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PhD Studentship: Advanced THz Microscopy for Biological Applications

University of Birmingham - School of Physics and Astronomy

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd April 2019
Closes: 21st July 2019

Sandwiched between microwaves and infrared in the electromagnetic spectrum, THz radiation (ca. 0.1 – 3 THz) holds promise for medical diagnosis, security applications (chemical fingerprinting and standoff screening) and industrial control processes. The potential of THz in these realms arises from the ability of THz radiation to pass through many optically opaque materials (e.g., clothing, paper, etc.), and the fact that specific rotations, vibrations or librations of molecules and molecular aggregates occur in this frequency range. In addition, THz radiation is non-ionizing and safe, unlike X-rays. Unfortunately, THz microscopy techniques are not as mature as optical microscopy, which is holding back its adoption beyond academia.

This PhD research programme will look at developing a THz imaging technique suitable for Life Sciences that exploits emerging concepts from infrared and optical microscopy as well as computer science (e.g. machine learning, compressive sensing, etc.). The PhD student will carry out specifically the following tasks: design, modelling, implementation, and calibration of the THz microscope along with developing the suitable image-processing algorithm. During calibration, the student will acquire image data on test objects using state-of-the-art time-domain and continuous-wave THz instruments. The last phase of the project will involve automation of the image acquisition (hardware and software). Other activities supporting the study will also be carried out when required.

We expect the PhD candidate to develop the expertise required to lead an experimental research project, to train undergraduate students and to interact with colleagues with different backgrounds (physics, engineering and computer science). Details of the project will be agreed with the interested candidates to tailor the research on his/her interests.

The research programme will take place in an international and interdisciplinary environment, which will substantially favour collaborative opportunities 1) within the School of Physics and Astronomy, 2) within Schools of Engineering, and 3) within other research institutions.

Applications are sought from highly motivated and resourceful students with a first degree (at least 2:1 or equivalent) in physics, engineering or computer science (and preferably a Master degree) who have strong experimental or computer skills.


Funding is awarded by the School on a competitive basis, depending on the strength of the applicant. The funding is only available to UK/EU nationals, and it will cover tuition fees and provide a stipend for 3.5 years.

Non-EU Students: If you have the correct qualifications and access to your own funding, either from your home country or your own finances, your application to work on this project will be considered.

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