University of Exeter funding: Novel Nanoparticles for Raman Nanot

Novel Nanoparticles for Raman Nanotheranostic applications, Physics – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3924

About the award


Academic Supervisors:

Professor Nick Stone, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter

Professor Francesca Palombo, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter

Professor Pavel Matousek, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Rutherford Appleton Labs


The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,285 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in Physics in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Location: Department of Physics, Streatham Campus,  Exeter

Project Description

We seek a talented chemical/physical scientist/engineer (PhD student) to join our multidisciplinary team in Biospectroscopy/Biophysics in Exeter. You will study for a PhD in the development of a future medical technology called Raman Nanotheranostics. We are leaders in this field and the successful candidate would be part of developing a completely new clinical platform technology that combines optical multiplexed disease detection with specific therapeutic selection and monitoring. The successful applicant would participate in a substantial multi-disciplinary EPSRC programme: Raman NanoTheranostics (RaNT), joining a team of leading scientists from the University of Exeter, University of Cambridge, London School of Pharmacy (UCL) and the STFC Central Laser Facility working to develop engineering and physical science solutions to solve clinical needs in patient specific diagnosis and effective treatment of cancers.

The team are developing innovative nanoparticle (NP) constructs, uniquely safe to the body, coupled with novel readout technologies, capable of detecting signals from depths of >8 cm non-invasively, mediating targeted therapies with light and non-invasively monitoring the efficacy of these and other therapies. This will address a critical clinical need of the provision of accurate and early disease diagnosis accompanied by effective, patient and disease specific therapy.

Your project would focus on developing novel biocompatible nanoparticle constructs able to target tumour cells, scatter light to provide a location beacon and to absorb energy to heat up and destroy abnormal cells, thus providing the desired level of hyperthermia to the tumour.

The PhD project will be based at the University of Exeter, with experimental work being undertaken within Physics and the Living Systems Institute on the Streatham Campus. Supervision will be provided by Prof Nick Stone, Prof of Biomedical Imaging and Biosensing, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter and Consultant Clinical Scientist, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust; Prof Pavel Matousek, Senior Research Fellow, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory; Prof Francesca Palombo, Associate Professor of Biospectroscopy, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter.


1) Develop novel gold nanoparticle metamaterials/constructs able to provide unique optical characteristics. Each Nanoconstruct must be biocompatible, provide a significant surface enhanced Raman signal and heat up when illuminated with near infrared light.
2) A number of strategies will be designed, manufactured and tested.
3) Develop methods for intracellular measurement of pH and temperature at the nanoscale.
4) Work with colleagues to utilise NPs to provide signals when illuminated in cell cultures, ex vivo tissue specimens, in vivo models.
5) Explore the use of coherent Raman imaging for intracellular localisation of NPs (within our CONTRAST user facility).

The PhD student will benefit from working in a multidisciplinary environment within Biomedical Physics and the LSI. This research would suit a candidate with a Physics, Natural Sciences, Chemistry, or Bioengineering degree, ideally with previous experience using analytical tools such as microscopy and spectroscopy techniques.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,285 per year tax-free stipend. 

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2020.


Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in Physics or related subjects. Experience in optics, spectroscopy, microscopy and biomedical applications is desirable.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0n IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several 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)
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on the 3rd August 2020.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus (or online) on the 17th or 18th August 2020.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone: 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) or +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers).  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor


Application deadline:3rd August 2020
Value:£15,285 per annum
Duration of award:per year
Contact: STEMM PGR Admissions