available that will contribute to the enumeration and characterisation of 3-periodic network structures via the tiling of periodic minimal surfaces and thereby enhance our understanding of self-assembled structures in nature.

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This project employs an integrated experimental and analytical approach to interrogate granular materials (e.g., soil, sand and sedimentary rocks, powder, colloidal systems, coal, snow etc.).  The experimental part, undertaken at ANU, involves the accurate experimental measurement and 3D visualisation of contact forces at the contacts between particles. The analytical part, undertaken at UoM, focuses on “mining” hidden patterns in the experimental data, using new tools from mathematics and statistics of complex systems.

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What is a granular material from geometry and physics perspective? We'll try to understand the fundementals of granular materials in this project.

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"Phantoms" are objects used for performance testing and/or calibration of 3D X-ray computed tomography (CT) systems. This project involves designing, 3D printing, and subsequently imaging phantoms at the micro-CT facility of the Applied Maths department.

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Updated:  15 June 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster