Development of a Molecule-Sensing Contact Lens Platform (COB23/EE/MPEE/TORUN)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Hamdi Torun  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is a funded studentship covering a monthly stipend and tuition fees.

Among bodily fluids that have attracted attention for health monitoring, tears have particular advantages; being continuously available, easily accessible and relatively consistent, compared to sweat and saliva. In addition to obvious functions of lubrication and cleaning to the eyes, the tear film is rich in metabolites, electrolytes and biomolecules. Currently, smart contact lenses have been demonstrated for continuous glucose and intraocular pressure monitoring, and emerging applications towards continuous biomarker monitoring such as lactate, urea, alcohol, and sodium have been explored. This is an exciting period in smart contact lens technology rapidly gaining momentum and globally attracting talents and investment. Smart contact lenses are emerging as a next generation of wearables valued at $5.82 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $15.95 billion by 2030.

The aim of this PhD research is the development of a new generation of wearable sensor technology based on a smart contact lens platform, capable of continuously measuring biomolecules in tears for 24 hours. The technology will be evaluated to include the detection of selected biomarkers in eye tears such as lactate, glucose and urea. The specific objectives include development of biocompatible, comfortable smart contact lenses for biosampling and measurement of tears for 24-hour time durations; development of readout units for the smart contact lenses; and assessment of eye tear as a matrix for biomarkers for non-invasive diagnostics.

The supervisor, Dr. Hamdi Torun, is a co-founder of GlakoLens ( a medtech company developing smart contact lenses for continuous health monitoring. This PhD research will benefit the technology developed at GlakoLens with potential collaboration and research visit opportunities. The core research will be carried at Smart Materials and Surfaces Laboratory at Northumbria University ( with a research expertise in functional materials for smart wearables relevant to this project.

The PhD student will be trained in microsystems, smart materials and wearables. While receiving academic training, the PhD student will be prepared for a wider impact to the society and economy of the UK. The innovative microsystems for non-invasive, portable, fast, affordable and accurate in vivo monitoring can enable healthcare workers to remotely manage chronic diseases in an ageing society. The pressure on traditional healthcare services has been drastically increasing due to demographic changes, specifically, ageing population and increased prevalence of chronic diseases. Wearable biosensors are at the most fundamental level of remote health monitoring and there is a critical need in delivering portable devices with multimodal capabilities in sensing.

Whilst focusing on scientific and technical excellence, this project will pursue opportunities to engage with healthcare community for wider impact. This includes consideration of clinical studies and regulatory frameworks. The student will be given opportunities to engage with experts in these fields.     

Academic Enquiries

This project is supervised by Dr Hamdi Torun. For informal queries, please contact [Email Address Removed].u. For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please use the email form below to contact Admissions. 

Eligibility Requirements

This scholarship is aimed at potential researchers from underrepresented groups in Higher Education. We therefore ask applicants in the personal statement section how they may fit such a criteria, and to outline how this scholarship will allow them to study a PhD, which they may have not been otherwise able to access (maximum 500 words).

Examples of eligible applicants for the scholarship may include, but are not limited to:

Academic eligibility criteria consists of:

  • 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.
  • Applicants cannot apply if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet one of the following criteria

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student. Applicants will need to be in the UK and fully enrolled before stipend payments can commence.

How to Apply

For further details of how to apply and the application form, click the link below  

For applications to be considered for interview, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words, your 500-word personal statement and the advert reference (e.g. COB23/…).

Deadline for applications: 13 July 2023

Start date of course: 01 October 2023

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers.

Funding Notes

This opportunity is only open to applicants who would be classed as 'Home' students. The studentship includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2023/24 full-time study this is £18,622 per year) and full tuition fees.


N. M. Farandos, A. K. Yetisen, M. J. Monteiro, C. R. Lowe, and S. H. Yun, “Contact Lens Sensors in Ocular Diagnostics,” Advanced Healthcare Materials, vol. 4, no. 6, pp. 792–810, Apr. 2015, doi: 10.1002/adhm.201400504
Ma, X., Ahadian, S., Liu, S., Zhang, J., Liu, S., Cao, T., Lin, W., Wu, D., de Barros, N.R., Zare, M.R. and Diltemiz, S.E., 2021. Smart contact lenses for biosensing applications. Advanced Intelligent Systems, 3(5), p.2000263.
Ekinci, G., Calikoglu, A., Solak, S.N., Yalcinkaya, A.D., Dundar, G. and Torun, H., 2017. Split-ring resonator-based sensors on flexible substrates for glaucoma monitoring. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical, 268, pp.32-37.
Yalçinkaya, Arda D., Günhan Dündar, and Hamdi Torun. "Split-ring resonator-based strain sensor on flexible substrates for glaucoma detection." U.S. Patent 10,492,683, issued December 3, 2019.

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