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University of Bath URSA project: Development of innovative catalytic nanostructures for the next generation battery-free healthcare devices

   Department of Chemical Engineering

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  Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo, Dr Hannah Leese  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the University of Bath URSA competition.


Every year chronic diseases, including diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases, cause 40 million deaths worldwide. This toll is predicted to double in the next twenty years, based on an aging population, population growth and unhealthy lifestyles.

This PhD project seeks to enhance the quality of life of the millions worldwide affected by chronic conditions, and reduce the incidence of the associated premature deaths, by developing cutting-edge battery-free implantable devices for personalised medicine.

Current implantable medical devices are invasive, primarily due to the need for a power source, typically lithium–ion batteries, which can represent over 80% of the total volume and weight of a device. Lithium batteries hinder long-term use and comfortable deployment of medical devices because they are difficult to miniaturise and require high-risk surgeries for battery-replacement in implantable devices. Moreover, lithium batteries heavily contribute to e-waste. The development of devices that do not rely on these batteries can not only enhance the quality of life of patients affected by chronic conditions but can also markedly reduce pollution and help safeguard our planet.

To achieve this vision, this project will focus on the development of innovative glucose fuel cells for battery-free healthcare devices that are powered by the sugars naturally present in physiological fluids. The project’s objectives are:

1)     To generate nanostructured catalysts for glucose fuel cells that mimic the activity of oxidoreductase enzymes, whilst having a much higher stability and longer lifetime.

2)     To integrate the nanostructures developed into innovative glucose fuel cell designs and to demonstrate stable energy harvesting from bodily fluids.

The project is inherently multidisciplinary, integrating material science and nanotechnology with catalysis, electrochemistry, fuel cell technology and engineering.

With this project, you would be part of the vibrant C3Bio (Centre for Biosensors, Biosystems and Biodevices).

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent) in Engineering, Material Science, Biotechnology, Electrochemistry or similar disciplines. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement by February 2023 in order to be considered for funding.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are encouraged! Direct these to Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo - [Email Address Removed]

Please make a formal application should via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemical Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for the URSA studentship competition in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements:

  • UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and strive to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We encourage applications from under-represented groups. In particular, we are welcoming applications from candidates with Refugee, Asylum Seeker, or Humanitarian Protection in the UK to our Doctoral Sanctuary Studentship in Engineering and Design.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

The Disability Service ensures that individuals with disabilities are provided the support that they need. If you state if your application that you have a disability, the Disability Service will contact you as part of this process to discuss your needs.

Keywords: Applied Chemistry; Bioengineering; Biomedical Engineering; Biotechnology; Chemical Engineering; Materials Science - Other; Nanotechnology; Polymers

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University of Bath (URSA) studentship tenable for 3.5 years. Funding covers tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a stipend (£17,668 p/a in 2022/23) and a £1000/annum training budget.
As URSA studentships only cover the ‘Home’ tuition fee rate, Overseas students are not eligible to apply. Are you an Outstanding Overseas student (e.g. with a UK Masters Distinction or international equivalent) who is interested in this project? If so, please contact the intended supervisor in the first instance, to discuss the possibility of applying for additional funding.

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