Projects 2017/2018 Entry


Research projects are offered in the science and technology of sensing and measurement, across the traditional disciplines of Physics, Engineering, Chemistry and life sciences and across all domains of sensing and measurement: including electrical, optical and electromagnetic, radiation, gravity and acceleration, chemical and biochemical; for both imaging and single pixel-measurements.

Please see below for a list of the projects available at The University of Edinburgh and The University of Glasgow:

*  Indicates company sponsorship. All projects include the possibility of a summer internship with a company.


University of Edinburgh Projects


E_JOJ_1 : * Magnetic sensing of molecular materials with tuneable liquid crystal lasers

First Supervisor: Dr. J. Olof Johansson (School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Philip J.W. Hands 
(School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh)

Magnetic materials have completely changed how we have accessed and made use of information during the last century. A continued development of new magnetic materials and new ways of controlling them is urgently needed so that we can make the most of large data sets, which will improve many aspects of our lives such as health care, government, logistics and will reduce global energy consumption. We will explore ways to use new types of laser sources in order to study and manipulate the magnetisation of thin films of novel molecular materials. By producing layers of differently coloured films, we will be able to use the unique colour of each layer as a fingerprint to record the magnetisation in each layer. This is an exciting approach to develop the fundamental understanding of how magnetic materials interact with light.  






E_PJWH_3 : * Wireless, wearable pressure sensors for sports equipment and medical compression clothing
First Supervisor: Dr Philip J. W. Hands, School of Engineering
Second Supervisors: Prof. Marc P.Y. Desmulliez  (Heriot Watt)

Gradient compression garments are widely used in medicine (for embolism prevention and burns recovery) and in sports clothing, but their efficacy has not been rigorously scrutinised. This lack of information is due partly to the absence of a suitable pressure sensing system, capable of reliably mapping the low pressures exerted by such clothing, whilst being practical enough (i.e. low-cost, flexible, small, with minimal wiring) to be used in clinical or sporting environment.

In this collaborative project between Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities, and in partnership with sports equipment manufacturers, the student will develop wearable and wireless pressure sensors, consisting of flexible micro-fabricated passive resonant electrical components. The project will also include the development of a hand-held wireless reader system for remote multiplexed data acquisition of many distributed sensors.  Collaborative opportunities also exist with textiles experts to integrate sensors into clothing and equipment.

This applications-focussed interdisciplinary project is at the interface of physics, chemistry, materials and electronics/electrical engineering.  The student will work in a variety of environments, including microfabrication cleanrooms and electronics labs, and will collaborate closely with both industrial and academic colleagues.


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E_TA_1: * A Wearable Low Power Radio Frequency Head Imaging Device for Medical Diagnostics and Monitoring

First Supervisor: Prof. Tughrul Arslan (School of Engineering University of Edinburgh)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Jiabin Jia/ Dr. Adam Stokes (School of Engineering University of Edinburgh)

In this research, the development of a wearable device with a new Radio Frequency based sensor will be investigated for future biomedical imaging applications. The proposed wearable device aims to provide constant monitoring of people’s health condition via wireless connection. This device could be worn by patients with stroke and other health condition history as well as people involved in high risk sports. By identifying those diseases/conditions earlier, proper treatments could be provided. Several material and fabrication technologies will be explored such as 3-D printing and conductive inkjet printing technologies in addition to commonly used photolithography technique. The sensor design would have to meet several requirements such as ultra-wideband characteristic, flexibility and low power and area so that it could be integrated into the proposed wearable device. Effective characterisation techniques will be investigated based on reflection coefficient and transmission coefficient measurements.

E_AM_2:*Using hydrogels to produce microelectrode sensors

The project will focus on a fundamental understanding and systematic development of hydrogels on electrodes, with the goal of forming enhanced biosensors. The project will encompass synthesis of gelling materials, the formation of gels on microfabricated electrochemical arrays, characterisation by electrochemical, optical imaging and rheological methods, and the formation of enhanced biosensor systems. The student will work both in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and acquire multidisciplinary skills and training including electrochemistry, hydrogel formation and characterisation, rheological and imaging methods microfabrication and biosensor production and characterisation.

First supervisor: Prof Andy Mount, School of Chemistry
Second supervisors: Prof Dave Adams
E_RC_1 :*Micro-sensors for adaptive acoustic transduction
First Supervisor: Professor Rebecca Cheung, School of Engineering
Second Supervisor:Dr. Enrico Mastropaolo, School of Engineering,  Dr Michael Newton, School of Music

The research project involves the development and implementation of an adaptable microelectromechanical (MEM) acoustic transducer inspired by the behaviour of the human ear.  The detection of the acoustic signal and its conversion into the electrical domain can be performed with resonant gate transistors (RGTs). The active cochlear mechanism of the human ear could be replicated by integrating an array of RGTs with a feedback control system to operate as a selective real-time adaptive multichannel microphone. The potential outcome of this project will have tremendous impact on the fundamental understanding of sound interpretation as well as improvements in hearing aid technology.


