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High-speed imaging study of ultrasonic tissue cutting for surgery

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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Prof F Pierron No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Co-supervisor : Dr Aleksander Marek

Project description
The range of surgical tools for interventional procedures that dissect or fragment tissue has not changed significantly for millennia. There is huge potential for ultrasonic (US) devices to enable new minimal access surgeries, offering higher precision, much lower force, better preservation of delicate structures, low thermal damage and, importantly, enabling more procedures to be carried out on an outpatient or day surgery basis.

One of the challenges in developing a new generation of ultrasonically powered surgical tools is to understand the effects of ultrasonic vibrations on tissues like bone, cartilage or tendon. Of particular interest is the control of the dead cell zone at the vicinity of the tool tip. There are also opportunities to use different types of ultrasonic excitation to stimulate cell growth for enhanced post-operative healing.

As part of a large EPSRC Programme Grant led by Glasgow University and including the Universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Southampton, this PhD will look at using unique imaging capabilities at the University of Southampton to measure the deformation of tissues (bone, cartilage, tendon among others) during ultrasonic cutting. State of the art ultra-high speed imaging recording at up to 5 million frames per second and Digital Image Correlation ( will be used under a microscope to quantify the level of deformation of the tissue and relate it to cell mortality (see preliminary results). It is an extension of a new test called ‘Image-Based Ultrasonic Shaking’ (IBUS) developed as part of a prestigious EPSRC Fellowship grant. This data will be complemented by numerical simulations in an attempt to develop realistic US cutting models and validate the experimental data. Several animal model tissues or combinations of tissues will be studied. The results will be used in conjunction will cell-level deformation imaging currently underway to inform the design of the surgical tools by other partners of the grant.

This is a unique opportunity to join a dynamic and cutting-edge group of researchers in the UK to help tackle a multi-disciplinary problem encompassing biology, ultrasonics, robotics and mechanics of tissues. We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a taste for multidisciplinary research, experiments and numerical simulation. The ideal profile would be a bioengineering degree, or a mechanical engineering degree with some bioengineering contents, but exceptional students with other profiles will be considered.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof. Fabrice Pierron, PhotoDyn Research Group, Email: [Email Address Removed], Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2891.

Entry Requirements
A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,009 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Engineering and the Environment (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Fabrice Pierron under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include:
Research Proposal
Curriculum Vitae
Two reference letters
Degree Transcripts to date
Apply online:

For further information please contact: [Email Address Removed]

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