Andrew O. Parry

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Chairs of Excellence 2012

Andrew O. Parry
Imperial College, London    UNITED KINGDOM

Andrew Parry is Professor of Mathematical Physics in the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London. He studied his Physics degree (1983-1986) and Physics Ph.D (1986-1989) at the University of Bristol, working under Prof. R Evans FRS on "Correlation Functions at Wetting Transitoins".

After, a three year postdoctoral appointment, also at Bristol, he moved to the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, as a Lecturer. During 1992-1997 he was also EPSRC Advanced Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and was promoted to Reader in 1998. He was visiting Professor of Physics at the University of Wuppertal, Germany 1998-1999 and became full Professor in Mathematics at Imperial College London 2001.

From 2001-2005 he was Head of Mathematical Physics and from 2006-2011 Head of Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Physics. He is author of over 100 papers on the statistical mechanics of inhomogeneous fluids and interfacial phase transitions. Prof. Parry is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. 


Project: Over the last ten years it has been realised that fluids adsorbed on such structured surfaces, crucial for an understanding micro-fluidics, exhibit a host of novel interfacial phase transitions which reveal the dramatic and suprising influence that substrate geometry has on wetting. Despite these advances the nature of fluid adsorption at structures surfaces and in confinement is still in its infancy. Consider, for example, a large volume of liquid in a tall vertical capillary-slit or pore which is capped at its bottom. We initally hold the capillary vertically and the ask what happens when the capillary is turned to the horizontal? Experience tells us the liquid will drain from the open end if the capillary is wide, as when water escapes from a tipped glass, but remains trapped if it is narrow, such as liquid in a drinking straw. It is surprising that this basic aspect of capillarity, in particular the emptying phase transition that occurs as the slit is widened, has not been investigated in depth. We wish to further study this phenomena and other examples of fluid adsorption at structured walls.In particular:

A) The study of emptying transitions in pores of different cross section including, circular, ellipitical and triangular. Our preliminary findings are highly intriguing. Depending on the specific shape, emptying transitions can occur even in the absence of a gravitational field i.e. for microscopically small channels. In this case the of the order of the phase transition and the nature of fluctuation effects is unknown but will be entirely different to that of the mesoscopic capillary slit. So, the question is, how do microscopic pores empty depending on their shape?

B) Similarly one may also generalise capillary emptying by considering the micropatterning of the capillary slit/pore walls by for example decorating the surfaces with hyrodophobic and hydrophillic regions? How does this influence the emptying? Can the transition be made first order - in which case the controlled jumping of the meniscus between two different states may be considered a micro fluidic switch. Our theoretical studies of these first two projects will be done in tandem with experiments at the University of Oxford, U.K.

C) The order of the wedge filling transition in acute wedges. Recently it was predicted that continuous wedge filling transitions become first-order as the wedge is made more acute, due to the self interaction of the meniscus - or equivalently the interaction between the wetting films on either side of the wedge . Numerical confirmation of this has recently appeared but the tricritical angle was lower than expected. This we shall investigate using our Non-local Interfacial Hamiltonian and explicitly incorporate the wave vector dependent surface tension arising in different density functional descriptions.

Stay Period: FEB 13 - AUG 13