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A 3.5-year PhD studentship in development of flexible sensor material for wound management and detection of infectious agents in skin using bio-optical methods

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  • Full or part time
    Prof I P Parkin
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent at the Biomedical Sciences Institute, A*STAR in Singapore.

Detection of wound biomarkers and infection due to bacteria is of paramount interest in wound care management. Detection of these biomarkers at early stage will give direction in estimating a wound is healing or non-healing. Additionally, monitoring of pressure, temperature and humidity near the wound area, which makes it capable of overall wound management. In this context, we propose the development of a flexible and stretchable sensor for the continuous monitoring of these biomarkers and bacteria using bio-optical methods such as surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) along with various colorimetric methods. The eye-catching significance of SERS for sensing is realized by its ability to generate giant enhancement for the unique vibrational ‘fingerprint’ Raman spectra when the analyte molecules are adsorbed onto nano-roughened metal surfaces of silver/gold or their colloidal nanoparticles. This leads to unprecedented sensitivity in detection along with the possibility for multiplexed detection. Similarly SPR offers tremendous potential for studying the bimolecular interaction and kinetics on a plasmonic platform.

The possible materials for stretchable and flexible sensor would be biocompatible hydrogels or elastomeric membranes which will have the capability to form a conformal contact with any uneven surfaces on the body. A hybrid elastomer-hydrogel type material would be highly desirable as it can mimic mammalian skin like property in terms of such as elastomer like “epidermis” and hydrogel like “dermis” with robust interfaces. For the sensor readout, novel SERS/SPR based sensing method could be used along with monitoring the colorimetric visualization of the pH condition to identify the stage of wound healing. The fabrication process makes use of E-beam evaporator or Sputtering to generating novel highly sensitive plasmonic substrate.

The aim of the project is to optimize the nanostructure design and its biocompatibility for continuous monitoring of the markers as a wearable, which will open up new regime in this arena.

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a 1st or 2:1 class Integrated Masters degree (MSci, MChem, MEng etc.) or
a 2:1 minimum BSc plus stand-alone Masters degree in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or a related discipline. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.

Please contact Professor Ivan Parkin ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Ioannnis Papakonstantinou ([Email Address Removed]) for further details or to express an interest.

Applications will be accepted until 30 June 2018 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

Funding Notes

The Studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend £16777 (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance. Please note that, due to funding restrictions, only UK/EU citizens are eligible for this studentship.

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