University of Glasgow Projects

G_HW_1 : * CASE Studentship in Interferometry techniques for the ESA L3 mission that will probe the Gravitational Universe
First Supervisor: Dr Harry Ward, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow
Second Supervisor:   Dr Ewan Fitzsimons, UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh

This research studentship, aiming to develop technology for space-based detection of gravitational waves, is for collaborative research between UK-ATC (National centre for astronomical technology), the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Sensing and Measurement.

LISA – the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna – will be the European Space Agency’s third Large-class mission in its Cosmic Vision program and will become the world’s first ever space-based gravitational wave observatory. High sensitivity displacement measurement by optical laser interferometry lies at the very heart of the LISA mission, performed with a resolution of ~10 picometres over multi-gigametre baselines between separate spacecraft. These requirements are challenging, but through a mixture of ground and space-based tests the field is already far advanced in demonstrating their feasibility. In particular, the University of Glasgow (UGL) optical bench (OB) operating in the precursor technology demonstrator mission, LISA Pathfinder, has shown outstanding displacement metrology performance, that is well below that required for the intra-spacecraft measurements in LISA.

The UK Space Agency recently completed a competitive evaluation of proposed nationally funded contributions to L3. This resulted in agreement in principle to fund the optical bench subsystems, capitalising on the Glasgow success in the LISA Pathfinder mission. However the optical bench subsystem for L3 is a major undertaking, with significant increase in technical complexity compared with the OB developed for LISA Pathfinder, but a major increase also in number of payload items to be built. In light of the need for significant up-scaling of capacity, UGL and the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK-ATC) in Edinburgh have agreed to form a teaming arrangement, with in the short to medium term, scientific oversight and underpinning technology developments remaining primarily the province of UGL, with OB design and simulation, and ultimately building, testing and delivery of flight hardware being the prime responsibility of UK-ATC.

The research project will focus on developing various techniques which are essential for the development of the overall LISA optical system. Key topics include: development of analysis methods to determine the impact of stray light on the science measurement; investigations into the design and development of ultra-stable laser beam fibre couplers, and other optical systems, suitable for LISA; and development of alignment and displacement sensors and techniques which are capable of achieving the ultra-high precision required for the build and operation of the LISA optical metrology system.
The project is available for an early start.


G_KG_1*: Development of a Directional Mixed-field Sensor

First supervisor: Dr Kelum Gamage, School of Engineering, University of Glasgow

Second supervisor: Dr Graeme Taylor, National Physics Laboratory

Mixed field radiation monitoring is required in many sectors, including Energy, Defence, Security and Healthcare. Existing area survey meters typically over read in some energy regions and by design, they take no account of the direction of incidence, which may affect the risk to the exposed individual. The aim of this project is to design and develop a novel mixed field radiation dosemeter that takes account of both energy and direction to provide directly an estimate of effective dose. The successful student will use computer simulation to design the survey meter and then create a prototype for testing at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

G_AH_2:*Computational imaging of the retina

First Supervisor: Professor Andrew Harvey, School of Physics and Astronomy
Second Supervisor: Dr G Carles University of Glasgow

This project will develop and apply new techniques for retinal imaging using emerging techniques in computational imaging to design a retinal camera able to beat some fundamental limits that apply to classical designs, aiming at achieving unprecedented combinations of resolution, field-of-view and image quality. The proposed innovations will challenge more than a century of momentum of the principles of retinal imaging, recoding images of up to 25Mpx with a field-of-view of up to 200 degrees in the human eye, covering a retinal area ten times higher than common fundus cameras can achieve, and currently only possible with bulky and expensive laser scanning devices.




G_GH_2_:* Field testing a MEMS gravimeter

First Supervisor: Prof. Giles Hammond, School of Physics and Astronomy
Second Supervisor: Prof Douglas J Paul, School of Engineering

Over the last 3.5 years researchers at the University of Glasgow (School of Physics & Astronomy and School of Electrical & Nanoscale Engineering) have been developing a MEMS gravimeter. The device has already shown sufficient sensitivity and stability to make a first measurement of the earth tides; changes in the local acceleration of gravity caused by the elastic deformation of the earth, originating from the tidal potential of the moon and sun.

