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Terahertz robotics for medical diagnosis

   Department of Physics

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  Prof Emma MacPherson  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Terahertz (1012 Hz, THz) pulsed imaging is a new technique with high

resolution (about 20 μm) and has only emerged recently as a potential

new clinical tool for medical imaging. It is a totally non-destructive and

non-ionising imaging modality as the average power of the pulse for

producing the radiation is as small as 100 nW. The radiation produced is

focused onto the sample of interest and then detected coherently. A

point measurement is analogous to an ultrasound A-scan. Reflections

off different layers are used to determine the structure at various

depths. THz light is very sensitive to hydrogen bonds. By Fourier

transforming the time-domain data, useful spectroscopic information

can also be revealed. Potential applications range from security imaging

to medical diagnosis, but the analysis and instrumentation needs to be

tailored for each application investigated. THz light can be generated

and detected using photoconductive antennas. The useable frequency

range of a THz system depends on the photoconductive devices as well

as other factors such as optical alignment.

The aim of this project is to take accurate and repeatable robotically controlled non-contact THz

measurements of skin with a view to developing classification algorithms for skin conditions. For

example, it may be possible to use THz imaging to detect early stages of skin cancer, or the lateral extent

of tumours that are beneath the skin’s surface, and not yet visible. Applicants do not need a medical

background, more importantly, they need an interest in robotics, programming, optics and data analysis.

Prof MacPherson joined Warwick University in 2017 and received a Wolfson Merit award to support her

research in the UK For more background

information regarding the Ultrafast THz Photonics group and Prof MacPherson’s research interests,

please see and

For further information do not hesitate to contact Prof MacPherson directly on

[Email Address Removed]

This is a fully funded-PhD studentship at standard UK Research Council rates, available with a flexible

start date from October 2022 onwards for a 3.5 year period. The Studentship covers university fees and

a living stipend, and is available to UK and EU students. For more information please see

Postgraduate - Department of Physics (

The student will be enrolled on the Materials Physics Doctorate scheme, giving access to a tailored

research degree to help you exploit our own outstanding materials growth, fabrication, characterisation

and computational capabilities, and those at central facilities. See for

more details

Funding Notes

Fully funded PhD studentship (42 months)

How good is research at University of Warwick in Physics?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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