Tom Ridley

Tom Ridley


I have an MPhys in Theoretical Physics from University of Leeds. I've previously done research on the chemistry of pre-stellar cores, and molecular dynamics for stability of tiny crystallites as summer research projects during my undergraduate degree.

I have also completed a PhD internship with IBM resarch utilising Dissipative Particle Dynamics (DPD) simulations with the DL-POLY package, including modifying Fortran code of the simulation package to add further shearing options and adding features to an automation framework. I also did an amount of bencharking for these systems to check what could reasonably be run with this package and the available resources.

I also have a keen interest in outreach - I have been part of delivering multiple workshops to schools, including developing and refining a new workshop with other students, as well as leading on organising a topic of the "Pint of Science" festival and participating in PubHD.

Research interests

’Soft’ colloids are typically micron or sub-micron scale structured objects such as polymer microgels, which consist of chemically cross-linked polymer networks that are compressible and deformable. Experiments suggest that at packing ratios where the structural dynamics of hard colloids are arrested, a soft colloid system may still be able to undergo cage-breaking due to particle deformation. However, the link between the detailed elastic properties of soft colloids and the resulting dynamics are presently not well understood. Soft packed colloids show complex rheological and flow behaviour; it is important to derive the links between the single particle elastic properties and the resulting suspension's behaviour.

My simulations utilise a recently developed computational algorithm, Fluctuating Finite Element Analysis, for simulating viscoelastic objects undergoing thermal excitation. While colloidal systems characterised by hard or radially symmetric soft potentials have been much studied, this approach captures the detailed shape deformations of the colloidal particles and ensures that the structure of the objects, as well as the effects of anisotropic deformation, are taken into account. I have explored the effect on soft colloid systems of different material properties, effective volume fraction, as well as shearing these systems. I observe rearrangement in most systems past the point it would be possible for hard-sphere systems.


  • MPhys, BSc in Theoretical Physics, University of Leeds, 1st class with Honours.