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High sensitivity micro/nano optical fibre biosensor for bacterial detection (Advert reference: RDF20/EE/MPEE/WU)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Earlier diagnostic/detection for diseases (cancer, chronic or foodborne) enables doctors making rapid clinical decision, which considerably enhance the success of treatment and medical intervention and ultimately benefits to human health. Foodborne diseases have been a growing worldwide public health problem, which encompass a wide spectrum of illnesses, such as E-Coli, Salmonellosis, Listeriosis, and Gastroenteritis. To reduce the risk, high risk food products must be tested before being sold for consumption. The traditional technique for diseases earlier diagnostic is to culture diseases typically 1-2 days and then to do the test, which not only delays clinical decision, but also high cost. There is hence an urgent need to develop a high sensitivity, non-invasive biosensor for fast detection of diseases in earlier stage. The aim of this project is to develop a novel high sensitivity, fast response and easy operating biosensor device which can manipulate and sense biomolecules, utilizing fibre optic interferometry sensing technique integrated with multifunctional microfluidic systems.

The hypotheses of this project is that a tapered microstructure singlemode-multimode-singlemode fibre structure can achieve very high refractive index sensitivity. By proper surface functionalisation on the sensor, it can be used to detect very low concentration biological analytes. As an example for the application of the developed biosensor, it will be demonstrated for detection, identification and quantification of foodborne pathogens with very high sensitivity (10 CFU/mL) and fast response (<1 hours). To achieve this goal, we propose to integrate the sensor with microfluidic system for sample manipulation, mixing, separation, concentration and detection, where our collaborator, Prof. Nicole Pamme in University of Hull has extensive experience in microfluidic systems.

Requirements: Academically strong candidates are sought who have BSc or Master’s Degree in Applied Physics or Optics or a closely related discipline. Experience in optoelectronics, optical fiber communications or optical sensing is desirable.

The principal supervisor for this project is Dr Qiang Wu. The second supervisor will be Dr Darren Smith.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/EE/MPEE/WU) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020

Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU/Worldwide students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


1. Rahul Kumar, Yuankui Leng, Bin Liu, Jun Zhou, Liyang Shao, Jinhui Yuan, Xinyu Fan, Shengpeng Wan, Tao Wu, Juan Liu, Richard Binns, Yong Qing Fu, Wai Pang Ng, Gerald Farrell, Yuliya Semenova, Hengyi Xu, Yonghua Xiong, Xingdao He and Qiang Wu, “Ultrasensitive biosensor based on magnetic microspheres enhanced microfiber interferometer”, Biosensors & Bioelectronics, vol. 145, pp. 111563, 2019
2. Dejun Liu, Fengzi Ling, Rahul Kumar, Arun Kumar Mallik, Ke Tian, Changyu Shen, Gerald Farrell, Yuliya Semenova, Qiang Wu, Pengfei Wang, “Sub-micrometer resolution liquid level sensor based on hollow core fiber structure”, Optics Letters, vol. 44, no. 8, pp. 2125-2128, 2019
3. Xiaokang Lian, Qiang Wu, Gerald Farrell, Changyu Shen, Youqiao Ma, Yuliya Semenova, “Discrete Self-Imaging in Small-Core Optical Fiber Interferometers”, Journal of Lightwave Technology, vol. 37, no. 9, pp. 1873-1884, 2019
4. Dejun Liu, Rahul Kumar, Fangfang Wei, Wei Han, Arun Kumar Mallik, Jinhui Yuan, Shengpeng Wan, Xingdao He, Zhe Kang, Feng Li, Chongxiu Yu, Gerald Farrell, Yuliya Semenova and Qiang Wu, “High sensitivity optical fiber sensors for simultaneous measurement of methanol and ethanol”, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, vol. 271, 15 October, pp. 1-8, 2018 (Q1).
5. Peng Wang, Qiang Wu, Fuyan Wang, Yaping Zhang, Liying Tong, Tao Jiang, Chenjie Gu, Shuiping Huang, Hongxi Wang, Shizhong Bu & Jun Zhou, “Evaluating cellular uptake of gold nanoparticles in HL-7702 and HepG2 cells for plasmonic photothermal therapy”, Nanomedicine (Future Medicine), vol. 13, no. 18, pp. 2245-2259, Oct. 2018 (Q1)
6. Fangfang Wei, Arun Kumar Mallik, Dejun Liu, Qiang Wu, Gang-Ding Peng, Gerald Farrell & Yuliya Semenova, “Magnetic field sensor based on a combination of a microfiber coupler covered with magnetic fluid and a Sagnac loop”, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, 2017 (Q1)
7. Lei Sun, Yuliya Semenova, Qiang Wu, Dejun Liu, Jinhui Yuan, Member, Tao Ma, Xinzhu Sang, Binbin Yan, Kuiru Wang, Chongxiu Yu, and Gerald Farrell, “High sensitivity ammonia gas sensor based on a silica gel coated microfiber coupler”, IEEE Journal of Lightwave Technology, pp. 2864-2870, vol. 35, no. 14, 2017. (Q1)
8. Guorui Zhou, Qiang Wu, Rahul Kumar, Wai Pang Ng, Hao Liu, Longfei Niu, Nageswara Lalam, Xiaodong Yuan, Yuliya Semenova, Gerald Farrell, Jinhui Yuan, Chongxiu Yu, Jie Zeng, Gui Yun Tian and Yong Qing Fu, “High Sensitivity Refractometer Based on Reflective Smf-Small Diameter No Core Fiber Structure”, Sensors, vol. 17, no. 6, 2017.

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