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Advanced Manufacturing for Magnetic Soft Continuum Surgical Robotics

PGR-P-1459

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Tuesday 31 January 2023
Project start date
Sunday 1 October 2023
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Funding
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Supervisors
Dr James Chandler and Professor Pietro Valdastri
Additional supervisors
Professor Russell Harris
Schools
School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Research groups/institutes
Institute of Robotics, Autonomous Systems and Sensing
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Soft and continuum robots have demonstrated efficacy in numerous applications, including delicate object handling and manipulation, rehabilitation devices, and surgical and endoscopic robotics. For proposed medical applications, the benefit of these systems comes from their highly compliant, long, slender structures allowing safer interaction with the delicate tissues of the human body while delivering the possibility to reach deeper into the anatomy in a minimally invasive way; thus enabling new and improved approaches to diagnosis and treatment. To continue the technological push of soft continuum robotics, numerous material and actuation approaches have been considered. Of these, magnetic actuation presents significant benefit due to wireless actuation and many controllable degrees of freedom within small, soft form factors.<br /> <br /> However, as the range and complexity of magnetic soft continuum robot (MSCR) designs has increased it has exposed a dearth in specific advanced fabrication technology capable of maximally exploiting their potential. This PhD project will develop advanced fabrication approaches for tackling the critical design challenges of magnetic material distribution and orientation and structural reinforcement. The project will bridge mechatronics and robotics, soft robotics, materials and process control; offering a unique interdisciplinary opportunity for an ambitious candidate.<br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:11px">To date, a number of fabrication strategies have been proposed for magnetic soft robot design, however, none are well suited to the unique challenges of continuum structures. The project will focus on tackling these specific needs; relating to controlled (magnetic and non-magnetic) material distribution and alignment, structural reinforcement for selective anisotropic stiffness, and inclusion of functional components (e.g. sensors). The possibility to readily and consistently produce functional MSCRs optimized for a specific anatomy or task will facilitate a step change in their evaluation and future translation. The approaches employed will also have potential impact to wider soft robotic areas for tendon-driven, pneumatic, and electroactive polymer designs.</p> <p>More about&nbsp;<a href="https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/100772">Soft</a> and <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/2516-1091/ab9f41/meta">continuum</a>&nbsp;robots and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.stormlabuk.com/">STORM</a>&nbsp;lab.</p> <p><strong>You can start your PhD from 1 August 2023 but you must be able to start by no later than 1 November 2023.</strong></p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.leeds.ac.uk/research-applying/doc/applying-research-degrees">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PhD Electronic &amp; Electrical Engineering FT</strong></em> and in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Hybrid Soft and Continuum Robots for Medical Applications</strong></em> as well as&nbsp;<a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/faculty-engineering-physical-sciences/staff/576/dr-james-chandler">Dr James Chandler</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 31 January 2023:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> <li>Funding information including any alternative sources of funding that you are applying for or if you are able to pay your own fees and maintenance</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p class="MsoNoSpacing">A highly competitive School of Electronic &amp; Electrical Engineering Studentship consisting of the award of fees at the UK fee rate of &pound;4,596 or Non-UK fee rate of &pound;25,500&nbsp;(currently &pound;17,668 for session 2022/23) together with a maintenance grant (currently &pound;17,668 for session 2022/23) for 3.5 years.</p> <p>This opportunity is open to all applicants. All candidates will be placed into the School of Electronic &amp; Electrical Engineering Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.</p> <p><strong>Important:&nbsp;</strong> Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <strong>not</strong> covered under this studentship.</p> <p>Please refer to the UK&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/">UKCISA</a>&nbsp;website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about this project, please contact Dr James Chandler by email:&nbsp;<br /> <a href="mailto:EMAIL@leeds.ac.uk">J.H.Chandler@leeds.ac.uk</a></p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk">phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk</a></p>


<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>
<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>