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PhD positions in innovative application of x-rays in materials and tissue analysis

Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering

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Prof A Olivo Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering at UCL is inviting applications for a studentship in the development in innovative applications of x-rays to materials and tissue analysis.

The Department is proud to host internationally-leading research groups covering a broad range of activities and spread over several sites. Our staff and students have a diverse range of interests and expertise, covering many areas of physics, engineering, medicine, physiology, computer science, and mathematics. This provides a highly stimulating multidisciplinary environment for learning and for scientific research.

The UCL Advanced X-Ray Imaging group (AXIm, has received strategic funding from UK Research and Innovation and the Royal Academy of Engineering to support a partnership tasked with developing disruptive applications of x-rays in science, industry, medicine and security.

The partnership includes UCL’s Photonic Innovations Lab ( and Centre for Inverse Problems (, AXIm’s principal industrial partner Nikon X-Tek Systems (NXTS,, as well as additional industrial (ISDI, Scintacor and Quantum Detectors) and scientific (EMPA) partners as well as three synchrotrons (Diamond, Elettra and the ESRF).

Studentship Description
Research activity will be comprehensive as is necessary to fulfil the goal of creating disruptive approaches to x-ray science.
Specific activities include:
1. Cutting-edge x-ray imaging modalities. Novel x-ray imaging solutions (e.g. combining ultra-small angle scattering, phase-contrast, energy-resolved etc.) will be developed to target areas where existing technology fails to deliver the required results, including new composite materials, additive manufacturing, forensics, regenerative medicine, biomaterials. Students will be trained on the use of innovative source, detector and optical technologies available at the AXIm and NXTS labs, combine them to create new imaging approaches, and develop new tools through involvement in strands 2-3.
2. Nanofabrication/nanotechnology for novel x-ray optics. This will include comprehensive training and work in the state-of-the-art clean-rooms at UCL and in the laboratories of the photonic innovations lab. Tasks include photolithographic patterning, reactive ion and chemical etching, metal deposition, surface characterisation and other advanced nanotechnology processes. Students in the fabrication strand will interact closely with group members who design and characterise the x-ray optical elements.
3. Detector development. Detectors play a major role in the development of new imaging techniques, and three detector companies are partners on this programme. Students will work with these companies to develop new detector solutions matching the requirements of the new imaging approaches, developing skills in sensor design and fabrication, and ultimately integrate the detectors in innovative imaging systems.
4. Computational imaging and artificial intelligence. New imaging techniques produce complex datasets requiring advanced analysis and interpretation. Students will be trained in cutting-edge computational methods that they will adapt to the specific needs of the imaging techniques (e.g. phase retrieval, 3D reconstruction, integration of complementary information), and in artificial intelligence approaches that will be used for both data reconstruction and feature/material identification.

Person Specification
The partnership places a high priority in integrating these activities so students will be expected to work across research strands, spend time in both academia and industry, and participate in experiments at synchrotrons. Students will train as a cohort and have access to a wide range of training opportunities both at UCL and at the collaborating companies; existing students involved in AXIm’s industrial collaborations will act as transition mentors/ambassadors.

Applications (including a cover letter, CV and names of two referees) and informal queries should be sent to Ms Mohini Nair ([Email Address Removed]) cc’ing Prof Alessandro Olivo ([Email Address Removed]); scientific queries to Prof Olivo.

Funding Notes

We will initially offer five 4-year studentships, available to UK and EU students, covering fees and stipend (initially ca. £17,300 p.a.). Posts will be assigned on a first come first served basis to exceptional candidates following an interview. Candidates must have a UK first class or 2:1 honours degree, an MSc, or their international equivalent in physics, maths, engineering or related subjects.
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