Pollard Institute: Terahertz imaging systems for medical robotic surgery

University of Leeds


There is a pressing need to improve the precision, control and selectivity of surgical procedures addressing several high incidence cancers. Terahertz (THz) frequency radiation has proven capability to be able to discriminate cancerous tissue from healthy tissue. If the extent of tumours could be accurately determined using THz imaging prior to surgery, the procedure would be faster, and grafts better planned. Similarly, if a diagnostic THz imaging capability could be added to a flexible endoscope, more colorectal tumours could be identified in situ and resected without waiting for histology results (typically two weeks) and a follow-up procedure.

Our School (working together with groups at the Universities of Warwick and Exeter) was recently awarded a large funded project called ‘Terabotics’, focussing on the development of new terahertz frequency sensing and imaging systems to enable applications in surgical robotics including colonoscopy. Our aim is to develop and demonstrate new terahertz imaging modalities compatible with existing robotic control and endoscopy platforms. We now seek a PhD student to join this activity. You will study in the world-leading terahertz and robotics groups at the University of Leeds, with state-of-the-art experimental facilities. During your PhD, you will collaborate with other members of our consortium at the Universities of Warwick and Exeter, with the possibility of an industrial placement with our project partners.

You will develop an on-chip terahertz spectroscopy imaging technique based on scanned resonant (“meta atom”) terahertz circuits for use in an existing robotically controlled endoscope. You will make use of and further develop our proprietary terahertz photoconductive on-chip sensors in a cleanroom environment in the University’s new Bragg Centre for Materials Research, and then use a new asynchronous optical laser (ASOPS) system for their measurement in our world class terahertz laboratories. Tests of imaging resolution will be conducted on 3D printed dielectric tissue phantoms. While this is predominantly an experimental (laboratory) based PhD, you will also learn to design, simulate and optimise the sensors using commercial high frequency modelling software.

This project would suit an applicant with a good first degree in Physics, Electronic Engineering, or an aligned subject. Prior knowledge of high frequency electronics and/or measurement systems would be advantageous, although full training will be provided.  

Please ensure that you quote this research project title in full on your application: Pollard Institute: Terahertz imaging systems for medical robotic surgery

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