Supervisors: Professor Nobert Klein and Professor Deeph Chana.
Start Date: 1st October 2020
Location: South Kensington and White City Campus
Funding for: 3 years (tuition fees and bursary) available to only UK students

Closing Date: 16 July 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 large number of individuals are paramount. This PhD project will be part of a team in Imperial’s Department of Materials working on chip-based virus particle sensors, which can be fabricated in large quantities by wafer-scale transfer of CVD-graphene on silicon wafers and wafer-scale device fabrication by standard photolithography processes. Direct sensing of virus particles is realized through nanoparticleenhanced graphene surfaces functionalized with specific SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and quantitative electrical detection based on the electric field effect in graphene. Our approach has been successfully demonstrated for the detection of exosomes, and we can extrapolate from our results that sensitivities below 1 x 104 particle/mL can be achieved [1,2]. Graphene virus detectors have a high potential to overcome the drawbacks of real time PCR (slow laboratory tests, high false negatives) and of antigen/antibody lateral flow immunoassays (delay between infection and antibody expression, high dependence on individuals) by fast and direct virus detection through a compact battery-powered test kit for the purely electrical read-out of disposable chips (one chip per swab sample) with expected incubation time of a few minutes. Beyond medical point of care applications, these devices have the potential to be used in airport checkpoints and extended to other than COVID 19 viruses.

[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