Interfacial ferrofluid dynamics: Towards controllable behavior of active and responsive fluids

Interdisciplinary Areas: Engineering-Medicine, Micro-, Nano-, and Quantum Engineering, Others

Project Description

Recently, there has been significant interest in the physics of active and responsive fluids. One promising approach to creating active fluids with controllable properties and behaviors is by suspending many mechanical microswimmers made from shape-programmable materials and actuating them with an external magnetic field. This actuation mechanism is particularly enticing for applications at the intersection of medicine and engineering due to the safe operation of magnetic fields in the medical setting (for, e.g., targeted therapies and drug delivery in vivo).

Even simpler than a suspension of magnetically responsive mechanical micro/nanoswimmers is a suspension of ferrofluid droplets, which can also respond to an external magnetic field. Our recent work has shown that a confined ferrofluid droplet's interface motion can be controlled via an external magnetic field, leading to predictable nonlinear dynamics.

The proposed project seeks to analyze, via theory and advanced scientific computing, the nonlinear dynamics of ferrofluid interfaces subjected to external magnetic fields. We seek to extend the phase-field modeling framework to ferrofluids, and perform direct numerical simulations of dynamic 3D ferrofluid interfaces, towards understanding how to control them in a "hands off" fashion with applied fields.

Start Date


Postdoctoral Requirements

The postdoctoral researcher should have a degree in Computational Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, Chemical Engineering, Computational Physics, or equivalent. The research requires a strong background in fluid mechanics, partial differential equations, and scientific computing. Advanced programming skills, including experience with using high-performance computing platforms, would be helpful.


Ivan C. Christov,
School of Mechanical Engineering

Suchuan (Steven) Dong,
Center for Computational and Applied Mathematics, Department of Mathematics


Zongxin Yu and Ivan C. Christov, Tuning a magnetic field to generate spinning ferrofluid droplets with controllable speed via nonlinear periodic interfacial waves, Physical Review E 103 (2021) 013103, doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.103.013103; preprint arXiv:2009.04644.

Y. Qian, Z. Yang, F. Wang & S. Dong. gPAV-based unconditionally energy-stable schemes for the Cahn-Hilliard equation: Stability and error analysis. Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, 372, 113444, 2020; arXiv:2006.08042.

Daihui Lu, Federico Municchi and Ivan C. Christov, Computational Analysis of Interfacial Dynamics in Angled Hele-Shaw Cells: Instability Regimes, Transport in Porous Media 131 (2020) 907–934, doi:10.1007/s11242-019-01371-2; preprint arXiv:1811.06960.

S. Dong. Wall-bounded multiphase flows of N immiscible incompressible fluids: consistency and contact-angle boundary condition. Journal of Computational Physics, 338, 21-67, 2017; preprint arXiv:1610.10090.