Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases are quite common and can be very severe. In fact, gastrointestinal cancers account for up to 25% of all cancer deaths in developed. As the primary channel through which materials enter and exit the human body, the GI tract is also a great location for obtaining useful information related to a number of metabolic diseases. Nowadays investigation of the GI tract or analysis of certain biomarkers in the GI tract usually happens via fecal sampling or endoscopic analysis. These methods are cumbersome and cannot be done at a regular interval nor do they provide visibility of the full GI tract.
Parameters that are typically of relevance are gastrointestinal pH, temperature, oxygenation, and the presence of various biomarkers. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in various electronic sampling devices that can examine these along the full GI tract in an autonomic manner. The GI tract is especially interesting since it has significantly less stringent requirements in terms of bio-compatibility than typical implants. Such an ingestible device obviously has great benefits as it is significantly more comfortable than methods used today. Furthermore it can provide information along the full GI tract and can be done, due to its simplicity, at much more regular intervals. However, the challenges are great. Off course, such devices must provide great sensitivity and reliability, with extreme power and size constraints. Recent advancements in electro-chemical sensors (ISFETs, ion-sensitive membranes, carbon-nanotubes, ...) offer the potential for extremely miniaturized sensors and coupled with advancements in ultra-low-power analog sensor interface designs and wireless links, now make this type of devices feasible. Having an ultra-low-power electrochemical sensor available is just the first step though. The next logical step is integrating closed loop personalized therapy.
This PhD will focus on the development of ultra-low-power electro-chemical sensor readout circuits. The candidate will focus on various state-of-the-art sensor types (ISFET, CNT, ion-sensitive membranes, ...) relevant for the above described application. Once he has identified the best and most suitable sensor, he will be responsible for designing ultra-low-power and extremely small area sensor readout circuits. Once those electronic readouts have been validated, the whole concept will be integrated with the chosen sensors into an extremely miniaturized prototype.
Electrical engineering with strong affinity to integrated circuit design.
Type of work:
50% circuit innovation (analog IC design), 30% system design and validation, 20% measurements.
Supervisor: Chris Van Hoof
Daily advisor: Nick Van Helleputte
When you apply for this PhD project, mention the following reference code in the imec application form: ref. SE 1704-12.