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Fully funded PhD studentship in Photonics: Early cancer diagnostics using evanescent wave Mid-IR spectroscopy

   Optoelectronics Research Centre

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  Dr Senthil Ganapathy  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Fully Funded PhD Studentship for UK students

Early cancer diagnostics using evanescent wave Mid-IR spectroscopy

University of Southampton - Optoelectronics Research Centre

The Optoelectronics Research Centre has a 40-year track record of pioneering contributions in photonics and is currently one of the largest and most dynamic research centres in this field world-wide. The Integrated Photonic Devices Group ( explores the fundamentals of guided wave optics at surfaces, with applications including telecommunications, biosensing and novel light sources, and is complemented by world-class photonic materials and fabrication facilities (

The Project: Cancer continues to be one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide. Cancer is associated with a very high mortality rate (50% survival at 10 years) as most cancers are diagnosed at a late stage. Recent advances have been made in early detection, though the assays employed are still experimental, highly expensive and can suffer from poor sensitivity and specificity. On the other hand, Mid-IR spectroscopy have shown to be robust in detecting cancer-specific analytes within the blood and other bodily fluids. However, conventional FTIR based measurements (including the use of ATR crystals) are insufficiently sensitive for such diagnostics at low analyte concentrations.

In this project, we will exploit highly sensitive evanescent wave Mid-IR spectroscopy using signal enhanced ATR chips and waveguide chips and will use machine learning approach for rapid early cancer diagnostics as well as therapy monitoring. In specific this project will involve the design and fabrication of highly sensitive disposable ATR and waveguide chips optimised for cancer (breast and ovarian) biomarker sensing. The fabricated chips will be utilised for Mid-IR spectroscopy of blood plasma samples obtained from our collaborators from Cancer Research UK at Cambridge University and the results will be analysed using machine learning and deep learning algorithms specifically developed for this purpose.

The PhD programme: Our world-leading research centre is a hive of activity with over 200 staff and students working on cutting-edge research to provide innovative solutions for real life problems in health-care, manufacturing, communication technology, defence, renewable energy and the environment.

We are looking for the photonics pioneers of the future to join our vibrant research team and work alongside our world-class researchers to make history. Our Photonics PhD programme offers a solid start to any career in optics and photonics, whether you are planning to stay in academia or work in industry.

Supervision: This project will be supervised by Dr. Senthil Ganapathy

Entry requirements: first or upper second-class degree or equivalent in physics, materials science, chemistry, photonics or electronic/electrical engineering.

English language: IELTS 6.0, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component; for information on other accepted English Language tests, please visit

Duration: Typically 3.5 years (full-time)

Start date: Typically September (but other start dates are possible)

Applying: To apply, please submit an application for a PhD in the Optoelectronics Research Centre to the University of Southampton including that you wish to do a PhD on the above topic and with the supervisor mentioned above. For more details

Closing date: Applications should be made as soon as possible.

Contact: You are welcome to contact Dr. Senthil Ganapathy ([Email Address Removed]) for further details and an informal discussion.

Funding Notes

Funding: Full funding is available for UK applicants which includes paid tuition fees and tax-free bursary of £18,000 per annum to cover the living expenses.

EU/International applicants may also be considered for fully-funded scholarships. Obtaining support from other sources (or self-funding) for living expenses will increase chances of a successful application. EU students are considered equivalent to UK students if they have “settled status” in the UK or have “pre-settled status” and fulfil residency requirements.

International students are encouraged to seek full/partial funding from other sources (e.g. national scholarships, commonwealth scholarships, self-funding etc).

For further information, visit

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