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Kyle Baldwin

Kyle Baldwin

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)
Physics and Mathematics

Role

Dr. Kyle Anthony Baldwin is a senior lecturer in the Physics and Mathematics department. Kyle is currently advertising for PhD positions, see the research section below for more details.

Kyle teaches two first year core physics modules, Introduction to lab Software and Scientific Programming for Industrial Applications, where students learn the fundamentals of computer programming in several languages, with particular focus on scientific usage, and the 2nd year core module Fundamental Forces, where students learn the principles of the 4 known fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear interactions.

Research areas

Kyle's research background is broadly within the fields of fluid dynamics and soft matter physics.

Since achieving his doctorate studying spontaneous structure formation in evaporating polymer solutions, Kyle has published works in several dynamic fluid systems at Nottingham Trent University, The University of Nottingham, and The Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization. These projects include:

  • The equilibrium shapes of levitating, spinning droplets, relevant to the geophysical phenomenon of tektite formation.
  • The inhibition of a magnetically induced Rayleigh-Taylor instability by rotational Coriolis forces.
  • Oscillation induced propulsion in vibrating fluids.
  • Magnetic levitation stabilised by streaming fluid flows.
  • Liquid crystal active emulsions; oil droplets far from equilibrium that self-propel due to spontaneous symmetry-breaking during dissolution.

Kyle is active in several areas of research, including the wrinkling of curved soft surfaces, biomimetic swimming microdroplets (active emulsions), and the complex interplay between fluid forces and biotic interactions - where the behaviour of the fluid impacts the living organism, and vice versa.

Research Opportunities

Currently, Kyle is advertising for three postgraduate experimental research projects (MPhil and/or PhD). These are competitively funded by the NTU Graduate School.

  • Active Matter in Fluidic Transition. There are two regimes that are typically described when considering fluidic forces acting on swimming organisms: The low Reynolds number regime, primarily relevant to the microscopic world, where viscous forces dominate and swimmers must overcome time-reversibility; and the high Reynolds number regime, primarily relevant to the macroscopic world, where inertial forces dominate, and flows become chaotic. However, for millimetre sized creatures, who live at an intermediary transition regime between the two, both forces must be considered, and very little is known about the role of the fluid on swimming behaviour and swarming dynamics. At a time when oceans are warming (raising the Reynolds number), and invertebrate populations are in decline, studying this particular interplay between the fluid and biology has never been more essential. This experimental project, co-supervised by theoretical physicist Dr. Marco Mazza of the university of Loughborough, will focus on Daphnia Magna, a millimetre sized swimming and swarming invertebrate (more commonly known as the "water flea"), an ideal model swimmer for studying the role of fluid dynamics on the fascinating behaviour of life in fluidic transition.
  • Catching the Dust. In our normal routines, there is an everyday occurrence that touches upon a variety of fundamental physical, industrial, and environmental problems: sweeping dust. For example, solar panels have to be periodically cleaned in order to maintain efficiency, and dust is expected to be a particular problem if these panels are placed in a hot dessert, or especially on the dusty Martian surface. In an industrial context, additive manufacturing techniques also require successive sweeping of pre-sintered material dust layers, where inefficiency leads to poor printed results, and waste. And finally, to keep cities clean, mechanised cleaners sweep debris from the streets, which is now known to release microparticulate dust into the atmosphere, which can adversely affect health. Despite these examples, there is very little research in the physics of sweeping, e.g., what are the ideal brush fibre properties for collecting the most amount of debris, without releasing microparticles into the atmosphere or damaging surfaces? In collaboration with co-supervisor Dr. Oscar R. Enríquez, of the Fluid Mechanics Group, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the student in this project will explore the physics of sweeping, and aim to add to our limited knowledge of an everyday occurrence that affects many areas of technology and our environment.
  • The Droplet Divisome. In collaboration with the Active Soft Matter group at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics & Self-Organization (MPIDS), this project will focus on the system of active emulsions; droplets that self-propel, and display a myriad of biomimetic properties, from maze-solving, to food seeking, and even – which is the topic of this project – self-division. There is growing interest in creating artificial “life”; materials that, through purely physical and chemical processes, replicate the behaviours of microscopic organisms. Recently, it has been discovered that, when physical constraints are placed upon these swimming droplets, they can undergo a cascade of self-division, remarkably similar in appearance to cell division, but purely through the action of the chemical gradients and fluid forces that drive these droplets to swim. This experimental project, co-supervised by Dr. Corinna Maaß of the MPIDS, will seek to better understand these processes, with the goal of adding to the knowledge of, and ability to recreate, life-like processes in the absence of biology.

External activity

Inspired by his doctoral research into drying droplets, Kyle has run a Gallery of "Droplarts"; beautiful microscopy images of complex structures formed from dried droplets, one of which won the 2019 Inaugural Images of Research Competition. These pieces can be found on Kyle's website adropofscience.com, or on Instagram @droplarts.

Kyle has also written popular science articles in the Soft Matter newsletter SoftBites, on materials inspired by squid skin and spider silk.

Based upon Kyle's research, he has been interviewed twice for popular science YouTube channels on two separate topics:

  • Brady Haran, journalist and creator of numerous scientific and mathematical channels, interviewed Kyle for a video on his highly popular physics channel Sixty Symbols, titled “Little Swimmers”.
  • Scientist and YouTuber Steve Mould interviewed Kyle to discuss his work on "artificial tektites", and the result can be found here: Tektites - why some rocks are dumbell shaped.

Sponsors and collaborators

Publications

See all of Kyle Baldwin's publications...

Press expertise

Kyle has been involved in creating press releases and outreach media to showcase several of his areas of research. These include:

Course(s) I teach on

  • Student using scientific equipment
    Undergraduate | Full-time / Sandwich | 2020

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/study-and-courses/courses/find-your-course/science-technology/ug/2020-21/bsc-physics-and-mathematics

  • Student using scientific equipment
    Undergraduate | Full-time / Sandwich | 2020

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/study-and-courses/courses/find-your-course/science-technology/ug/2020-21/bsc-applied-physics

  • Student using equipment in science lab
    Undergraduate | Full-time / Sandwich | 2020

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/study-and-courses/courses/find-your-course/science-technology/ug/2020-21/bsc-physics-with-nuclear-technology