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Lab-on-GaN for manipulating cancer exosomes for cancer early diagnostics

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr X Yang
    Dr Aled Clayton
    Dr Z Xie
  • 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

A cancer becomes life-threatening when the primary tumour spreads from the place where it first started to another place in the body. The spreading process is called metastasis, a tumour formed by spreading cancer cells is called a metastatic tumour. It has been demonstrating the urgent need for increased knowledge about the cellular communication mechanisms between tumour cells and normal cells resulting in pathological metabolism in the metastatic site. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a distinct population of membranous vesicles of endocytic origin. They range from 30 to 150 nm in diameter and are released by cells upon fusion of intracellular multi-vesicular bodies with the plasma membrane. The project will develop a surface acoustic wave (SAW) transducer based on piezoelectric effect of Gallium Nitride (GaN) to separate cancer-derived EVs subpopulation from whole blood.

The supervisor team including experts in engineering, biology, oncology and physics has secured a number of research funding from the EPSRC, Wellcome Trust, GCRF, Royal Society, etc. to facilitate the development of the proposed project. The candidate will work in a multidisciplinary team with the objective to develop and implement the novel transducer for new real-time diagnosis and classification of cancer by using EV as a cancer marker, which will lead the international front of the area. The candidate will be working on wide range of cutting-edge laboratories and facilities with the support from postdocs and technician. The project is expected to complete within 3.5 years with the below research packages and milestones:

RP1 (M1 – 6) Literature studies on both the physics and biology knowledge and preliminarily deliver the technology development plan.

PR2 (M7 – 24) Development of the lab on GaN and test the device with standard samples.

RP3 (M25 – 33) Testing the device with clinical samples and preliminary implementation.

RP4 (M34 – 42) Documenting and writing up.


You should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.

Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a master’s degree. Applicants with a minimum Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply.

Funding Notes

Full awards, including the Tuition fee and maintenance stipend (Approx. £14,777 in 2018/19), are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education.


Applications should be made online at:

Please note the following when completing your online application:

The Programme name is Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering with an October 2019 start date.

In the "Research proposal and Funding" section of your application, please specify the project title, supervisors of the project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

Please select “No, I am not self-funding my research” when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

Please quote “XY-DTP-2019” when asked "Please provide the name of the funding you are applying for".

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