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Flexible Polymer-Carbon Composites for Medical Sensing (Polymer Characterisation )

   School of Physics

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  Dr Patricia Scully  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Four Year PhD Scholarship in Flexible Polymer-Carbon Composites for Medical Sensing is available immediately from 1 October 2022. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland's Frontiers for the Future grant awarded to Dr Patricia Scully.

Closing date for applications: 15 September 2022 for an October start. 

This project is suitable for a student interested in Polymer Characterisation and Applications as Sensors. The student should have an interest in material and electronic analysis and instrumentation/signal processing.

Skills Acquired: The student will receive training on optical quality polymer material analysis and testing. They will perform chemical characterisation such as Raman, SEM, XPS, and electrical characterisation of DLW carbon structures. and evaluate the performance of structures and sensors. They will learn optical and chemical analytical techniques for chemical and electrical characterisation of materials and laser processing.

Background: New carbons, such as graphene, create novel electronics at an ultra-compact scale, replacing metals, silicon and semiconductors, but are disadvantaged by complex and toxic manufacturing methods, requiring process liquids/gases, clean rooms and controlled atmospheres. This project funded by SFI, will set up a research team supervised by Dr Scully, to create flexible polymers containing laser printed carbon structures, for sensing spatial variations in temperature, moisture and strain for smart polymer skins or smart dressings for wound healing, or contaminated or damaged surfaces in structural health monitoring. A single step direct laser writing (DLW) process creates 3D carbon structures within the polymer, to tune the composite conductivity, functionalization and sensitivity to strain, temperature and moisture.

Requirements: Applicants should demonstrate excellent performance at Undergraduate level and/or Masters level with interests/experience in material science or polymer chemistry, and laser material processing. They should have achieved a Degree in a Science or Engineering subject (Physics, Materials Science, Chemistry, Electrical or Mechanical Engineering) and be prepared to work in a multidisciplinary environment.

This research work will equip a student with skills in the following research areas:

Instrumentation: Photonic materials for sensors and devices, ranging from functional materials, to laser inscribed photonic and conducting structures in transparent materials that affect their optical and electronic properties. Signal processing, internet of things and integrating sensing structures into medical and body sensing devices.

Materials: Advanced functional materials, and their optical, materials and chemical properties for structures and devices. Nano-electronics, materials characterisation and analytical methods.

Manufacturing & Process analytics: industrial/manufacturing processes using laser and photonic technologies for sensors and devices. Key enabling technologies, such as laser/additive/subtractive manufacturing.

Application: Submit a covering letter, CV, statement of personal research interests, evidence of performance at BSc and MSc or equivalent and the contact details of two referees, to be submitted via e-mail to [Email Address Removed] by 15th September 2022. 

Funding Notes

Funded by recently awarded Science Foundation Ireland's Frontiers for the Future project.
The PhD student will be funded for 48 months: €96K including fees €5,500 (EU fees for EU residents) and annual stipend €18,500.
Outstanding International (Non EU) Candidates may be considered.
Closing date for applications: 15 September 2022 for an October start.


1. R.K.Biswas, R.K.Vijayaraghavan, P.McNally, G.M.O'Connor, P.Scully (2022).
Graphene growth kinetics for CO2 laser carbonization of polyimide, Materials Letters, Volume 307,2022, 131097,
​2. Biswas R.K., Farid N., O’Connor G. and Scully P. (2020). Improved conductivity of carbonized polyimide by CO2 laser graphitization. J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020,8, 4493-4501.
3. B.Dorin, P.Parkinson and P.Scully (2018). Three‑dimensional direct laser written graphitic electrical contacts to randomly distributed components. Applied Physics A, 124, (40), 340.
4. B. Dorin, P.Parkinson, P. Scully (2017). Direct laser write process for 3D conductive carbon circuits in polyimide. J. Mater. Chem. C, 5, 4923-4930
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