PhD Studentship: Green's function modelling of optically active nanoparticles embedded in soft matt

PhD Studentship: Green’s function modelling of optically active nanoparticles embedded in soft matter.

Engineering & the Environment

Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date:  Wednesday 17 January 2018

Reference: 827617F2

Project Reference: NGCM-0101

The interaction of light with very small particles is a treasure trove of surprises. The classical example is the Lycurgus cup [1]: gold nanoparticles embedded in the glass make it look green in reflected light, but red when the light shines through it. Modern examples include surfaces covered with small (70nm) cubes that have very sharp and deep absorption lines, making them perfect absorbers for some colours [2]. Even for an individual particle, the effects can be significant [3]. Such beautiful examples can be demonstrated experimentally, but typically require complex and expensive cleanroom techniques. A much more elegant alternative is to use soft, organic materials to mediate the organisation of particles and their response to light. Such research is still at a preliminary stage, partly because of the lack of suitable models to guide the fabrication. Indeed, it is intriguing that the simplest systems to build, i.e. random assemblies of particles, are the hardest to model and in practice beyond current algorithms.

The first questions to ask are: Can we achieve a narrow and tunable resonance/interaction by changing the medium around particles, e.g. using surfactants, polymers or liquid crystals? Can we model collections of many particles?

In this project, we will address these challenges by designing new computational models for both single and many particle simulations using Green’s functions methods developed by our collaborators at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. These solve the interaction of light with matter by reducing it to an integral equation on the surface of the particle. The lower dimensionality of the problem makes it not only computationally efficient, but also identifies the modes of the field, i.e. special solutions of the electromagnetic equations, that dominate the interaction. This is key to simulate large assemblies of particles. We will aim to extend the Green’s function methods to include soft matter, write a computational development and testing tool and validate it against other techniques and experiments that will be carried out independently in Physics and Astronomy. The tool will be released as open source for the benefit of researchers in nano-structured materials in academia and industry.

We are looking for an applicant with a background in physics, mathematics, engineering, or computer science, and an appetite to learn and research across conventional discipline boundaries.

The stipend is at the standard EPSRC levels. More details on facilities and computing equipment are available

To apply please visit,




If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Giampaolo D’Alessandro, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 598345

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see;=2652

For a details of available projects click here

To apply please visit

Further details:

  • Job Description and Person Specification