A PhD scholarship is available for a student to investigate interfacing organic electronics with living tissue.
The fields of neurobiology and electronic devices have developed rapidly in the last century, which has presented the tantalising prospect of directly interfacing electronic devices with living tissue. In this way, devices could directly supply information to the neural network of a living entity and neurons could directly trigger electronic devices thus controlling them by mere thought. A deep understanding of how neurons interact with electronic materials, in particular semiconductors, benefits a wide range of futuristic and current medical applications. Examples of applications are controlling electrical appliances by neuronal read-out, deep-brain stimulation to treat Parkinson disease, cochlear implants and retinal prosthetic devices to cure blindness or vision loss.
Our research project focusses on interfacing organic electronic devices with living tissue. Organic semiconductors have been identified as a suitable class of materials that meet both the biological requirements (e.g. elasticity, ionic conduction) and electronic requirements (e.g. solid-state charge conduction), which make them an ideal material for bioelectronic applications. Research involves growing appropriate cells on organic semiconductors, eliciting and measuring action-potentials and other interactions between organic semiconductors and neurons. These results direct the development of devices such as sensors/probes, artificial retinas and other bioelectronic applications.
The project aims to improve our fundamental knowledge of neuronal stimulation using organic semiconductors and develop bio-electronic devices. A fully funded PhD position has become available at the University of Newcastle to contribute to the above biophysics research.The supervisory team consists of sensory neurobiologists, physicists and experts in organic electronics. The successful candidate will work at the Priority Research Centre for Organic Electronics, which comprises chemists, physicists and engineers, and will also work within a neurobiology group. The Centre for Organic Electronics was established in 2007 at the University of Newcastle and is one of Australia’s leading research groups in organic electronics. The interdisciplinary nature of the project provides an exciting environment with opportunities to learn a wide range of fabrication and characterisation techniques from a wide range of scientists and engineers. To thrive in such an environment, good collaboration/communication skills are desired. The student will work under the supervision of Dr Krishna Feron, Dr Rebecca Lim, Prof Alan Brichta and Prof Paul Dastoor.
Scholarship value: $26,282 p.a., indexed in January each year. The scholarship is for a period of 3 and a half years.
Minimum eligibility criteria: GPA of at least 5.25 out of 7; English proficiency; Honours Class One or equivalent.