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PhD Studentship: Novel Antenna Systems for Biomedical Thermoacoustic Imaging

University of Birmingham - Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Funded - see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th December 2023
Closes: 4th March 2024

Summary: A PhD studentship is available in the Birmingham Photoacoustic Group. This is an interdisciplinary research group based in the School of Engineering and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences in the Medical School, and is closely linked with UCL’s Department of Medical Physics. One of the group’s interests is developing and applying an emerging medical imaging technique called thermoacoustic imaging [1]. In this technique, pulsed RF/microwave excitation is used to generate ultrasound in biological tissue. The ultrasound waves are detected to form high resolution images of the tissue [2]. The aim of the PhD is to design and fabricate antennas that are optimised to deliver microwave energy efficiently and uniformly to tissue placed in the near field of the antenna, to increase the signal-to-noise ratio, and consequently, the achievable imaging depth.

Background and aims: Medical imaging techniques have revolutionised medical practice by providing detailed anatomical and functional information about the human body, in order to detect and treat various diseases. Imaging with microwaves (0.3-3GHz) aims to exploit the difference in complex permittivity between various types of tissue, and tissue pathologies, to diagnose major diseases such as cancer. A major barrier to achieving this is the poor image resolution at the microwave frequencies required to image deep inside the body (due to the long wavelengths). Thermoacoustic imaging provides a means of addressing this limitation by eliminating the need to detect microwaves to form an image. Instead, microwaves are used to generate ultrasound in tissue, which has shorter wavelengths. By detecting the ultrasound waves (known as thermoacoustic signal) which propagate to the tissue surface, an image representing the microwave properties of the tissue can be formed, enabling microwave contrast to be exploited for high resolution medical imaging in a manner not possible with microwave imaging. The first step to generating thermoacoustic signals is to couple microwaves as efficiently and uniformly as possible to tissue, which is usually located very close to the antenna (in the near field). Existing antennas, which are designed for far-field radiation, poorly perform for this purpose.

The project will suit someone wishing to do a PhD developing a practical application of microwave systems in medical imaging. Applicants should have a first degree in Engineering, Physics or a related subject at 2:1 level or above (or equivalent). Existing knowledge in one or more areas of antennas, RF/microwave engineering, ultrasound, electronics, data acquisition is desirable. Also desirable is prior experience of research (e.g. a masters project). Essential criteria are an ability to manage your own time and keep updated with scientific literature. Also essential are enthusiasm, self-motivation and strong communication skills.

To apply: Please send a CV and covering letter to o.ogunlade@bham.ac.uk. Your letter should explain your relevant experience and why you are a suitable candidate for the project. Informal enquiries are welcome.

Funding notes:
Applicants will be interviewed to see if they should be recommended for the studentship. The successful candidate will then need to complete the University’s formal application process. The studentship will cover UK tuition fees and monthly stipend at UKRI rate for 3.5 years (currently £18,622 pa; tuition fee: £ £4,712 pa). International applicants from outside the UK will need to secure additional funding to cover the difference between international and UK fees.

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