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Research

The research activities of the Theoretical Physics Group are summarized on these pages. More details can be found by following the navigation links.

If you are interested in applying to do postgraduate research, details of possible projects on offer can be found by following the PhD+MSc Projects link.

If you are interested in applying for postdoctoral positions, follow the Positions Available link.

Other theoretical and computational research opportunities involving Physics staff may be found in the Surface, Interface and Thin Film Group, focusing on density functional theory calculations of surface atomic structures; in the Centre for Scientific Computing and the Complexity Doctoral Training Centre which both support a wide range of interdisciplinary research.

Classical Physics

We are studying the statistical physics of self-organising systems. Examples include fractal aggregates, polymer microstructures and protein folding, dynamics of fracture and granular and colloidal materials. Recent work has included the introduction of hydrodynamics into Monte Carlo simulations.

Computer simulations act as a bridge between experiment and theory. Starting from details of the molecular interactions the computer is used to simulate a system of molecules: to calculate bulk properties, structure, and dynamics at the microscopic level.

Physics is making profound contributions to the understanding of complex biological and chemical systems. The goal is to identify and understand universal aspects of the behaviour of such systems. We are employing techniques drawn from statistical and continuum mechanics to tackle problems involving both tethered and stacked fluid membranes as well as surface and interfacial phenomena in polymer systems.

Chaotic behaviour and turbulence are characteristic of systems with non-linear equations of motion, which recent developments, particularly in mathematics, are making increasingly accessible. There is work on the precursor instabilities to full turbulence in convective systems and plasmas, as well as more general time series analysis.

Quantum Physics

We are working on the theory of interacting electrons in condensed mater. We are developing ab-initio electronic structure theory beyond standard DFT to include the effects of strong electron correlations and finite temperatures e.g. to rare earth material properties. There are ongoing applications to spintronics, magnetic properties of heterostructures and nanoclusters, magnetocaloric and magnetic shape memory materials and also electrocaloric materials.

The quantum transport properties of low dimensional systems are an important branch of physics which has been driven by developments in the fabrication of structures, in which one or more dimension is of the order of the electronic de Broglie wavelength. We are interested in electrical and thermal conductivity, the quantum Hall effect, quantum size effects and the influence of phonons on electron transport. Here is Andrea Fischer's and Rudolf Roemer's podcast relating to one of our projects entitled What is a Quantum Doughnut?

The collective behaviour of condensed phases of many particles, such as Bose-condensed systems of cold atoms and composite bosons in semiconductors (excitons, polaritons), quantum Hall systems, and driven (non-equilibrium) systems, are of great conceptual and practical importance. In Fermi gases, noise in driven structures is related to entanglement and quantum information, and condensation can occur in systems driven far from equilibrium.