UCL EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Integrated Imaging in Healthcare


Developing high-sensitivity photoacoustic imaging systems

Now Closed

Image of subcutaneous muring tumour

16 March 2020

Now Closed

Primary Supervisor: Dr James Guggenheim

A 4-year PhD studentship is available in the Photoacoustic Imaging Group in UCL’s Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering. The aim of the PhD project will be to investigate developing new high-sensitivity photoacoustic imaging systems (further details below). The studentship funding covers an annual tax free stipend (at least £17,280 per year) and tuition fees. As the studentship is funded by the EPSRC, standard EPSRC eligibility criteria apply. Please see the EPSRC website for further details. The successful candidate will join the UCL CDT in Intelligent, Integrated Imaging in Healthcare (i4health) and benefit from the activities and events organised by this centre.

Despite its many strengths, conventional PAI has certain limitations. For instance, due to factors such as light attenuation in tissue and insufficient detection sensitivity, imaging penetration depth is typically limited to about 1 cm. This penetration depth limit compromises PAI’s ability to image deep tissue structures that could inform assessments of cardiovascular diseases, cancers and other conditions. To address this limitation, members of the UCL Photoacoustic Imaging Group are investigating a range of approaches to develop more highly-sensitive PAI systems. Approaches include:

  • Developing more sensitive ultrasound sensors based on optical interferometers which could enable detecting weaker photoacoustic signals.
  • Developing techniques for controlling light propagation through tissue which could enable generating stronger photoacoustic signals at depth.
  • Developing new systems combining photoacoustic imaging with traditional ultrasound to reveal additional disease-relevant tissue structure

This PhD project will involve conducting research in these areas or a related area. The project work will combine elements of imaging system design, photoacoustic experimentation, developing experimental setups involving lasers, ultrasound equipment and other components, and performing computer programming for data handling, data visualisation and systems control


The project will suit someone wishing to do a PhD in an internationally outstanding photoacoustic imaging research group, and who has an interest in developing new medical imaging techniques. Applicants should have a first degree in Physics, Electronic Engineering, Biomedical Engineering or a related subject at 2:1 level or above (or equivalent). Existing knowledge in one or more of the areas of optics, ultrasonics, electronics, computer programming, and imaging would be desirable. Also desirable is some prior experience of carrying out research. Essential criteria are an ability and willingness to: manage your own time; self-direct in research; and build and sustain knowledge of relevant scientific literature. Also essential is a high level of enthusiasm, self-motivation, dedication to excellent science and strong communication skills.

To Apply 

To make an application for this project please send a CV and covering letter Dr James Guggenheim j.guggenheim@ucl.ac.uk. Your letter should explain how you meet the required EPSRC eligibility criteria, detail your relevant experience, why you wish to apply for this position, why you believe you are a suitable candidate, and your long-term research and professional goals.


Closing Date: 17th July 2020