PhD project: Packing closer than close packed
Under pressure, many elements including hydrogen, lithium, sodium, potassium and cesium adopt the close-packed face-centred cubic crystal structure - the most efficient packing of spherical objects. Remarkably, when they melt, they get even denser. Nobody knows why.
In this computational project, you will examine the liquid phase of high-pressure elements to determine how this occurs. One approach is to use the "density functional theory" which allows full quantum treatment of the electrons for several hundred atoms, and correctly reproduces the effect. Describing a liquid with only 100 atoms by careful study of the electronic quantum levels, it may be possible to discover the structure.
In parallel, it is possible to do calculations of millions of atoms. This will require so-called two-band interatomic potentials which have been developed within the group and describe the transition of electrons from low-energy, high volume s-states to high-energy, low-volume d-states under pressure.
The project relates to ongoing experimental work in Edinburgh's Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions. It may be held within the Condensed Matter DTC.
- Professor Graeme Ackland (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
The project supervisor welcomes informal enquiries about this project.
Find out more about this research area
The links below summarise our research in the area(s) relevant to this project:
- Find out more about Extreme Conditions.
- Find out more about Computational Materials Physics.
- Find out more about the Institute for Condensed Matter and Complex Systems.
- Find out how to apply for our PhD degrees.
- Find out about fees and funding and studentship opportunities.
- View and complete the application form (on the main University website).
- Find out how to contact us for more information.
More PhD projects
- Browse other Extreme Conditions projects.
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