Research in fluid dynamics and soft matter
Our group does experimental research in the fields of fluid dynamics and soft matter, addressing a variety of problems ranging from fundamental physics to engineering applications for the benefit of society. The majority of processes in natural and engineered systems result from interactions between many particles of basic fluids and granular materials such as water and sand. Despite the fact that these systems consist of classical materials with simple fundamental interactions, they can produce complex phenomena because there are many degrees of freedom which can interact to produce non-linear effects and emergent phenomena, including dynamical instabilities, pattern formation, and emergent coherent structures. Such complex dynamical systems include planetary dynamos, plate tectonics, climate, weather, heating and cooling systems, and flow and processing of complex fluids. By studying the fundamental physics behind these processes, we hope to develop simple models to better predict their behavior and design materials with properties tuned for specific applications.
Our current research is focused in the following areas:
1. Development of low-dimensional models for coherent structures in turbulence that can efficiently solve a wide variety of problems with applications ranging from climate and weather to heating and cooling systems.
2. Demonstration of a fluid dynamo in the laboratory using suspensions of magnetic particles in liquid-metals, to understand the origin and dynamics of planetary and stellar magnetic fields and other magnetohydrodynamic phenomena.
3. Understanding some of the more dramatic and unusual mechanical properties of suspensions and granular materials, such as shear thickening and jamming, and design such materials with properties tuned for specific applications.
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