School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Nanoscale bioelectronics for point-of-care diagnostics and wearable devices

Project description

The uncovering of biomarkers holds great potential in the early detection of disease and physiological dysfunction, and miniaturized/portable sensing apparatuses can allow for continuous functionality in diagnostic or treatment. Low-cost processability and multipurpose analysis capability are among the most sought–out features that a device would need to possess to tackle the global Biosensor market. 

In this project, we will combine expertise in conducting polymer synthesis (Nielsen) with nanoscale device assembly and fabrication (Palma) to develop novel bioelectronic platforms for point-of-care diagnostics and wearable applications. We will build upon our initial work on designing semiconducting polymers for bioelectronic applications (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138, 10252-10259) and the fabrication of multiplexed sensing devices (Nano Letters 2018, 18, 4130-4135). As a proof of concept, we will demonstrate real-time monitoring of multiple biomarkers on the same chip. 

The project will involve synthesis and characterisation of semiconducting polymers, assembly from solution to surfaces, nanopatterning and device fabrication and characterisation. Previous experience in one or more of these areas is desired. 

The Nielsen Lab has state-of-the-art equipment for materials synthesis as well as state-of-the-art equipment for solution and thin film electrochemistry, UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy (solution, thin film, temperature dependence) and spectroelectrochemistry. The Palma group has state-of-the-art atomic force microscope and access to cleanroom facilities as well as probe station for electrical measurements. The student will be affiliated with the Materials Research Institute (MRI), with access to additional characterisation and device equipment. Both supervisors have research groups with senior PhD students and PDRAs that can offer day-to-day supervision and support. 


The studentship is funded by EPRSC and will cover tuition fees and an annual tax-free maintenance allowance at the Research Council rate (£17,009 in 2019/20) for 3.5 years. UK students, and EU students who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years are normally eligible for full EPSRC funding. Please see the Research Council Training Grant Guide for full details of residential eligibility criteria.

Eligibility and applying

Applications are invited from candidates with, or expecting to be awarded, a degree in an area relevant to the project (e.g. chemistry, materials science, physics or engineering). Applicants from outside the UK are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English language skills. Please see our entry requirements page for further details.

Informal enquiries about the project can be made by email to To apply, please complete the online application form. Applicants are not required to submit a research proposal with their application, but should include a CV, personal statement, transcripts, and details of two references. 

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  • J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138, 10252-10259 
  • Nano Letters 2018, 18, 4130-4135