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EPSRC DTP PhD project: Wearable systems for remote heart function monitoring


   Department of Physics


About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project commencing in October 2023 under the supervision of Prof Kamal Asadi and Prof Alain Nogaret in the Department of Physics.

Eligible applicants will be considered for a fully-funded studentship – for more information, see the Funding Notes section below.

Overview of the Research:

Cardiovascular diseases cause a quarter of all deaths, that is more than 160,000 lives each year and affect the life of nearly 10 million people in the UK. An energy harvesting technology that continuously monitors heart function can save many lives as it enables early detection of heart failure and catching undiagnosed heart abnormalities. Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a widely used standard technology by clinicians and hospitals to monitor heart conditions.

Moving the point of care directly to the patient’s home is lifesaving, but it would require remote heart monitoring technologies such as ECG, which is usually performed by trained medical staff. Wearable self-powered (battery-less) heart monitoring devices, as simple as a vest, can save many lives because they continuously monitor the heart activity thus enabling early diagnosis of abnormalities. However, such a wearable monitoring technology does not exist yet.

The aim of this project is to deliver a self-powered (battery-less) highly sensitive wearable heart monitoring device. Polymeric piezoelectric materials are the ideal candidate because of their biofriendliness and the ease of making fabrics from them.

The project will deliver piezoelectric polymer sensors with large voltage response through a combined simulation-guided experimental materials and device design. A crossbar array of sensors will be realised and the response of the array to local mechanical stress will be analysed. Large sensor responses will be achieved by material engineering, through increasing the piezoelectric charge coefficient, d33, by fabricating composites or through decreasing relative permittivity of the piezoelectric, ε, by inducing porosity. Signal processing protocols will be developed for the matrix to record and analyses a large amount of information obtained from each sensor in the crossbar array.

The proposed team is equipped with the right skills to achieve the objectives. The group of Asadi has demonstrated in-vivo self-powered heart pacemakers and has developed the preliminary model for the materials systems. The group of Nogaret is working toward adaptive pacing using neuromorphic systems, which requires an enormous amount of signal processing of sensory input from both pressure and stretch receptors. The supervisory team is therefore uniquely positioned to carry out the task outlined in this project.

Project keywords: heart monitoring, ECG, self-powered sensors, healthcare devices.

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent) in Physics or Electronic Engineering. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

The successful candidate will have an aptitude for experimental materials physics and the project will give opportunities to become involved in the development of supporting theory. Familiarity with simulation packages such as COMSUL is required.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications:

Applicants are encouraged to contact Prof Kamal Asadi on email address  before applying to find out more about the project and to discuss their suitability for the role.

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Physics.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Note: Applications may close earlier than the advertised deadline if a suitable candidate is found. We therefore recommend that you contact Prof Asadi prior to applying and submit your formal application as early as possible.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.


Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project may be considered for a 3.5-year Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC DTP) studentship. Funding covers tuition fees, a stipend (£17,668 per annum, 2022/23 rate) and research/training expenses (£1,000 per annum). EPSRC DTP studentships are open to both Home and International students; however, in line with guidance from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the number of awards available to International candidates will be limited to 30% of the total.

References

S. Azimi, A. Golabchi, A. Nekookar, S. Rabbani, M. Hassanpour Amiri, K. Asadi, M. M. Abolhasani, Self-powered cardiac pacemaker by piezoelectric polymer nanogenerator implant. Nano Energy 83 (2021) 105781.

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