Micro-Environment Lab Chips for Disease and Cancer Studies fabricated via Ultrafast-laser combined with Spatial Light Modulators and Lab on Chip Techniques


This project is part of a 4-year Dual PhD degree programme between the National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan) and the University of Liverpool (England). As part of the NTHU-UoL Dual PhD Award students are in the unique position of being able to gain 2 PhD awards at the end of their degree from two internationally recognised world-leading Universities. As well as benefiting from a rich cultural experience, students can draw on large-scale national facilities of both countries and create a worldwide network of contacts across two continents.

The latest set of projects targeted goal #11 from the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Micro-environment lab chips will be developed via ultrafast laser-material processing combined with spatial light modulator laser beam engineering and micro-electromechanical system/lab on chip techniques for disease and cancer studies.

Recently, microfluidics, optical tweezers and lab on chip techniques have been widely applied to manipulate cells in a biomimicking microenvironment for clinical research, such as drugs and toxicity screening, tissue engineering, disease study and cancer immunotherapy. The formation, homeostasis and regeneration of tissues (tissue dynamics) is the result of intricate temporal and spatial coordination of numerous individual cell fate processes, each of which is regulated not only by cell-autonomous processes but also by extracellular microenvironmental stimuli. Hence, the ability to approach tissue-mimetic reconstruction on chip and manipulate the cellular microenvironment to facilitate cell-cell interactions, cell-extracellular-matrix interactions and soluble stimuli will be explored in this work.

Combining photo patterned hydrogels with dielectrophoresis/OET (optoelectronic tweezers) in-parallel manipulation, three-dimensional patterning of multiple cell types on microfluidic lab chips will be investigated. The PhD student will explore ultrafast laser-material processing using spatial light modulators and micro-electromechanical system (MEMS)/lab on chip techniques to develop micro-environment Lab chips for the applications of disease and cancer studies.

The processing of materials with ultra-short pulse length lasers (or ultrafast) operating in the picosecond (ps) and femtosecond (fs) regime results largely in non-thermal laser material interaction mechanisms. This allows high precision surface ablation to be achieved with minimal damage to the surrounding material. An area where there is significant research potential is in techniques for beam shape and energy optimisation to suit particular materials and applications. This project will explore novel diffractive means of beam shaping using spatial light modulation for rapid precision thin film pattering of bespoke structures for the fabrication of microfluidic devices. This will combine the complementary strengths between NTHU and the University of Liverpool to provide an exciting interdisciplinary research opportunity.

Applicants should apply via the University of Liverpool application form, for a PhD in the subject area listed above.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

This project is a part of a 4-year dual PhD programme between National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan) and the University of Liverpool (England). Students should spend equal time studying in each institution.  Both the UoL and NTHU have agreed to waive the tuition fees for the duration of the project and stipend of $11,000 TWD/£280 GBP a month will be provided as a contribution to living costs. When applying please ensure you Quote the supervisor & project title you wish to apply for and note ‘NTHU-UoL Dual Scholarship’ when asked for details of how plan to finance your studies