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Low-power sensing and wireless communication for sustainable IoT networks (EPS2022/51)

   School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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  Dr Yuan Ding, Dr Chaoyun Song  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The recent upsurge of IoT investment and deployment nationally and internationally highlights a shared belief in the disruptive potential of IoT among industry and government. Despite these aspirations, major barriers impede the coordinated and sustainable deployment at a global scale. These are dominated by the lack of interoperability among numerous IoT standards and networks as well as the mind-boggling costs and environmental footprint involved in manufacturing, operation, maintenance, as well as disposal of billions of IoT tags.

Transcending IoT, which sets its boundary at a network of physical objects—‘things’—that are connected with other devices and systems over the Internet, we boldly envision a virtual ‘sensing fabric’ that is knitted through massive wirelessly connected IoT devices. By detecting the perturbation on the threads of the ‘sensing fabric’, i.e. the electromagnetic (EM) waves propagating among IoT nodes, orders of magnitude more and fine-grained insights and understanding of the world around us can be obtained, which, in turn, can transform services in our daily life. This disruptive sensing principle draws an analogy with detecting cosmic events through invisible gravitational waves, aka the ripples on space-time fabric. In a similar fashion, the envisioned smart dust fabric will not only convey information between its nodes, but will also exploit the disturbances on those wireless signals to sense the environment to deliver truly ubiquitous sensing for the benefit of the society. However attractive, this vision will never be realised while relying on the current wireless IoT technology base, since the required sheer amount (100- to 1000-fold more) of IoT nodes pose beyond-reach demands for sustainability, again, with regard to interoperability, cost, and energy consumption.

This project will be focused on the development of new sensing and communication technologies, as well as multi-source energy harvesting and power management system that can empower maintenance-free and self-sustainable operation for vast numbers of IoT devices and networks. A key technology is to integrate the electromagnetic energy, solar energy, thermal energy and vibrational energy into a single harvester using advanced packaging technology and low-cost materials, thereby producing environmentally aware robust power supply for a range of low-power electronics, wearables and smart sensors.

How to Apply

1. Important Information before you Apply

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:

(a) in ‘Study Option’

You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Chemistry PhD, Physics PhD, Chemical Engineering PhD, Mechanical Engineering PhD, Bio-science & Bio-Engineering PhD or Electrical PhD as appropriate and select September 2022 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)

(b) in ‘Research Project Information’

You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the potential supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts. 

Funding Notes

Doctor Training Programme, eligible for UK and EU Candidates.
There are a number of scholarships available which offer funding from between 3 and 3.5 years at an average stipend rate of £15,000 per year.


Chaoyun Song, Yuan Ding, Aline Eid, Jimmy Hester, Tony He, Ryan Bahr, Apostolos Georgiadis, George Goussetis, and Manos Tentzeris, “Advances in wirelessly powered backscatter communications: From antenna/RF circuitry design to printed flexible electronics,” IEEE Proc., 2021, in press. DOI: 10.1109/JPROC.2021.3125285
Ping Lu, Ka Ma Huang, Chaoyun Song, Yuan Ding, and George Goussetis, “Optimal power splitting of wireless information and power transmission using a novel dual-channel rectenna,” IEEE Trans. Antennas Propag., 2021. DOI: 10.1109/TAP.2021.3119045
Ricardo Torres, Ricardo Correia, Nuno B. Carvalho, Spyridon Daskalakis, George Goussetis, Yuan Ding, Apostolos Georgiadis, Aline Eid, Jimmy Hester, and Manos M. Tentzeris, “Backscatter communications,” IEEE J. Microw., vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 864–878, Sep. 2021. DOI: 10.1109/JMW.2021.3110058
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