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Paper-based microfluidic devices for point-of-care disease diagnosis

   School of Advanced Technology

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  Dr P Song, Dr K Hoettges  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Principal supervisor: Dr. Pengfei Song (XJTLU)

Co-supervisor: Dr. Chunfeng Yue (JITRI)

Co-supervisor: Dr. Kai Hoettges (UoL)

Project Description:

Microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (μPADs) represent a powerful platform technology for point-of-care (POC) diagnostics. This project aims to fill a key technological gap in the field of paper-based microfluidics, which is the lack of automated paper-based diagnostic platforms for carrying out multi-step immunoassays in a rapid and automated fashion with low assay cost and high sensitivity. A paper-based microfluidic diagnostic platform will be developed and applied to rapid detection of COVID-19 and influenza antigen markers in a sample-in-answer-out (SIAO) manner. The specific aims include: i) to design and test a μPAD with automatically controlled paper valves for conducting automatic multi-step enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs); ii) to develop a colorimetric reader for hosting the μPAD, controlling the paper valves, and reading out the colorimetric ELISA signals; and iii) to assess the clinical performance of the paper-based platform using patient samples. The proposed diagnostic platform features low cost, ease of operation, high sensitivity, excellent specificity, and short assay time, which will significantly benefit the health of the Chinese society during the current COVID-19 pandemic and in the post-pandemic era.

For more information about doctoral scholarship and PhD programme at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU): Please visit

Supervisor Profile:

Principal and co-Supervisor:

Publication: Dr. Pengfei Song (XJTLU) and Dr. Kai Hoettges (UoL) are well-recognized by publishing papers on PNAS, Nature Commutations, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Microsystems & Nanoengineering (a Nature Partner Journal).

Real-world impact and awards: Dr. Kai’s work on microfluidic chip has been sent to international space station for practical use. Pengfei also received several awards, to name a few: the Best Paper Award in Microfluidics Symposium at ASME 2014 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, the Best Conference Paper Award Finalist and the Best Automation Paper Award Finalist at IEEE 2015 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA' 2015), and the Editor’s Pick Article Award and the Best Paper Award Finalist from AIP’s Biomicrofluidics.

Research communities’ recognition: Pengfei holds several editorial board seats in multiple well-recognized journals: the Associate Editor of IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, the Young Editor of a Science/AAAS partner journal, Cyborg and Bionic Systems and the program committee member of IEEE International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales (IEEE-MARSS, a flagship forum in automation and robotics at micro/nano scale).


The candidate should have a first class or upper second class honours degree, or a master’s degree (or equivalent qualification) in various engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, material science and engineering, and biomedical engineering.

Evidence of good spoken and written English is essential. The candidate should have an IELTS score of 6.5 or above, if the first language is not English. This position is open to all qualified candidates irrespective of nationality.


The student will be awarded a PhD degree from the University of Liverpool (UK) upon successful completion of the program.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants are advised to email [Email Address Removed] (XJTLU principal supervisor’s email address) the following documents for initial review and assessment (please put the project title in the subject line).

  • CV
  • Two reference letters with company/university letterhead
  • Personal statement outlining your interest in the position
  • Proof of English language proficiency (an IELTS score of 6.5 or above)
  • Verified school transcripts in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required)
  • Verified certificates of education qualifications in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required) 
  • PDF copy of Master Degree dissertation (or an equivalent writing sample) and examiners reports available

Funding Notes

This PhD project is a collaborative research project between XJTLU ( in Suzhou and JITRI (Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute) Micro-Nano Automation Institute in Suzhou. The student will be registered as an XJLTU PhD student but is expected to carry out his or her research at XJTLU and the institute.
The PhD studentship is available for three years subject to satisfactory progress by the student. The award covers tuition fees for three years (currently equivalent to RMB 80,000 per annum).
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