Living organisms can be described as electrical systems that generate and conduct electrical signals to maintain several vital physiological processes. For instance, neurons communicate via electrical signaling to process and store information. Accurate high-resolution and long-term imaging of these signals is extremely important to elucidate how brain functions as well as providing the means for understanding progression of neurological and mental disorders.
The Optics and Photonics Group is developing a novel optical microscopy technology that is capable of imaging electrical potential, electrical impedance and electrochemical activity of biological systems, at molecular and cellular levels. This research aims to produce a thorough understanding of the generation and conduction of electrical signals. The promised high-resolution electrical phenotyping provides novel approaches to inspect the health of living tissue and offers biomarkers that can be used, for instance, in cancer diagnosis, characterisation of stem-cell therapeutic derivatives or testing a new neurological treatment.
An example of impedance images1 is shown in Fig.1 where electrical capacitance is measured optically with a sub-micrometre resolution. This new generation represents a step change in the field of impedance spectroscopy that demonstrated a great success as a label-free cell sensing technique2-4 over the last 30 years.
PhD applications are invited from highly motivated students with background in physics, engineering, chemistry or biology with flexibility on the project focus. Successful candidates will be supervised by multidisciplinary team of academics and clinicians and will have the opportunity to pursue their interest focusing on instrumentation engineering; signal and image processing; novel plasmonic sensors; electrophysiology; neuroimaging; or cancer diagnostics.