2D Materials and Devices for Skin-conformable, Wearable Healthcare Technologies - Engineering - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2941

About the award

This project is one of a number funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership to commence in September 2018. This project is in direct competition with others for funding; the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018. It will provide research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Please note that of the total number of projects within the competition, up to 15 studentships will be filled.

Prof Monica Craciun
Prof Saverio Russo 

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project Description
The aim of this PhD studentship is to develop a new multifunctional technology for wearable, skin conformal sensors to continuously monitor vital signs. The proposed technology will combine emerging atomically-thin (2D) materials and elastomeric substrates, that are conformal and lightweight by nature, offering the ideal interface with the human skin. The multifunctional feature of the technology will involve measurement of blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature. This aim will be realized by building few atom thick devices (e.g. transistors, light-emitting diodes, photo detectors) with unparalleled combination of mechanical and sensory properties, achieved by harvesting the outstanding properties of 2D materials. 

2D materials are the thinnest materials which can be conceived. Graphene- one atom thick layer of carbon- is the strongest known material, the best electrical and thermal conductor which is also mechanically flexible and transparent. Recent advances in graphene engineering have shown that the properties of this material can be enhanced to unprecedented levels by chemical functionalization. In this project the student will exploit unprecedented enhanced properties of functionalized graphene as a transparent conductive electrode for wearable monitoring devices. Other emerging 2D materials, such as transition metal dichalcogenites (TMDs, e.g. MoS2, WSe2) and boron nitride (BN) have complementary semiconducting and insulating properties necessary for electronic and optoelectronic applications. The remarkable conductive properties of graphene and its functionalized forms will be combined with the excellent semiconducting properties of TMDs and insulating properties of BN in a novel concept that affords significant weight and thickness reductions, long-term stability, while merging exceptional mechanical flexibility, optical transparency, electronic properties and device fabrication compatibility with human skin.

Current technologies for health-monitoring systems are not appropriate for developing wearable sensors for soft interfaces such as the skin. Skin has unique mechanical properties that do not exist in conventional electronics, typically made of silicon and inorganic semiconductors, which are rigid. In contrast to existing technologies, using inherently thin electronic 2D materials that have the mechanical flexibility to directly contact the skin will allow the development of multifunctional wearable devices for monitoring vital signs for improving the health.

In this project the student will develop sensors for the four main vital signs that are routinely monitored by medical professionals: body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure. The experimental plan for the proposed work will involve the development of various devices, according to the vital sign being measured. The sensors will be developed using 2D materials and lithography-based nano-fabrication techniques. 

Entry Requirements
Applicants should have a background in Applied Physics, Materials Science, Engineering or a related subject and have or expect to gain a First Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent from an overseas University. Computer programming skills in LabVIEW and experience of working in a clean-room nano-fabrication environment are appreciated. However, candidates with no such experience should not feel discouraged from applying as training will be provided.

The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees-only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  For information on EPSRC residency criteria click here.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are NOT eligible for funding. International students interested in studying at the University of Exeter should search our funding database for alternative options.


Application deadline:10th January 2018
Value:3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,553 per year.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral Collegepgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk

How to apply

You will be required to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
        undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim
        transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current
        proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter in late February 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email: pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk.
Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.

During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.