Skip to content
Red graphic of studentships background.

Develop an advanced optical fibre sensor for real time monitoring of implants

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


Project ID: SST7

The performance of implanted devices, prosthesis and biomaterials are currently only monitored by technologies that offer snapshots of these implants over time in vivo. For example, an earliest CT scan is typically used three months after the surgery to monitor if a spinal fusion cage has fused with vertebral bone to form a strong bonding, hence rendering stability of the implant. However, these implants can fail before or during these snapshots of monitoring. The NHS cost associated with treating patients with failed implants is significant, which adds to the financial pressure faced by NHS. For example, revision in total hip replacement and total knee replacement can cost £70,000 per patient to treat. Therefore, a sensor that can offer continuous and real time measurement of clinically relevant parameters and markers that reflect the level of functionality of an implant and its surrounding environment will offer distinct advantages over current technologies. Markers and parameters provided by the novel sensor will offer information which are previously unavailable to clinicians for improved diagnosis and more accurate prognosis. Providing such real-time monitoring capability will offer opportunity for early intervention and avoid expensive revision surgeries at a later stage.

This project aims to develop an optical fibre-based sensor for measuring mechanical and chemical signals from an implant and its surroundings. The mechanical signals will be the strain and stress experienced by an implant during daily activities. These mechanical parameters are important for orthopaedic devices such as hip replacement or spinal fusion cages where instability or loosening of the implants can cause complications and device failure. Chemical signals including oxygen tension and the concentrations of reactive oxygen/nitrogen species can indicate the status of healing and inflammation which can be linked to implant associated infections, respectively. The project will investigate the seamless combination of the sensor with 3D printed biomaterial scaffolds for tissue regeneration.

This project will be running parallelly with a recently funded 4-year project in which a PDRA will develop optical fibre sensors for measuring maternal contractions to reduce stillbirth. It is envisaged that the student will benefit from working with the PDRA in the laboratory.

Supervisory Team:

Dr Qimei Zhang (NTU main supervisor) – Qimei is a senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering in the School of Science and Technology. Qimei received her PhD in Biomedical Optics from University of Nottingham (UoN) in 2016. During 2015-2018 Qimei was working as a research fellow in the UoN. After joining NTU in Sep 2018, Qimei has been leading various projects to develop novel optical fibre sensors for industrial and biomedical applications. Qimei is an early career researcher, and her research interests include novel applications of fibre Bragg grating sensors, maternal monitoring using optical sensors, and novel fabricating technologies for minimum invasive biosensors. Qimei recently received a prestigious Wellcome Leap award on maternal monitoring to reduce stillbirth in collaboration with researchers in UoN. Qimei has the experience of supervising 2 post-doctoral researchers.

Dr Cuifeng Ying (NTU co-supervisor) - Cuifeng is a senior lecturer at the Department of Engineering at the School of Science and Technology. Cuifeng has been working on designing and applying engineered nanoscale structures for biosensing applications. Specifically, her research focuses on using plasmonic/dielectric nanostructures and nanopore technology for DNA sensing and protein characterisation at a single-molecule level. Since 2010, she has published 32 peer-reviewed papers with a total citation of 1013 and a H-index of 14. She served as a Co-guest Editor for the journal nanomaterials (2020-2021) and is a regular reviewer for several journals of the American Chemical Society (ACS) such as ACS sensors, ACS applied nanomaterials. Cuifeng has co-supervised two PhD students since 2015 and both are graduated.

Dr Jing Yang (External co-supervisor, University of Nottingham) - Jing is an assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham. He has a strong track record in 3D printing for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Jing has been awarded three EPSRC grants with one as PI (EP/N510099/1, EP/M506849/1, EP/N006615/1). Jing has published 34 peer-reviewed full papers with a total citation of 1964 and a H-index of 19. As the principal supervisor, he has supervised 4 PhD students to graduation. Jing is an editorial board member of Journal of 3D Printing in Medicine, and a regular reviewer for prestigious journals such as Biomaterials. Jing is also a member of the management committee of the EPSRC Centre for Doctorial Training in Regenerative Medicine.

Entry qualifications

  • 1st class / 2:1 undergraduate degree, and / or equivalent
  • Completed masters level qualification and / or evidence of substantive published research works

How to apply

Please visit our how to apply page for a step-by-step guide and make an application and include the project ID in your application

Application deadline: Thursday 8 June 2023.

Interviews will take place in mid-June 2023

Fees and funding

This is a NTU studentship funded opportunity

Guidance and support

Further guidance and support on how to apply can be found on our apply page.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418