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Piezoelectric thin film based acoustic waves for biological applications (Advert Reference: RDF18/MPE/FU)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Prof R Fu  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A typical lab-on-chip (LOC) device consists of sensing element, control and signal processing, and microfluidic components for bio-sample preparations and chemical reactions. Acoustic waves have unique advantages for LOC device because they can be used for both sensing and microfluidic actuation. Acoustofluidics can handle liquid volumes from picolitres to tens of microlitres for mixing, pumping, jetting and nebulisation, and can also manipulate particles/cells/bacteria inside the microchannels. In this PhD project, we will explore generation of various modes of acoustic waves using piezoelectric materials and advanced thin films on various substrates, and will study thing film based wave mode generations, and then apply these wave modes together with nanomaterials and nanostructures for microfluidic functions and bio-detection. The research will also be focused on interaction of biological cells and bacteria in the liquid with acoustic waves, aiming for wide potential applications in bacteria treatment, drug delivery, cell manipulation, antibiotic resistance and gene analysis. Effects of various designs of electrodes or interdigital transducers and microfluidics properties as well as usages of microchamber and microchannels will be investigated. The work includes both experimental and simulation/theoretical studies of acoustic wave generations and identification of wave modes as well as wave/cell interactions.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see:

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF18/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 3 July 2018

Start Date: 1 October 2018

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa) and fees.


1. T. D. Nguyen, V. T. Tran, Y. Q. Fu, and H. Du, Patterning and manipulating microparticles into 3D matrix using standing surface acoustic waves, Appl. Phys Lett., 112 (2018) 21, 213507. DOI: 10.1063/1.5024888.
2. Y.Q. Fu, J.K. Luo, N.T. Nguyen, A.J. Walton, A.J. Flewitt, X.T Zu, Y. Li, G. McHale, A. Matthews. E. Iborra H. Du, W.I. Milne, Advances in piezoelectric thin films for acoustic biosensors, acoustofluidics and lab-on-chip applications, Progress in Mater Sci. 89 (2017) 31-91. Article reference: JPMS447, DOI: 10.1016/j.pmatsci.2017.04.006.
3. Yongliang Tang, Dongyi Ao, Wei Li, Xiaotao Zu, Sean Li, Yong Qing Fu, NH3 sensing property and mechanisms of quartz surface acoustic wave sensors deposited with SiO2, TiO2, and its composite films, Sens Actuat B, 254 (2018) 1165-1173. DOI: 10.1016/j.snb.2017.07.195.
4. C. Fu, A.J. Quan, J.T. Luo, H.F. Pang, Y. J. Guo, Q. Wu, W.P. Ng, X.T. Zu, and Y.Q. Fu, Vertical jetting induced by shear horizontal leaky surface acoustic wave on 36°Y-X LiTaO3, Appl. Phys Lett., 110 (17):173501 · April 2017, DOI: 10.1063/1.4982073.
5. J. T. Luo, N. R. Geraldi, J. H. Guan, G. McHale, G. G . Wells, Y. Q. Fu, Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) and Surface Acoustic Wave Droplet Transportation, Phys Rev. Appl. 7 (2017) 014017. DOI:
6. Y. Liu, Yifan Li, Ahmed. M. el-Hady, C. Zhao, J. F. Du, Y. Liu, Y.Q. Fu, Flexible acoustofluidics based on ZnO film coated aluminium foil, Sens. Actuat. B, B 221 (2015) 230–235. doi:10.1016/j.snb.2015.06.083,

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