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Fluctuating Hydrodynamics for Liquid Spreading over Heterogeneous Surfaces

Supervisors: Dr James Sprittles (Mathematics) and Prof. Duncan Lockerby (Engineering)

Understanding the spreading of liquids over heterogeneous solid surfaces is the key to numerous emerging technologies (e.g. 3D ‘metaljet’ printing) and biological systems (retention of rain by leaves). The most remarkable feature of the wetting process is its inherently multiscale nature: nanoscale effects have consequences across the scales, right up to engineering ones. This feature renders the system physically rich, but a theory connecting across the scales remains absent. This project will overcome such issues by developing the first stochastic computational model capable of simultaneously (a) capturing the nanoscale fluctuations that allow molecules to ‘hop’ over heterogeneous surfaces and (b) making experimental scale predictions. Nanoscale predictions will be benchmarked against molecular dynamics, in collaboration with our partners LPSI in Mons.

The chosen PhD student will also be incorporated into our interdisciplinary Micro & Nano Flows group at Warwick whose research on related stochastic nanoflows has resulted in recent high profile publications in Physical Review Letters and the Journal of Fluid Mechanics (featuring on the Front Page).