PhD Position in Engineering Metal-Metal Oxides Electrodes for Fully Biodegradable Implants
Catholic University of Leuven Department of Electrical Engineering
Belgium

The researcher will be part of the newly founded Research Division Micro- and Nano-systems (MNS) in the electrical engineering department (ESAT) of KU Leuven and also the Functional Nanosystems Research Group (FuN) in the department of Physics & Astronomy. MNS comprises about 20 researchers (postdocs, PhD students and technicians) from ten different countries and is led by Prof. Michael Kraft and Prof. Irene Taurino, who is jointly appointed with the department of Physics & Astronomy. Both research divisions offer a dynamic, thriving and interdisciplinary environment and work on a wide portfolio of research projects, including bio-medical and bio-chemical sensors, new materials for micro- and nanosystems, high-precision physical microsensors, resonant based sensors, neuro-probes, energy harvesting, micromachined ultrasound transducers and interface circuits for micro-devices. The MNS core laboratory is the 450 m^2 cleanroom in the KU Leuven Nanocentre (see https://www.esat.kuleuven.be/mns/labs) which hosts more than 30 state-of-the-art tools for micro- and nanofabrication and an active user base of more than 90 researchers. The FuN lab (https://fys.kuleuven.be/hf/fun/equipmentnieuw) offers multiple deposition systems and spaces for liquid syntheses to fabricate functional materials. Dedicated labs for chemical/thermal material treatments are also present.

Project

Bioresorbable devices are highly desired in various medical applications to avoid complications typical of permanent implantation and to reduce costs and risks related to frequent replacements. Different sensors of this type have been developed to track body temperature, blood pressure and electrical activity of the brain. For such development, the device functionality is ensured by active sites completely encapsulated in a material, a configuration that makes the disintegration predictable. In electrochemical implants, the functional electrodes must be exposed to biofluids so that the detection mechanism could happen. Thus, ensuring a reliable response and uniform degradation of the different parts of the platform are certain challenges. Endeavours to develop fully bioresorbable electrochemical sensors have been so far unsuccessful. Only partially-bioresorbable platforms have been efficiently developed. The non-degradable component is always on the sensing site to guarantee a reliable response to redox analytes of interest. 
 
This PhD project aims to develop electrodes with reliable electrochemical response for a certain functional lifetime and full biodegradability. To this aim, the student will develop novel bioresorbable electrodes based on slowly degrading nanostructured metal oxides. Molybdenum, tungsten, and zinc oxides (alone or in combination) will be evaluated. Fabrication methods (e.g., sputtering, electrodeposition, electrochemical anodization, chemical vapor deposition, sol-gel) will be critically selected to be compatible with a standard process flow of transient devices. The assessment will be based on electrochemical and biodissolution measurements. Structural and microscopic characterization will be carried out during the functional lifetime and degradation period. Electrodes with an operational period from a few hours to several weeks will be developed. The student will use the advanced facilities of both the Micro- and Nanosystems (ESAT) and the Functional Nanosystems (DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY) laboratories. The electrochemical performance of the novel engineered electrodes will be optimized towards electroactive molecules of medical interest (e.g., hydrogen peroxide, oxygen, dopamine, uric and ascorbic acids). 
This research establishes the foundations of bioresorbable implantable monitors and will pave the way for a multitude of medical applications. 

Profile

- Master's degree in engineering (technology), physics, material science or a equivalent subject.

- Proficiency in English
- Analytical mind, result oriented
- Passionate about research
- Ability to tackle research questions independently
- It is expected that the successful candidate enrols in a PhD program

Offer

- four year full scholarship

- access to state-of-the-art laboratories and cleanroom

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Irene Taurino, mail.: irene.taurino@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Michael Kraft, tel.: +32 16 37 37 56, mail: michael.kraft@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than June 30, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 30, 2021
  • Tags: Elektrotechniek


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