PhD Position in Microwave Sensing in Microfluidics for Cell and Extracellular Vesicles Characterization
Catholic University of Leuven Department of Electrical Engineering

The research group TELEMIC of the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) of KU Leuven focuses on Telecommunications and Microwaves. It covers research on wireless networking, active circuits and sensors, antennas and metamaterials. Currently, the microwaves for life sciences team is focusing strongly on development and integration of microwave-microfluidic sensors, heaters and supporting active microwave circuitry within chosen biological applications. In this PhD project, the aim is to combine expertise from TELEMIC on development of calibration techniques, microwave-microfluidic sensors and supporting microwave circuitry improved by engineered waveforms or optimal operation.


Microwave concepts are increasingly being used in microfluidic devices to advance detection, monitoring and actuation of liquid mixtures in lab-on-a-chip applications thanks to the work that demonstrated capabilities of microwave sensing and heating. This exploratory work has demystified microwave techniques to the life science community, convinced the optical-based community into advantages of microwaves, and identified limitations of microwave sensing and heating.

 A promising way to fight cancer in the early stages, among other diseases, is through information carried by single cells and extracellular vesicles (EVs). However, extracting this information often depends on the availability of biomarkers and their matching bioreceptors. To circumvent this necessity, we will explore in this interdisciplinary project microwave dielectric sensing combined with novel microfluidic solutions as a platform capable of differentiating single cells and EVs in a label-free manner.

Thus,we will develop a unique microwave-microfluidic technology capable of single-cell seeding and retrieval, EV manipulation, micro- to pico-liter sample handling and label-free single cell and EV characterization through multi-frequency microwave sensing and actuation. By using microwaves, the novel enabling technology could alleviate biomarker discovery, drug screening at the single-cell level, EVs or single-cell analysis and as such have a significant impact on many fields, including cancer.

 For this vacancy, the selected candidate will work in a team and will first focus on development of calibration techniques for on-wafer measurements for dielectric spectroscopy of single cells. The obtained dielectric spectroscopy data will be investigated and later used to conceive an optimal signal waveform for single healthy and cancerous cell sensing. Moreover, the candidate will build the required microwave system to generate required waveforms for sensing in biological laboratories. The scientifically engineered system will be further expanded to enable integration of heaters and interferometers. All these activities include a thorough review of the state of the arts, the inventionof new structures and algorithms, the design of new microwave hardware, the implementation of a proof-of-concept system, thorough experimental evaluations of the system in several chosen experiments, and feasibility demonstration of the system in top venues.


The applicant should have a Master Degree in Electronic/Electrical Engineering and should meet the minimum eligibility criteria for a PhD at KU Leuven, namely having exceptional grades as well as proficiency in English. The applicant should ideally have experience with microwave design software (such as ADS Schematic and Momentum, CST, or HFSS) or COMSOL software.


We offer a PhD scholarship up to four years (subject to positive intermediate evaluations).


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Dominique Schreurs, tel.: +32 16 32 18 21, mail: or Dr. Tomislav Markovic,

You can apply for this job no later than September 04, 2020 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
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: September 4, 2020
  • Tags: Elektrotechniek

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