Large simulations of active matter

Large simulations of active matter

Supervisors: Kevin Stratford, Alex Morozov (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Project description:

A new type of soft condensed matter, called 'active matter', arises in biological systems which continually convert one form of energy into another. Examples include sub-cellular networks of filaments and motors (the 'cytoskeleton'); and suspensions of swimming bacteria. Each contains self-propelled particles which tend to form ordered phases (the analogues of liquid crystals in conventional, passive materials).

The goal of this PhD project is to develop novel numerical tools to address these fascinating materials. A possible framework for such development would be Dedalus [1]. The three main approaches include:

1) an agent-based algorithm combining discrete self-propelled particles and a spectral solver for the fluid velocity field;

2) a large-scale spectral technique to simulate stochastic evolution of the probability distribution function (PDF) describing simultaneously a large collection of micro-swimmers;

3) a stochastic Partial Differential Equation algorithm describing the time-evolution of the moments of the PDF from 2).

This PhD project offers exciting opportunities for a student interested simultaneously in developing new computational methods and performing large scale computer simulations relevant for modern non-equilibrium statistical physics.


Student Requirements:

  • A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as computer science and informatics, physics, mathematics, engineering, biology, chemistry and geosciences.
  • You must be a competent programmer in at least one of C, C++, Python, Fortran, or Java and should be familiar with mathematical concepts such as algebra, linear algebra and probability and statistics.
  • You must demonstrate a level of English language competency that will enable you to succeed in your studies (further information available here:

Desirable Skills and Experience

  • Some knowledge of statistic physics
  • Experience with numerical simulation and programming in python.


[1] See