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PhD in Mechanical Engineering - Shape memory materials for multifunctional ultrasonic surgical devices


College of Science and Engineering

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Prof M Lucas , Dr Andrew Feeney No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Glasgow United Kingdom Acoustics Biomedical Engineering Biophysics Electrical Engineering Manufacturing Engineering Mechanical Engineering Medical Physics Materials Science

About the Project

The James Watt School of Engineering of the University of Glasgow is seeking a highly motivated graduate to undertake an exciting 3.5-year PhD project entitled: Shape memory materials for multifunctional ultrasonic surgical devices.

Ultrasurge (Surgery enabled by Ultrasonics) is an EPSRC funded Programme that is a partnership between 5 universities, the NHS and industries, with the aim of delivering miniature ultrasonic surgical devices integrated with tentacle robotics for minimally invasive surgeries.

The PhD project will investigate the incorporation of shape memory materials in miniature ultrasonic surgical devices so that the transformational properties of these materials can be exploited to allow active tuning of the ultrasonic parameters.

Ultrasonic surgical devices operate at a low ultrasonic frequencies (in the 20 – 60 kHz range) and are generally optimised for operation in one resonant mode of vibration at the ultrasonic frequency. This means that each device is tuned for a specific surgical procedure or target tissue interaction. However, there is a growing drive to realise ultrasonic devices capable of switching between different operating characteristics and to be multifunctional. For example, the ultrasonic device could be switched from hard tissue cutting to soft tissue cutting or cauterisation, or it could be switched between a cutting mode of operation to a mode that stimulates healing.

This is only possible by considering a different class of materials, those not commonly integrated with ultrasonic devices, but able to be trained to modify their characteristics in response to external stimuli. Shape memory materials have recently been investigated, where early results have shown promise for integration with ultrasonic devices. Tuneable-frequency nickel-titanium based ultrasonic transducers have been demonstrated, able to switch resonance in the order of kHz. These transducers were also able to instantaneously recover deformation to their vibrating surface, with the potential for remotely repairable ultrasonic devices. However, much remains unknown regarding the integration of shape memory materials with the design process of ultrasonic devices, with little investigation of the specific phase-dependent material characteristics such as superelasticity. The objective of this research is therefore to examine shape memory materials for integration with ultrasonic devices, to study their material properties, and propose how they can be controlled.

You will join a team of Ultrasurge researchers working on ultrasonic device miniaturisation and the research will form a crucial aspect of building multifunctionality into these devices. You will be based in the Centre for Medical & Industrial Ultrasonics (C-MIU) in the James Watt School of Engineering.

Application for this scholarship is made by using the online system at the following link:

(please select from list)

Please note that this application is to gain admission to our PGR programme, and an offer of admission may be issued before a decision on this Scholarship is made. Candidates applying for this Scholarship will most likely have an interview / discussion with the supervisors before any decision is made.

Start date between 1st March - 1st October 2021


Funding Notes

The studentship is supported by EPSRC , and it will cover home tuition fees and provide a stipend at the UKRI rate for 3.5 years (£15,285 for session 2020/21).


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