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Two PhD positions (in design and manufacturing of sensors and actuators) at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK

Two funded PhD positions available at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (www.hw.ac.uk). Details below and can be found on www.findaphd.com. Both positions are funded for 3 or 3.5 years, jointly supervised by the Tissue Mechanics Group (https://tissuemech.hw.ac.uk/) and Applied Optics and Photonics Group (https://www.aop.hw.ac.uk/) with clinical and industrial advisors. The successful candidates will also be working, as an associate PhD student, with a number of on-going EPSRC projects that the team is working on (e.g. https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/V047612/1), in the areas of tissue biomechanics, medical devices and precision manufacturing for clinical and surgical applications.

* Please note the two positions have different requirements and independent selection process.

* Application Deadline: Monday, February 28, 2022

 

Background:

We offer a 3 or 3.5 years fully-funded PhD position for a highly motivated candidate with strong interest in scientific research and applying knowledge in Engineering and Physical Sciences to bioengineering and biomedical fields.

The growing application of micro-mechanics brought about by advanced manufacturing techniques has raised the possibility of sensing and actuation at a microscale. There is huge scope and opportunity for precision control of displacement and/or force in biomedical and surgical applications, including neuro/cardiovascular surgery, deep tissue sampling and micro-robotic manipulation. To empower the manufacturing processes with the capability of actuator and mechanism design, structural design and optimisation methods are pivotal to achieving non-intuitive designs or those with highly complex geometric and manufacturing constraints.

 

1. Topology Optimisation and Laser-based Manufacture of Micro-Actuators for Medical Applications

This PhD project will explore the structural optimisation methods for micro-actuators, including mechanically and thermally-driven mechanisms, and integrate the framework of design optimisation with laser-based manufacturing. The initial focus would be on simplified 2D structure achieving simple but clinically-relevant force or displacement controlled actuation, and then move onto more realistic applications. The techniques will involve topology optimisation and its associated computational structural design methods, and a number of novel laser-based manufacturing such as subtractive and additive manufacturing along with conventional thin film and patterning.

The PhD research will be carried out, jointly, between the Tissue Mechanics Group (https://tissuemech.hw.ac.uk/) and the Applied Optics and Photonics Group (http://www.applied-optics-photonics.hw.ac.uk/). The PhD candidate will work with a highly multidisciplinary group of researchers with a range of complementary expertise and lab facilities, to develop academic research skills as well as those for personal and career development, and will have opportunities to be involved in broader research context in medical device design and manufacturing, e.g. MDMC (https://mdmc.hw.ac.uk/). The PhD work will be associated with a newly-funded £1.25M EPSRC grant awarded to the supervisory team (''Mechanically-intelligent'' Intra-operative Tissue Assessment for Robot-Assisted Surgery (MIRAS)) and the candidate will have opportunity to interact and collaborate with the industrial and clinical advisors on the project and through the network of research groups.

All applicants should have or expect to have a 1st class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in mechanical engineering, solid mechanics, materials engineering, biomedical engineering, applied physics or other related disciplines. The ideal candidate should be highly-motivated and have good written and oral communication skills as well as genuine interest in research and publishing your work. Previous experience, e.g. through a relevant undergraduate project, in computational mechanics and structural optimisation, with computer programming knowledge in MATLAB or Python, is desired but not essential. The project will require both individual and group work therefore effective operation in both environments is highly desired.

Informal enquiry for this PhD position should be sent to Dr Bill MacPherson (W.N.MacPherson@hw.ac.uk)

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2. Development of instrumentation for dynamic tissue monitoring during robotic surgery

This PhD project will explore the prospect for additional sensing modality for robotic surgery probes. It is envisaged that this will explore the use of fibre optics in the sensing of deformable, internal bio-structures or other material interface. For example, a moving object or a 'beating' internal body part, or tissue that is being deformed during investigation or surgery. This has the prospect of sensing the dynamic behaviour of the region under investigation and use that information to provide additional insight to clinicians regarding the region of interest. This research is likely to involve fibre system development and novel senor head fabrication which could include novel laser-based manufacturing such as subtractive and additive manufacturing.

The PhD research will be carried out, jointly, between the Applied Optics and Photonics Group (http://www.applied-optics-photonics.hw.ac.uk/) and the Tissue Mechanics Group (https://tissuemech.hw.ac.uk/). The PhD candidate will work with a highly multidisciplinary group of researchers with a range of complementary expertise and lab facilities, to develop academic research skills as well as those for personal and career development, and will have opportunities to be involved in broader research context in medical device design and manufacturing, e.g. MDMC (https://mdmc.hw.ac.uk/). The PhD work will be associated with a newly-funded £1.25M EPSRC grant awarded to the supervisory team (''Mechanically-intelligent'' Intra-operative Tissue Assessment for Robot-Assisted Surgery (MIRAS)) and the candidate will have opportunity to interact and collaborate with the industrial and clinical advisors on the project and through the network of research groups.

 

All applicants should have or expect to have a 1st class undergraduate degree (at MEng or MPhys level or equivalent) in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, applied physics or other related disciplines. The ideal candidate should be highly-motivated and have good written and oral communication skills as well as genuine interest in research and publishing your work. Previous experience, e.g. through a relevant undergraduate project, in optical sensing, material processing or microfabrication, is desired but not essential. The project will require both individual and group work therefore effective operation in both environments is highly desired.

Informal enquiry for this PhD position should be sent to Dr Yuhang Chen (Y.Chen@hw.ac.uk)

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How to apply:

 

Informal enquiry should be sent to the primary supervisor indicated above.

Formal applications must be made through the Heriot-Watt on-line application system: https://www.hw.ac.uk/study/apply/uk/postgraduate.htm. You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’ in ‘Physics’ and insert the primary supervisor’s name in the project details. This information will help us in receiving your application.

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