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4-year PhD studentship: Deep tissue imaging using optical wavefront shaping: A computational investigation

University College London

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: The funding covers an annual tax free stipend (at least £17,009 p.a.) and tuition fees.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 7th June 2019
Closes: 21st June 2019

Supervisors: Dr James Guggenheim, Dr Peter Munro

Project summary

A 4-year PhD studentship is available in the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering. Funding covers an annual tax free stipend (at least £17,009 p.a.) and tuition fees. The studentship is funded by EPSRC and their eligibility criteria apply (see EPSRC website for further details). The successful candidate will join the UCL CDT in Intelligent, Integrated Imaging in Healthcare (i4health) and benefit from the activities and events organised by the centre.


Light based biomedical imaging techniques like optical microscopy have greatly impacted research and medicine. The key to their success is that light interacts strongly with biological tissues through scattering and absorption and therefore allows tissue properties to be probed quickly, safely and non-invasively. Unfortunately, these strong interactions also limit the maximum achievable imaging depth because scattering causes light to become disordered to the extent that imaging is made impossible. However, a new approach known as wavefront shaping (WFS) may allow optical images to be obtained at unprecedented depths in tissue. This is possible because the disorder induced by light scattering in tissue is not random but deterministic. WFS enables the light incident upon tissue to be shaped in a way that compensates for the disorder caused by scattering, thus allowing for light to be refocussed deep inside tissue, even in the presence of strong scattering. Recent experimental work has demonstrated the feasibility of this promising technique which could revolutionise biomedical optics by enabling high resolution optical imaging deep in tissue. However, further research into the mechanisms underlying WFS is needed in order to advance WFS from proof of concept studies to a mainstream imaging tool. This need presents an exciting opportunity to work on a project at the cutting edge of biomedical imaging.

Research Aims

The aim of this project is to address the need for greater understanding of the underlying physics and practical limitations of WFS through computational modelling. This will build upon existing work at UCL where the pseudo spectral time domain method has been used to perform full wave (i.e., including phase, polarisation, multiple scattering etc.) modelling of light propagation in tissue for other biomedical imaging applications. It will enable a range of new scientific studies including predicting the performance of different state of the art approaches to WFS, investigating the practical limits of WFS (e.g. in terms of focussing efficiency, speed, and robustness to motion) in different tissues and performing examinations of the underlying physics.

This is primarily a computational project with opportunities to engage in practical studies. It would suit a candidate who wants to develop rigorous computational models of optical physics that are directly relevant to the development of new practical techniques in the context of a world leading biomedical optical imaging group.


A degree in Physics (or related subject) at 2:1 level or above. Knowledge of optics and computer programming skills.

To Apply 

Send a CV and Covering Letter expressing your interest to Dr James Guggenheim

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