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Glancing angle deposition of ZnO nanostructured thin films for enhanced ultrasonic sensing and imaging applications

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Garcia
    Dr K McAughey
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires (NWs) are considered a promising material for sensors due to properties such as high reactive surface, high chemical stability, bio-compatibility, piezoelectricity, ultraviolet light sensitivity, etc. However, their integration on conventional and non-conventional flexible substrates is still a challenge. Glancing angle deposition (GLAD) has emerged as an attractive solution to produce high crystal quality ZnO nanostructured thin films (required for ultrasonic generation). This project is an ambitious investigation, aiming to further explore GLAD potential by growing ZnO-NWs directly on flexible substrates and to investigate their ability to generate shear and surface acoustic waves through an object for NDT over long distances.

This PhD will focus on the fabrication of multi-sensing wearable patches primarily for medical application purposes. The GLAD method proposed in this project not only has the potential to grow nanostructures with exceptional properties (i.e. high sensitivity and compatibility to flexible substrates) but also to make a novel use of plasma-assisted deposition techniques, taking benefit of the large-area and uniformity characteristics of such deposition method. The PhD student will investigate the sensitivity of metal oxide nanostructures such as ZnO NWs grown by GLAD method to multiple environments, including temperature variations and different lights.In addition, the PhD student will investigate suitable approaches to utilize sensors to harvest energy thanks to the piezoelectricity properties of ZnO material. That will allow the development of partially or even fully energy autonomous multi-sensing devices for continuous health monitoring purposes.

This project will be supported by the excellent research environment at Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging (TFSI) (academic host group) led by Prof. Desmond Gibson, at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). Dr. Carlos Garcia will be the PhD supervisor in the academic host group. Further, the integration and characterisation of ZnO-NWs ultrasonic sensors will be carried out at Novosound Ltd (industry host group) -with a wide experience in the field of Ultrasonic Imaging and Sensing Devices- under the supervision of Dr. Kevin McAughey (Industry supervisor) and Dr. Dave Hughes (CTO of Novosound).

Funding Notes

This is a Centre of Excellence for Sensing and Imaging Systems (CENSIS) funded industrially relevant doctoral research activity, comprising a PhD research project carried out at Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging at University of the West of Scotland in conjunction with Novosound.

This project is a 3.5 year full-time PhD study programme. Applicants (from UK and EU countries) will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent) or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project. The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate a solid educational background in material and plasma sciences.


Research Strategy and Research Profile

This project is part of the research activity of the following Research Groups:

• Academic host: Institute of Thin Films Sensors and Imaging at University of the West of Scotland (UWS) – Paisley Campus (

• Industry host: Novosound (

How good is research at University of the West of Scotland in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 7.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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