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Queen Mary University of LondonQueen Mary University of London
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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

In-situ optical and electrochemical imaging system for 3D in vitro models and in-vivo applications

Supervisors: Steffi KRAUSE

Application Deadline: 31-01-2019

Project Details
This multidisciplinary project is aimed at coupling a scanning light electrochemical imaging system with fibre optic technology to enable in-situ measurements of cell surface charges and ion concentrations in 3D organ-on-a-chip models. The project will combine existing expertise in light-addressable potentiometric sensors (LAPS) in Steffi Krause’s group and in raster scanning with a single multimode fibre (MMF) in Lei Su’s group.


1. LAPS use photocurrent measurements at electrolyte-semiconductor structures for high-resolution imaging of ion concentrations and the charges of living cells. To enable LAPS imaging at the end of a fibre, you will develop a process for depositing a suitable metal oxide semiconductor film onto an MMF. The films will be optimised to obtain high photocurrents, good stability and good pH sensitivity.

2. In collaboration with Karin Hing, you will use the fibre-optic LAPS system to monitor human Mesenchymal Stem Cells function and interaction inside bone graft substitute granule masses in real time. In vivo-data show that these parameters have a significant impact on bone regeneration, however, to date, only the end point cell response can be measured as the granules are opaque. Local measurement of pH and cell surface charges with fibre optic LAPS in the granule mass will greatly facilitate our ability to interrogate the processes behind cell-bone graft substitute interactions and their responsivity to fluid shear.

3. Using a digital micro-mirror device, Lei Su’s group have recently demonstrated light-focusing and raster scanning at the distal end of a multimode fibre. You will couple single MMF optical imaging with high-resolution LAPS imaging and modify the semiconducting oxide film for the detection of other ionic species such as calcium, which would be a game changer in in-situ monitoring of intra and extra-cellular reorganisation within live and model tissue in response to therapeutic and biomechanical challenges.

As the project is highly multidisciplinary, you will gain experience in a multitude of areas such as device fabrication, surface modification, electrochemical characterisation methods such as LAPS and impedance spectroscopy, fibre-optic imaging, materials characterisation techniques such as XRD, AFM, SEM and XPS and cell culture.

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU & International Applicants.
  • Full Time programme only.
  • Applicant required to start in September/October 2019.
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Set as £16,777 for 2018/19).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language then you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6 in Writing 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • International applicants should refer to the following website at

Supervisor Contact Details
For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Steffi Krause
Tel: 020 7882 3747

Application Method
To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the PhD Materials Science programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Materials:

Further Guidance: 

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2019 SEMS QMRS SK’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.