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Overcoming the penetration depth limitations of optical coherence tomography in clinical dentistry using full electromagnetic wave computer models

Institute of Dentistry

About the Project


In healthcare, imaging is one of the most important diagnostic tools available. Deep tissue imaging is usually achieved using either ionising X-Ray radiation, MRI which is expensive or ultrasound, which has low resolution. Light based imaging typically cannot penetrate deep within tissue. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive 3D imaging technique that can look 1-2 mm beneath the tissue surface. It has become popular clinically in fields such as ophthalmology and intra-vascular imaging and is now being explored for diagnostics and treatment monitoring in oral healthcare. Whilst useful for detecting superficial disease, elimination of X-Ray imaging from dentistry requires tissue imaging depths of 1 cm or more.


Recent progress in full electromagnetic wave modelling of OCT imaging now provides a computational framework within which to explore this problem. Therefore, by using these models this PhD aims to:

• Develop a theoretical framework for solving the inverse scattering problem based upon coherence gated imaging
• Develop strategies to solve the inverse problem of recovering deep tissue structure based upon optical coherence tomography imaging.
• Design (and possibly test) an experimental OCT based imaging system with an extended imaging depth range.

Research environment:

Queen Mary University of London is a highly-ranked research university and a member of the UK’s Russell Group of leading universities. This work will be interdisciplinary, based in Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London and jointly supervised with the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.

Person specification:

The project would suit a candidate from a numerate discipline (Physics, Mathematics, Engineering or Computer Science) with a strong mathematics and computer programming background and a desire to impact upon real-world healthcare.

How to apply:

For more information regarding the project, please contact Dr P Tomlins ()

Applications should be submitted through the Queen Mary application system. Please indicate the project title and supervisor in the ‘Research Degree Programmes - Additional Questions’ section of the application.

Alongside the application form, please send the following supporting documents:
• Curriculum Vitae (CV)
• Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts
• Proof of English language ability for overseas applicants from non-English speaking countries
• A one-side A4 statement of purpose. This should set out your previous academic or other experience relevant to the proposed research; why you wish to undertake this research at QMUL; your previous research or professional training and what further training you think you will need to complete a PhD; and what ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking this research.
• Two references. At least one reference must be from an academic referee who is in a position to comment on the standard of your academic work and suitability for postgraduate level study. Where appropriate, a second referee can provide comment on your professional experience.

Please contact with any queries about the application process.

Funding Notes

We will consider applications from prospective students with a source of funding to cover tuition fees and bench fees for three years full-time or 6 years part-time. Both self-funded and sponsored students will be considered.

UK and EU nationality self-funded students might be eligible for both the cost of tuition fees and a yearly stipend over the course of the PhD programme from the Student Finance England: View Website

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