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PhD Studentship: mm-wave Imaging for Cancer Detection (CDT in Metamaterials, PhD in Physics)

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

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £15,609
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th November 2021
Closes: 17th February 2022
Reference: 4369

Radiation in the mm-wave band is intrinsically safe, non-ionising and non-destructive. These frequencies also correspond to a “sweet spot” in the electromagnetic spectrum, where radiation can pass unimpeded through fatty tissues that normally scatter or absorb infrared and visible radiation, while giving rise to useful contrast in protein rich tissues for cancer imaging. This contrast arises primarily from the differing water content in tissues, allowing one to effectively image the water rich tumour tissue through the normally opaque, surrounding fatty tissue. The problem with standard implementations of RF and mm-wave imaging is depth determination - how does one determine the depth of healthy tissue across the entire surface of a tumour? 

In this project we will develop a new strategy to this well-known problem using frequencies in the range 10 to 50 GHz. Combining this with Exeter developed techniques for near field modulation [1-3] and super-resolution imaging [4], we will be able to image water contrast at differing depths within tissues. We will first optimise the technique, tuning the imaging depth of view to match current guidelines for breast cancer margins, before testing our imaging approach by measuring excised breast samples in the operating theatre unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, using histopathology and deep Raman measurements for comparison at known locations. Once fully designed and optimised, we believe that this approach could reduce the occurrence of second surgeries, cancer reoccurrence and metastasis. 

Cohort-based training in the CDT in metamaterials:

You will be part of the Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation and join its doctoral training programme, the Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2). 

The PhD students learn together in targeted courses, self-driven activity groups, and events with exposure to industry to gain scientific background knowledge beyond their areas of expertise, and to equip themselves with transferable professional skills such as creative thinking, project management, and leadership. 

To date, our graduates went on to careers in academia and industry, and started to act as role models for the next generation of researchers. 

We believe in the benefits of a cohort model that fosters knowledge exchange and peer support to prevent isolation. 

Contact the student advisory group if you'd like to learn more about the CDT from your potential new peers! 

Entry Requirements: 

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second-Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in Physics or an appropriate area of science or technology.   

Applicants must have a working knowledge of optics and have taken modules in optics and/or electromagnetism during their undergraduate degree. Proficiency in programming using Python, Matlab or Labview would also be helpful. 

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis with interviews expected to be within four weeks of receipt of application. Once a successful applicant has been appointed the project will be withdrawn. 

Funding Details

The University of Exeter’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials, with industry partners QinetiQ, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship. The studentship can commence in early 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.

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