PhD scholarship in Miniaturized Solar Cell for Retinal Prosthesis

Monday 22 Feb 21

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Apply no later than 19 March 2021
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If you are keen on applying your microengineering skills and advance the state of the art in neuroscience, we here can offer you a unique opportunity to improve the life of people suffering from blinding diseases. In the project BIocompatible Retinal prosthesis for restoring visual computations in blinding Diseases (BIRD), we are looking for a talented PhD candidate for the microfabrication of a photovoltaic implant for partial restoration of the vision of blind people. In this Exploratory Interdisciplinary Synergy project funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation you will work in close collaboration with neuroscientists at Aarhus University. 

You will be based at DTU Nanolab, where we conduct cross-disciplinary research and apply micro- and nanotechnology to a wide range of scientific disciplines and applications. The Biomaterial Microsystems group is a highly ambitious group, pursuing research on microfabrication of 3D polymer and carbon structures and devices and their application in drug delivery, bioelectrochemistry and sustainable energy.

Responsibilities and tasks
Two of the most widespread causes of blindness are age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), combined affecting more than 170 Million people. The detailed pathophysiology of AMD and RP is unknown, but the degeneration of retinal photoreceptors is a central event leading to visual loss in these diseases. There are no effective treatments for photoreceptor degeneration.


The overall aim of BIRD is to develop a biocompatible retinal implant using photovoltaics in order to restore visual computations for blind patients. We will do this by developing a photovoltaic chip (solar cell array) with thousands of pixels and 3D electrodes. We will study how this chip interacts with different nerve cells and the retinal biology and finally test whether such a chip produces signals towards meaningful vision.

Your main contribution will be the fabrication of the photovoltaic cell array providing conversion of an external optical input signal into an electrical potential for stimulation of neural cells in the human eye. The miniaturized solar cell is fabricated in the DTU Nanolab cleanroom facilities. Your primary tasks will be to:

  • plan and execute experimental research
  • design, fabricate and optimize a miniaturized solar cell array in an iterative process
  • determine the quantum efficiency, minority carrier lifetime and IV-characteristics
  • integrate 3D microelectrodes on the solar cell
  • investigate the interaction of the miniaturized solar cell with retinal tissue 
  • collaborate with an interdisciplinary research team in a focused scientific effort
  • contribute as teaching assistant at DTU Nanolab and supervise BSc and MSc student projects

Qualifications
You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) in micro- or nanoengineering, physics, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree. Experience with cleanroom fabrication is an advantage. You are expected to have a keen interest in biomedical applications and the ability to interact with researchers in a very interdisciplinary environment. A high grade average and excellent English language skills are decisive to be considered for the scholarship.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

Assessment
The assessment of the applicants will be made by Prof. Stephan Sylvest Keller (DTU Nanolab), Researcher Rasmus Schmidt Davidsen (DTU Nanolab) and Assoc. Prof. Keisuke Yonehara (Aarhus University). 

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Prof. Stephan Sylvest Keller, suke@dtu.dk.

You can read more about DTU Nanolab and the Biomaterial Microsystems group at www.nanolab.dtu.dk.


If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 19 March 2021 (Danish time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Nanolab is a common infrastructure and research facility located at and fully owned by the Technical University of Denmark, DTU. The core facilities consist of a large cleanroom and a state-of-the-art electron microscopy center inaugurated in 2007. The research activities carried out at DTU Nanolab span from nano- and microfabrication with Silicon-based materials, carbon and polymers to the highly sophisticated analysis of nanoscale materials in hard and soft matter. Since 2018, DTU Nanolab is extended to provide expertise in soft matter from small molecule complexes to biological cells.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.