Design and simulation of a miniature implantable tissue oxygen sensor

Oxygen is essential for healthy operation of the human body. However, under conditions of disease or injury, the balance of oxygen delivery and consumption within tissues can be impaired. This can go unnoticed, causing potentially serious medical conditions to progress undiagnosed and untreated. Real-time monitoring of tissue oxygen holds great promise to improve patient outcomes by allowing imbalances to be detected early and treatment planned accordingly.

We are offering a PhD student the opportunity to join our established interdisciplinary research team developing a miniature implantable sensor that measures tissue oxygenation. The sensor operates by electrochemical oxygen detection using microfabricated components (made in the Scottish Microelectronics Centre) to enable miniaturisation and minimise invasiveness. It has potential uses in a wide range of medical applications including cancer radiotherapy optimization and post-operative patient monitoring.

A significant ongoing research focus is to improve our understanding of “biofouling” of the sensor by proteins and cells when implanted in the body. The aim of this PhD project is therefore to explore mass-manufacturable methods of mitigating biofouling by sensor geometry design and material selection. Techniques may include finite-element modelling / multi-physics simulation to explore the effect of biofouling on oxygen diffusion and to support electrode design improvements; analytical electrochemistry techniques to test sensor performance and assess measurement routines that minimise the impact of biofouling; and biocompatible materials / fabrication methods for manufacturing solid-state sensor membranes that support oxygen electrochemistry.

The project will be supervised by Dr Jamie Marland and Prof Ian Underwood. The wider, highly interdisciplinary research team includes members from the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and NHS Lothian. We plan to recruit a motivated and enthusiastic PhD candidate who will relish the challenges and opportunities of such interdisciplinarity. The student will be based within the Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems in the School of Engineering, with access to cutting edge facilities including a well-equipped cleanroom and laboratory space.

There is no dedicated funding source associated with this project, so the application process has two stages. The deadline for initial PhD applications (comprising 2-page CV, cover letter and two references) is 22nd Jan 2024. Following interviews, we will support the selected applicant in applying, during February and March 2024, for a range of internal and external PhD studentship opportunities to cover living and tuition fee costs. If funding is secured, the project will commence in September 2024.

Reference: Marland JRK et al (2021). Post-Operative Monitoring of Intestinal Tissue Oxygenation Using an Implantable Microfabricated Oxygen Sensor. Micromachines, 12(7):810. DOI: 10.3390/mi12070810.

Further Information: 

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:

Closing Date: 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: