University of Edinburgh Featured PhD Programmes
University of Southampton Featured PhD Programmes
University of Exeter Featured PhD Programmes

Design and development of paper/responsive polymer hybrid micro-device (Advert Reference: SF19/EE/MCE/XU)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
Dr B Xu , Dr Y Li No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Paper micro-device is a technology that is particularly well-suited for use in public health, diagnostics for resource-limited settings, veterinary medicine, testing of food and water quality, and environmental monitoring. The research will focus on designing and development of paper based soft hybrid micro-device with improved stimuli responsive properties and structural design and these features will be investigated to enable a new device technology. The desired geometries/structures will be created by advanced micro-engineering techniques such as photo-lithographical patterning, layer by layer self-assembly, electro-spinning and 3D printing. Apart from the technique exploration, interesting physics/mechanics of soft materials will be studied to support broad range of applications in emerging fields such as sensors and actuators, and soft robotics.

A combination of experimental measurements and theoretical simulation will be used in this research. Micro-fabrication techniques (photo-lithography, electro-spinning, 3D printing, etc) will be used as appropriate to support the overall development of fabrication technologies for the desired structure/device. For characterization, proper experimental setup will be built to study the micro-/nano-mechanics, combined with micro-/nano-mechanical characterization (Optical microscopy. nanoindentation, AFM, surface profiler, SEM, etc). Student will use some finite element analysis i.e. ABAQUS, to understand and predict the mechanics of the materials/structures. The planned work packages (WP) are:

WP1. Chemically improve the responsive properties for matierials, i.e. Gel, SMP, etc.
WP 2. Structural design the micro-fabrication of the responsive multi-layer thin film structures.
WP 3. Developing and optimizing the actuation effects for responsive materials based structures/devices.
WP 4. Developing and improving instrumental systems to explore the desired patterns/structures/devices.
WP 5. Theoretical understanding of mechanics/mechanism of the smart structure;
WP 6. Presentation to public, high impact journal paper and technical report writing.

This project is supervised by Dr. Ben Xu.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/EE/MCE/XU) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2020 or 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project.


15. Small, 2019, DOI:10.1002/smll.201902440. (cover paper, highlighted by Materials views china)
14. Small, 2019, DOI:10.1002/smll.201900019.
13. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2019, DOI: 10.1039/C9TA02188D.
12. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 11(2019), pp.17706-17713.
11. Advanced Optical Materials, 7(2019), DOI:10.1002/adom.201900152.
10. Composites Science and Technology, 174(2019), pp.27-32. (ESI highly cited paper)
9. Small Methods, 2(2018), pp.1800138.
8. Advanced Functional Materials, 28(2018), pp.1704228. (cover paper)
7. Physical Review Letters, 118(2017), pp.218003.
6. Advanced Functional Materials, 26(2016), pp. 3218–3225.
5. Advanced Functional Materials, 26(2016), pp. 2198-2206. (highlighted by Materials views china, ESI highly cited paper)
4. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 8(2016), pp.22658-22663.
3. Energy & Environmental Science, 8(2015), pp.1471-1479.
2. Advanced Materials, 26 (2014), pp.4381–4385.
1. Nano Energy, 5(2014), pp.60-66. (cover paper, ESI highly cited paper)

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2021
All rights reserved.