Supervisors: Professor Nobert Klein and Professor Deeph Chana.
Start Date: tbc
Location: South Kensington and White City Campus
Funding: 3 years tuition fees and bursary are included UK students only

Closing Date: 15 December 2020

Project Description:

In order to mitigate the spread of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, fast, accurate, sensitive and easy-to-use methods for testing a large number of individuals are paramount. The experimental work for this PhD project will be performed as a member of an interdisciplinary research team within Imperial’s Department of Materials Professor Norbert Klein, whose current research activities are concentrated on chip-based biosensors, which potentially can be fabricated in large quantities by wafer-scaled transfer of CVD-graphene on silicon wafers and wafer-scaled device fabrication by standard photolithography processes. Direct sensing of virus particles is realized through nanoparticle-enhanced graphene surfaces functionalized with specific SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and quantitative electrical detection based on the electric field effect in graphene. Our approach, which has been originally developed for the detection of exosomes [1], has already been successfully tested for the detection of COVID-19 spike proteins. It is expected that this technology will outperform standard PCR methods for COVID-19 detection [2].

The student will receive extensive training in device microfabrication techniques including photolithography and thin film deposition, but also techniques for biofunctionalization, advanced electrical characterization, atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy. A good understanding of materials-related topics in Physics and Chemistry is important, but we also accept applicants with Electrical or Chemical/Bioengineering background. The project is aiming to bring this technology forward to real-world applications, which may include pilot studies in medical points-of-care or airport passenger checkpoints.

The project is fully funded, but based on the nature of funding restricted to home student applicants. Due to exceptional circumstances, we accept any starting date from now to January 2021. For further information, you may contact the supervisor Prof Norbert Klein.

[1] Kwong Hong Tsang, D et al., Scientific Reports 2019, 9, (1), 13946.
[2] Ramadan, S et al., “Carbon quantum dot (CQDs) enhanced graphene field effect transistors for ultrasensitive detection of exosomes”, to be published

Application: Please submit your CV and a cover letter, including full contact details of two referees, to Professor Norbert Klein, n.klein@imperial.ac.uk.

More information: More information on the Department of Materials can be found here: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/materials