This project will perform field trials of the MEMS gravimeter and comparison tests with commercial instruments. Particular areas of research will focus on thermal control of the miniaturised package via a Peltier heater/cooler and robustness testing (field trials/shake tests) to determine the cumulative failure statistics of the device and techniques to improve robustness (e.g. development of limit stops and locking mechanisms).



G_PS_1_:*Advanced In-hand 3D Sensing for Dexterous Robotic Manipulation

 First Supervisor: Dr Paul Siebert University of Glasgow
Second Supervisor: Professor Andy Harvey/Gerardo Aragon-Camarasa (CS)

The Shadow Robot Company and the School of Computing Science within the University of Glasgow are collaborating through an Innovate UK project to develop advanced 3D sensing methods to support dexterous robotic manipulation using Shadow’s advanced robot hand. This collaboration will develop a testbed to allow various types of 3D sensor to be validated using a sensing-processing pipeline that implements a robotic hand-eye manipulation task. A PhD project to extend this collaboration by investigating more advanced optics-based 3D sensing methods combined with state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms and Deep Learning techniques is proposed. The aim of this project is to develop a compact, robust and low-power 3D sensor suitable for being integrated within the robot hand itself in order to guide its operation when performing grasps or exploring a scene to search for objects.

G_PS_2 :* An Optics-based Retina Sensor for Robotics and Egocentric Imaging Applications

First Supervisor: Dr Paul Siebert University of Glasgow
Second Supervisor: Professor Andy Harvey/John Williamson (CS)

Low cost, self-contained, visual sensing is a fundamental requirement for robotics and wearable vision applications. This PhD project is attempting to implement a model of human retinal processing by exploiting zero-power optical processing followed by with digital image transformations which feed Deep Learning neural networks capable of recognising objects or computing image flow or depth information used for guiding/controlling robotic manipulation systems. The benefit of this approach is that it’s ~x100 potential efficiency would allow a compact, integrated advanced robot vision sensor to be implemented on a low-cost smartphone platform or low-power embedded image processing computer.  The project is supported by an internship with the ARM Ltd.



G_JC_1 : * Low cost multiplexed DNA Diagnostic Sensors for Infectious Diseases.

First Supervisor: Prof J Cooper ( School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Julien Reboud (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

Nearly 260m people are infected with schistosomiasis, with >90% of infections found in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide ~3.2b people are at risk of malaria, many also in Sub-Saharan Africa. Both diseases are endemic in the same rural locations and there is difficulty in differentiating symptoms and informing correct diagnosis and treatment. Incorrect diagnosis is known to lead to unnecessary dispensation of drugs leading to increased probability of drug resistance. The rapid, low cost, field based genus specific diagnosis of both diseases within local rural communities, is key to ensure that appropriate administration of the correct drug(s) is carried out and continues until treatment is complete.




G_JC_2 : * New Medical Diagnostic Devices using Mobile Phones

First Supervisor: Prof J Cooper ( School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Julien Reboud/ Dr. Manlio Tassieri (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

Point-of-care medical testing enables patients to obtain diagnostic results that inform clinical treatment, without visiting a specialist healthcare. Within the developed world this includes “bathroom testing” (eg pregnacy or sexual health) or home management of diseases (eg diabetes). In low and medium income countries (LMIC), the paradigm enables infectious disease testing “in-the-field” in rural areas where there is no specialized access to healthcare professionals. In either case the outcome is the same, namely new technology enabling timely and informed treatment and delivering healthcare benefits without direct access to clinical facilities.

Since their invention in 1973, mobile phones have become ubiquitous with >4.6b unique users (78% of subscriptions are in LMICs). Modern smartphones have ~14 built-in sensors including proximity, pressure, gyroscope as well as heart rate (used for the delivery of healthcare through m-health).   They now also offer an attractive platform for point-of-care medical diagnostics – providing a rechargeable battery, a high resolution camera for imaging, a CPU for processing data and a means of transmitting results (to enable “decision-support” from experts or expert systems).


G_HH_1 : * CMOS-Based Magnetic Resonance Biomedical Sensors

First Supervisor: Dr. Hadi Heidari  ( School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. David Cumming (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

In recent years, growing interest in preventing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) using the dietary fatty acid intake has been paid a lot of attention. In western industrialized countries, the current indications for lipid intake have raised the question of the nature of fatty acid effects on human health. This project will initiate a new multidisciplinary investigation into cardiovascular system and quantitative etermination and analysis of fatty acid chain composition and magnetic resonance spectroscopy using electronic design of CMOS chips.


Image second from top (fibroblasts) © iStock