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Queen Mary University of LondonQueen Mary University of London
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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Controlling Droplet Impact and Penetration

Supervisors: Rafael CASTREJON-PITA

Application Deadline: 31-01-2020

In this PhD project we aim to expand our understanding of the physics of liquid droplet impact on to structured surfaces (including fabrics). The objective is to develop new ways to avoid liquid penetration within fabrics and/or force liquids to spread. Additionally, we also look at studying the impact of liquids on to other structured surfaces.  In specific, we aim to design, construct and test experimental rigs to carry out well-controlled experiments where the dynamics of liquid droplets impacting a variety of substrates are obtained by high-speed high-resolution imaging in terms of the substrate and droplets characteristics.

Fabrics are designed and manufactured not just for fashion but also to fulfil a series of practical requirements. Clothing should keep us warm in winter and cool in summer, and be breathable, flexible and soft to the skin. Protective clothing goes several steps further by adding safety features such as water resistance, radiation protection, and even impact defence. The use of fabrics in products is of course not restricted to clothing, as we find textiles elements in umbrellas, car soft roofs, camping tents materials and many other types of covers. Textile materials often include hydrophobic coatings aiming to repel water while maintaining breathability. Unfortunately, protective and functional elements do not often combine well in fabrics. Contrary to popular belief but confirmed by our recent studies; water repellence is not achieved by just adjusting the hydrophobic or surface properties alone, as sufficiently rapid drops penetrate a fabric regardless of the fabric surface properties.  In fact, the fabric’s pore size, the droplet diameter, and the speed of impact are all important parameters of liquid penetration.  Our studies have determined that droplet impact can also lead to bouncing or to the droplet remaining “captured” within the fabric structures. Indeed, the dynamics of impacting droplets are known to depend on substrate characteristics such as roughness, heterogeneities, and chemistry, and on the liquid properties at the relevant microsecond time scales. In this project, we aim at further understand the dynamics of impacting droplets.

The Laboratory of Applied Science is developing a reputation in the field of droplet science and that is reflected on a series of high impact publications based on the work of our PhD students. The Laboratory hosts various high-end imaging and instrumentation rigs such as high-intensity light sources and high-speed cameras. Other relevant facilities available include optical tables, lasers, control units, automatic stages, and data acquisition systems.

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU & International Applicants.
  • Full Time programme only.
  • Applicant required to start in September 2020.
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (set as £17,009 for 2019/20).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • International applicants should refer to the following website at

Supervisor Contact Details
For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr J Rafael Castrejon-Pita
Tel: 020 7882 7620

Application Method
To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Mechanical Engineering programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Engineering:

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2020 SEMS QMRS JRCP’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.