EPSRC DTP PhD studentship: Brillouin imaging applied to collagen and elastic fibres

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Main Supervisor: Dr Francesca Palombo (University of Exeter)

Brillouin imaging is an emerging powerful tool for contact-free micromechanical analysis of biological samples. The obtained physical information is indicative of structure, function, and any changes e.g. due to disease occurrence, providing diagnostic capability – as already demonstrated in ophthalmological applications.

This project will develop a Virtually Image Phased Array (VIPA)-based Brillouin microscope and the application of Brillouin imaging to the fundamental building blocks of connective tissues, the collagen and elastin protein fibres. Previous studies have determined the full elasticity tensor of the fibres, ligament and articular cartilage using Brillouin spectroscopy (Palombo et al. J R Soc Interface 2014; Edginton et al. J Vis Exp 2016) and correlated the obtained elastic moduli with the Young’s moduli derived from macroscopic stress-strain testing (Edginton et al. Submitted).

The proposed novel approach to Brillouin microscopy offers invaluable advances towards rapid mapping of biomedical samples such as the protein fibres with good extinction of elastic light scattering. Optimisation of the contrast for the analysis of turbid materials will be performed as one of the main objectives of this project.

This project is aimed at characterising the micromechanics and viscoelasticity of collagen and elastic fibres of the extracellular matrix using Brillouin microscopy. In the context of our research, this project will provide an invaluable new biophotonic method for the study of biomedical samples providing complementary information to the current world-class capabilities within the Biophysics group.

3.5 year studentship: The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

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South West England