Waves

Waves are the fundamental mechanism that transmit all information, something that makes them important in physics and applied mathematics. In 2010 the School founded a Waves In Complex Continua (WICC) group, which takes an interest in how waves of all types behave.

Measuring how waves move can be difficult when the material is non-uniform, for example in modern composite materials or in biological tissue such as bone. In these materials, the internal structure varies to suit the material's use, and this variation makes it challenging to predict the movement of waves.

Modelling these materials is complex, but has important applications. The group has been working on a way to predict the onset of osteoporosis in elderly patients by measuring wave speed across heel bones to give an indication of bone health.

The study of wave phenomena at Manchester has a strong history, dating back to the late 1800s. Horace Lamb (Beyer Professor 1888-1920) conducted research into waves in elastic media (amongst other aspects) including surface waves, the Rayleigh-Lamb waves in elastic plates that now carry his name and the theory of sound.

Many more great mathematicians with an interest in waves followed Lamb, and we are proud to continue this legacy with the help of funding from the EPSRC, the Royal Society, the Leverhulme Trust and industry, perhaps most notably Thales Underwater Systems.

We have a thriving group of PhD research students and postdocs working on broad range of research problems in wave mechanics. As a group, we also welcome research visitors from around the globe.

Current research in waves at Manchester

The current focus of wave research at Manchester lies within the Waves in Complex Continua (WICC) Group established in 2010 and led by Prof David Abrahams (Beyer Professor since 1995) and Dr William Parnell.

Of specific importance to the group is the study of waves in heterogeneous media, of which good examples are composite materials and bone. The complex microstructure of such materials gives rise to a complex wave field. Often the interest is how an effective wave propagates through the medium. In order to study problems in this domain, many different types of mathematics are required including the development of fundamental analytical techniques, computational methods, probability theory and the use of many aspects of the theories of acoustics, elasticity and water waves.

Some of the current exciting research projects at Manchester are:

  • Effective propagation of waves in random heterogeneous media, including composite media
  • Waves in periodic heterogeneous media
  • Scattering of waves by multiple obstacles (multiple scattering theory)
  • Hydroacoustics
  • Non-uniqueness of solutions in water wave problems
  • Modelling ultrasound propagation in bone
  • Wave propagation in pre-stressed media
  • Elastodynamic cloaking theory and metamaterials
  • Active cloaking, anti-sound and anti-vibration

Did you know?

We have a thriving group of PhD research students and postdocs working on broad range of research problems in wave mechanics. As a group, we also welcome research visitors from around the globe.

Contact us

If you are interested in research in waves, you can contact the group by sending an email to William Parnell.

▲ Up to the top