The physics and engineering of flowing suspensions

Suspensions of particles in liquid are found throughout nature and industry, for instance slurries, chocolate, toothpaste, and ceramics. Understanding their flow properties is crucial to characterising engineering processes and describing the natural world. We are just beginning to unravel the dramatic influence that stress-controlled particle-particle interactions have on the flow behaviour when the liquid is Newtonian and the particles are hard, spherical and roughly monosized [1]. In reality these conditions are rarely met: particles are usually irregular, being elongated and having a broad size distribution, while suspending liquids are often ‘viscoelastic’. A crucial scientific question is: how do the combined microphysics of these particle-level details control the resulting flow behaviour? For the Industrial partner on this project (a large agricultural science and technology company), answering this question is key to processes of reactive crystallisation, droplet drying and crop protection.

  • You will address this question using predominantly computational means, developing expertise in particle-based simulation, high performance computing, and data analysis;
  • You will become an expert in rheological characterisation of complex fluids;
  • Building upon codes developed in Edinburgh, you will implement particle-shape models to simulate bulk flow of suspensions of elongated particles.
  • You will develop post-processing techniques to generate viscosity and microstructural measurements;
  • Your work will improve our fundamental understanding and guide constitutive model development.
  • You will gain real-world experience by collaborating with our Industrial partners on a contemporary engineering challenge.

This computational project is supervised by Dr Chris Ness (School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh) and by our Industrial collaborators who are based in Reading and in Zurich. It will involve regular interaction with experimentalists from academia and industry. Interested candidates may contact the supervisor for further information (

[1] Ness, Christopher, Ryohei Seto, and Romain Mari. The physics of dense suspensions, Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics 2022, 13:97-117

Further Information:


The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:

Closing Date: 

Saturday, February 10, 2024
Figure 1 Simulation of a dense suspension of (a) spheres; (b) 'composite' rods; (c) ellipsoidal particles

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 



Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

Applications are particularly welcome from candidates expecting to receive a first class degree in chemical engineering, physics, applied mathematics or a closely related subject


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

This project is funded in part by our Industrial partner. Competition (EPSRC) funding may be available for an exceptional candidate but please note you must be a UK student or an EU student who has lived in the UK 3+ years. 

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: