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European Space Agency Internship for MPhys graduate


Adelchi Asta MPhys Graduate






Pictured L-R: Professor Andrei Zvelindovsky, Adelchi Asta and Dr Marco Pinna.


A Physics graduate from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) gained an internship with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Adelchi Asta graduated from the MPhys Physics course in July and moved to the Netherlands to begin his internship in the Non-metallic Materials Department at the ESA-ESTEC. Based in Noordwijk, he worked on the development of a model for modern polymeric materials.

Adelchi has since finished the internship and will start an MSc in Modern Applications of Mathematics at the University of Bath in September.

Adelchi enjoyed a truly international study experience while at UCLan. He is from a Franco-Italian family and spent his early life in Rome and Paris. He moved to England for his studies and his MPhys project on nano-block copolymers and nano-colloids was supervised by Dr. M. Pinna, an Italian.

During this project Adelchi visited the University of Barcelona for three weeks and worked with Professor Ignacio Pagonabarraga from the Department of Fundamental Physics.

Commenting on this experience Adelchi said:

“I was able to discuss my master’s thesis with Ignacio in which I had modelled a system made of diblock copolymer with colloidal nanoparticles of two distinct radii. The results of this were very interesting, but some were incredibly strange. Therefore we decided to run more simulations in order to better explain exactly why the system was behaving in such a manner.

“Ignacio and I were puzzled as we could not find a way to explain the nanoparticles’ clustering, observed in some of my simulations, as well as the formation of the green neutral region between the copolymers. In the end we found that the green zone formation was unfortunately created by a numerical artefact.

“Despite this, we managed to understand that the clustering of small particles was created by the presence of large particles, as they form small high density zones where particles are trapped, due to their affinity.

“During my final week I managed to obtain simulations that make sense. I finally understood why the particles aggregate in some simulations and why there was this green zone formation. Unfortunately the time step I was using was too large and this created a numerical artefact responsible for the green zone formation. I also found that only the large particles are responsible of these shaded high density regions, which entraps smaller particles, forcing them to aggregate.

“Ignacio and I made an action plan for the future work I needed to complete upon my return to Preston. This enabled us to publish the results obtained.”