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Pushing the boundaries of 3D printed mechanisms for open source instrumentation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, May 13, 2018
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Sharing designs for lab instruments as “open source hardware” could bring about a step change in science and medicine, by making high quality instruments more widely available and easier to customise or automate. This is an opportunity for a talented student with a background in Physics, Engineering, or a related discipline, to study for a PhD aligned with the "Open Lab Instrumentation" [1] project that includes the Universities of Bath and Cambridge as well as our partners STICLab in Tanzania [2]. The project will improve the performance of 3D printed mechanisms, then use these optimised structures together with electronic and optical components to create microscopes, spectrometers, micromanipulators and more. Our first open instrument, the OpenFlexure Microscope [3], has already been reproduced by a number of groups, and tested in applications from malaria diagnostics to water quality monitoring.

You will develop interesting technology while at the same time applying it to real-world problems. Applications for low cost, open source instrumentation range from developing-world healthcare (e.g. diagnosis of malaria or tuberculosis with low cost microscopy) to parallelised, automated experiments across the physical and life sciences, enabled by small and inexpensive instruments. Developing this technology is a chance to learn how to write library-quality code and hardware documentation, and share it with users around the world. You will learn a range of experimental techniques, get extensive experience of programming and automation in languages including Python, and have the opportunity to visit our partners in Cambridge and Tanzania.

The project would suit someone with strong programming skills and an enthusiasm for mechanical design, but will be strongly interdisciplinary and require you to work with a diverse range of people – including medics, biologists, engineers, and charities.
You will be based within the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials (CPPM) in the Department of Physics at the University of Bath, which is a research-led Department, ranked highly in the UK in the latest Research Excellence Framework. Both the Department and the University are committed to supporting PhD students, through training courses such as the CPPM Graduate Lectures and the Doctoral College that provides guidance, training, and a chance to meet fellow doctoral students around the University.

This post is funded by a University of Bath studentship starting in October 2018. You will be supported by an experienced postdoctoral researcher as well as your main supervisor. This researcher, and many resources for the project, are funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, which supports cutting-edge research addressing the challenges faced by developing countries.

Please do get in touch with Dr. Richard Bowman ().

Funding Notes

UK and EU students applying for this project may be considered for a University Research Studentship which will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the RCUK Doctoral Stipend rate (£14,777 in 2018-19) for a period of 3.5 years.

Note: ONLY UK and EU applicants are eligible for this studentship; unfortunately, applicants who are classed as Overseas for fee paying purposes are NOT eligible for funding.


[1] News Article: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/news/2017/08/01/3d-printed-microscopes/
[2] STIClab: http://www.sticlab.co.tz/
[3] OpenFlexure Microscope on Github: http://rwb27.github.io/openflexure_microscope

Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 025104 (2016); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4941068

How good is research at University of Bath in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.00

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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