Professor of Mechanics
How many times have we not been fascinated, and possibly frightened, by lightning and the rumble of thunder? Yet, it is a very meek natural phenomenon compared to earthquakes that directly, or through subsequent tsunami waves, can lead to large natural disasters. This type of natural phenomenon occurs due to an abrupt release of energy that creates jolts or shock waves. Shock waves propagate with high speed through the air, water or bedrock. They can also be created by humans via explosions. But shockwaves are not all bad, as they can also be used medically. For example, they can be used to crush kidney stones. Shockwaves are also normal in many technological applications where they interact with material structures.
Nicholas Apazidis and his research group study these phenomena experimentally, numerically and theoretically. On the one hand, the objective is to develop protective methods against those harmful effects; on the other hand, it is to control and use shockwaves in technical applications through a deeper understanding of their properties. The group studies shockwaves experimentally in a so-called shock-tube where one achieves extreme temperatures and pressure in a gas. One also explores the shockwave’s behaviour in a liquid or gas/liquid mixture in a chamber, where it is created through a powerful electric discharge.