Dr Karl P Travis


Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Reader in Computational Physics and Nuclear Waste Disposal

Dr Karl Travis
Profile picture of Dr Karl Travis
+44 114 222 5483

Full contact details

Dr Karl P Travis
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Sir Robert Hadfield Building
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

Karl joined the Department in 2003 from the University of Bradford, where he was the A. H. Marks Lecturer in Physical Chemistry 2000-2.

Before that, he undertook postdoctoral appointments at Imperial College (with Dr David Nicholson), North Carolina State and Cornell Universities (with Prof Keith Gubbins) and the Australian National University (with Prof Denis Evans).

He obtained both his PhD and BSc in Chemistry from UMIST, where he also won the Reynolds Prize, UMIST´s premier undergraduate prize.

Research interests

Alternative Disposal Concepts: Deep Borehole Disposal
Geological disposal of HLW and spent nuclear fuel (SNF) in very deep boreholes is a concept whose time has come. The alternative – disposal in a mined, engineered repository is beset with difficulties not least of which are the constraints placed upon the engineered barriers by the high thermal loading.
The deep borehole concept offers a potentially safer, faster and more cost-effective solution. The deep borehole research group at Sheffield (Travis and Gibb) is at the forefront of international efforts to develop this concept. We are currently working with Sandia National Labs on a program leading to the drilling of pilot borehole in the USA. Our work includes: developing sealing and support matrices, rock welding and deployment mechanisms, and employs a combination of experiment and continuum modelling (Finite differences and Smooth Particle Applied Mechanics).

Behaviour of Materials under extreme conditions
Our main focus here is on wasteform performance. The detrimental effects of self-irradiation (mostly alpha decay) of immobilised radionuclides include: swelling, amorphisation and crack formation in ceramics and de-vitrification in glasses. We use computational methods (mainly molecular dynamics and topological modelling) and statistical mechanics to examine the consequences of alpha recoil damage and understand the recovery pathways in these materials. Recent research is aimed at understanding why some materials have a greater resistance to radiation-induced amorphisation. The use of Smooth Particle Applied Mechanics in understanding how materials fail under mechanical and thermal loading is another area of interest.

Simulation Methodology
Software Packages certainly have a role to play in the Materials Science and Engineering community, but new research often requires new methods of simulation that are not supported by off-the-shelf codes. Developing new simulation methods and codes is a key area of interest for this research group.
Previous research in this area includes the development of configurational thermostats and barostats for molecular simulation and a method which allows an unambiguous determination of the role played by intramolecular flexibility on transport properties of liquids. Recent work in collaboration with Bill and Carol Hoover has led to a new algorithm for simulating Joule-Thomson expansion of gases.


Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

Professional activities and memberships
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics Group (2011 – present)
  • EPSRC Peer Review College Member
  • Co-organiser of Joint CCP5-RSC Workshop: Advances in Theory and Simulation of non-equilibrium Systems, Imperial College, London (2013).
  • Co-organiser of inaugural “ NEMD School” to be held annually, starting 2014 at Imperial College London.