Application of Molecular dynamics to investigate and optimise the active soil performance

Study level

Master of Philosophy
Vacation research experience scheme


Expansive soils/active soil has wide applications in geotechnical engineering and other engineering disciplines due to its desired special properties, for example, low permeability and swelling pressure under saturated condition. But these materials are highly possible to experience huge volume change and even damage due to the moisture content reduction. However, the underlying mechanism of this phenomenon is still not clear for geotechnical engineers. Therefore, there is no optimum solution available to solve the problem. In this project, a special modelling approach called molecular dynamics will be adopted to simulate this phenomenon and provide a deep insight into the ways of addressing the phenomenon.

Research Activities

The potential candidate is expected to (1) perform comprehensive literature review about the state-of-the-art in the research about molecular dynamics in science and engineering applications, (2) to choose an applicable package of molecular dynamics for the simulation in expansive soils, (3) based on the simulation, to provide an approach to optimise the material to increase its performance under moisture content variation.


Based on the project, it is anticipated to (1) present a comprehensive literature review report for the relevant research community, to (2) develop a scheme for molecular dynamics simulation in expansive soils and (3) ultimately to explain this phenomenon and provide some recommendation for industry to improve the performance of expansive soil in engineering applications.

Skills and experience

  • Good communication skills in English environment.
  • Good team work and the will to do collaboration.
  • Relevant engineering and science background including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and materials.

Other Team Members

Dr Jeff Baldock, CSIRO