Molecular diffusion can be used as a probe of the microstructure and organisation of materials and biological tissues.
Biomedical applications of diffusion include diffusion-tensor imaging, which has been used as the basis for nerve fibre tractography in the brain, as well as microstructural imaging of tissues and materials. Diffusion measurements of tissues and biomaterials can reveal the organisation and anisotropy of their structural scaffold (e.g., collagen fibres or muscle cells).
In the oil and gas industry, the diffusion propagator in porous media is used to probe the structure and connectivity of the pore space of sedimentary rocks. This can be used to obtain the long-range permeability, tortuosity of the pore space and the surface-to-volume ratio of the pores-parameters crucial for characterising the viability of oil and gas reservoirs.
Quantitative interpretation of diffusion measurements often requires the use of molecular simulations for translating the results of experimental measurements into morphological characteristics of the material studied.
The aim of this project is the development of novel analytic approaches to interpretation of measurements of diffusion in restricted environments, with a view to applying the results in petrophysics (especially characterisation of sedimentary rocks) and biomedicine (diffusion-tensor imaging of biomaterials and tissues).
A combination of numerical, experimental and analytic tools can be used in this project:
- Numerical simulations: Monte Carlo and Langevin dynamics to sample the restricted diffusion tensor.
- You will use QUT supercomputers on these simulations and obtain first-hand experience in computer programming and computational molecular physics.
- Markov Transition Matrix (MTM): a new diffusion simulation technique that has been developed in Konstantin Momot's research group.
- You can work on furthering its development and application to model biological tissues.
- Analytic methods, including the use of the Fourier transform to explore the q-space in order to understand the behaviour of the diffusion coefficient at different time scales.
- This is “pen-and-paper” analysis of restricted diffusion aimed at understanding the fundamental connection between diffusion and pore space.
- A blend of analytic techniques and computer simulations in order to explore the relationships between the morphology of the diffusion environment and the diffusion propagator, autocorrelation functions and spectral densities of motion.
We expect to develop novel approaches to the modelling of molecular diffusion in materials, tissues and similar complex environments
Skills and experience
Ideally you should have a strong background in mathematics, an interest in molecular physics and programming skills.
You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.
Contact the supervisor for more information.