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EPSRC PhD Studentship in Integrated sensing technology for point-of-care diagnostics

   Cardiff School of Biosciences

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  Dr F Masia, Prof W Langbein  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The current pandemic has highlighted the importance of fast and reliable tests to detect the presence of biomolecules in a sample. While accurate, PCR tests show the typical shortcomings of other laboratory-based tests, e.g., culture, immunoassays etc., as those approaches require the transport of samples to a specialised laboratory, where experienced personnel perform lengthy and costly tests. On the other hand, lateral flow tests guarantee fast response at the expenses of the sensitivity. Yet, for many infectious diseases, an accurate and timely diagnosis at the point of care is critical for a rapid initiation of the treatment.

With this studentship, you will have the unique opportunity to join our group and work towards the development of a new generation of miniaturised biosensors capitalising on several emerging technologies in semiconductor physics, photonics, and biochemistry. The proposed device will be fast, accurate, reproducible, cost-effective, easy to use, and fully integrated with today’s mobile data technology.

The design is based on a lab-on-a-chip approach, where the optical excitation, sensing elements, and detectors are fabricated on the same compound semiconductor chip, requiring only electrical drive and read out. The building blocks of the sensor are photonic crystals, i.e. optical devices where periodic structures of dielectric materials are engineered to tailor the interaction with light, to create unique optical properties. Notably, the sensor will allow the detection of hundreds of analytes at once, providing a multiplex diagnostic platform for the analysis of multi-biomarker array data, in a miniaturised footprint compatible with wearable technology, offering the possibility of a continuous monitoring for time course analysis of biomarkers in patients.

Training and Development Opportunities:

You will gain key skills on a range of different technologies, from the computer modelling of photonic devices to their experimental characterization.

You will be trained to use advanced multi-physics modelling software (COMSOL, Lumerica) which allows the simulations of optical, electronic and thermal properties to optimise their performance. You will also learn to program in Matlab. This a highly transferable skill as Matlab is a software used in many applications, within academia and industry.

For the characterization part, you will learn how to operate micro-spectroscopy experimental set-ups to investigate the optical and electrical properties of the device. Notably, you will be trained to operate different laser systems and spectrometers, and to perform electric measurements using a home-made probe station to drive current through the device and read the output signal.

Beyond research experience, you will disseminate the findings through publishing in leading international academic journals and high-impact conferences, developing writing and presentation skills. Finally, you will gain experience in project management, developing important organisational skills.

Research Environment:

You will join the Quantum Optoelectronics and Biophotonics group, which gathers experienced scientists and PhD students from both the School of Biosciences and the School of Physics. Beyond the research on the biosensor development, the group activities span across a range of topics, from solid state physics to bio-imaging and big data analysis. You will join regular meetings where group members will discuss their research and will also have the opportunity to attend School's and university wide scientific seminars 

Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview. Applicants will be asked to give a short presentation of their research experience and answer a series of panel questions. Interviews are expected to take place remotely via Zoom on 17/05/2022.

Funding Notes

The studentship is for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees, a stipend of £16,062 (subject to change) and includes access to a Research Training Support Grant (currently £4000).
EPSRC studentships are available to home and international students. International students will not be charged the fee difference between the UK and international rate. Applicants should satisfy the UKRI eligibility requirements. There is a limited amount of international funding available.

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