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PhD Studentship (3 years) BIOPOLY – Single BIOmolecule detection via an ELISA sandwich assay through the realisation of novel optical POLYmer biosensors for a low cost rapid field deployable diagnostic instrument.

College of Engineering & Physical Sciences - Studentships

Location:  Aston University Main Campus
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Thursday 20 May 2021
Reference:  R210141
Release Date:  Thursday 29 April 2021

Supervisor: Dr Daniel Hill 

Project Reference: EPSRCDTP_ Studentship

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and EPSRC DTP, to be undertaken within Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies at Aston University.  

The position is available to start in October 2021

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the Home fees rate, plus a maintenance allowance of £15,609 in 2021/2 (subject to eligibility). This application is only available to Home students.

Background to the Project

It is proposed to use a novel detection scheme that will actually capitalize on the high thermal sensitivity of polymers, which for many applications is problematic, to eliminate for the first time all of their inherent low-frequency (DC) related noise and drift issues in a polymer waveguide based biosensor. So much so that it will result in three beyond state of the art achievements: 

(1) Polymer photonic biosensing - in limit of detection (LoD) and selectivity. 

(2) Photonic biosensing – in rapid, sensitive and selective detection from small sample volumes at low cost. 

(3) Point of Care (PoC) Immunodetection – its six unique selling points (USP) will be equal or better than the state of art in PoC immunodetection, where detection of small number of pathogens (bacteria and viruses) normally requires slow incubation processes, providing an alternative to the Gold Standards of immunochemistry or PCR (Polymerase chain reaction).

The project has three principle objectives.

Primary objective (1): Develop the first ever polymer waveguide based biosensor with a low LoD, for few, and potentially single small particle (e.g. peptides, proteins, antibodies, oligonucleotides, aptamers and hormones) detection, using a highly promising and novel concept. 

Secondary objective (2): Demonstrate beyond state of art photonic biosensing for the Unique Selling Points of portability/field deployable-ness, cost, sensitivity, selectivity, time to result and multiplexing. These are enabled due to both the sensing mechanism itself and because it enables the use of polymer photonic structures and therefore a low cost visible light reader and low cost/large area Lab on Chip cartridges/chips with a very large effective sensing area and thus single particle detection via a sandwich assay.

Tertiary objective (2): Provide the student with the multidisciplinary technical and complementary skills (managerial, entrepreneurial, communications) she/he requires for a successful scientific career, in academia or industry.  

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and/or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Optical Engineering, Photonics, Physics, or equivalent.  Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of Practical experience in developing and utilising optical setups, General laboratory skills, data taking and analysis. Creative problem solving skills. Excellent English language communication skills to relay work in spoken and written media.    Ability to write reports and contribute to deliverables. 

Contact information

For formal enquiries about this project contact Dr Daniel Hill by email at

Submitting an application

Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here.  

The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and should also be accompanied by a brief review of relevant research literature.

Please include the supervisor name, project title, and project reference in your application.

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at 

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Further particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact HR via



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