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PhD Studentship Opportunity in Development of Scalable Nanoelectronic Probes for High-Resolution Interrogation of Living Cells and Cell Networks

Project Description

Developing new cellular interrogation tools that push the limits of spatial and temporal resolution while reducing invasiveness to living cells and cell networks could produce breakthroughs in fundamental science and lead to revolutionary technologies for biology, medicine and healthcare. This project will focus on the use of ion implantation and focused ion beam milling as means of reproducibly fabricating scalable on-chip and three-dimensional flexible nanoelectronic probes for high-resolution cellular interrogation. Electrical, chemical and biological signals from living cells and cell networks will be studied via using these nanoelectronic probes. To discuss any details of the project informally prior to application, please feel free to contact Dr Yunlong Zhao ().

Applicants with background in electronics/nanofabrication or electrophysiology/tissue engineering are particularly encouraged to apply. The successful candidate will be employed by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) for four years and meanwhile register for a PhD at the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), University of Surrey. The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to collaborate closely with our industrial collaboration Stemnovate ( and work together on the organs-on-chip research using the developed on-chip or three-dimensional flexible nanoelectronic probes.

The project is highly interdisciplinary in a cutting-edge area of research at the interface between biology and electronics. The PhD student will gain expertise in electronic engineering, electrophysiology and metrology in both academia and industrial R&D. The research will be performed within a vibrant and dynamic environment in the laboratories of Dr Yunlong Zhao (, Prof Fernando Castro ( and Dr Ruchi Sharma ( at ATI, NPL, and Stemnovate. This PhD post is for a period of four years, but suitable candidates may be considered for a permanent position at NPL or Stemnovate.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the UK’s leading science facilities and research centres. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate standards, science and technology available. NPL occupies a unique position as the UK’s National Measurement Institute and sits at the intersection between scientific discovery and real-world application. Its expertise and original research have underpinned quality of life, innovation and competitiveness for UK citizens and business for more than a century. The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) is one of University of Surrey’s world-leading research centres. It brings together researchers with an international outlook in Quantum Information, Nanotechnology, Energy and Advanced Materials. The strategic partnership between the University of Surrey and NPL will help to shape the UK’s scientific priorities over the coming decades. Our industry partner Stemnovate ltd is a fast-growing technology company that provides lab on a chip platform for precision drug discovery. Their platforms uniquely integrate advanced stem cell research and microengineering. The company is recognised among “one to watch’ companies in 2020 in Cambridge.

This is a four year project, starting in April 2020, July or October 2020.

Entry requirements:
Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline or a lower second plus a good Master degree (distinction normally required). If English is not the first language, IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent) is required, with no sub-test score less than 6.

How to apply:
Formal applications should be submitted through the Advanced Technology Institute PhD course page: Please clearly state the title of the studentship and the supervisor on your application.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers the full costs of UK tuition fee, plus a stipend of approximately £18,300 p.a for UK students.

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