Acoustic holographic projection for direct brain/body stimulation

Leuven - PhD
More than two weeks ago

Holographic projection of modulated acoustic energy through intact skull with sub-mm resolution will change the lives of millions of patients (and their families) currently treated by electroshock therapy with cubic centimeter resolution through brain probes placed by invasive open-skull surgery.


Micro and nanotechnologies are fast becoming key enablers for medical research, diagnosis, treatment and prosthetics. In particular, the past decade has seen the development of ever more potent sensors and imaging systems geared to acquire vast amount of diverse data on our health and fitness condition, i.e. optical coherence tomography on catheter, acoustic super-resolution brain imaging, wearable ECG and EEG, ... . Expert systems are currently  under development that automate and optimize the interpretation of these data. However, a new generation of body interfaces must be devised to take feedback actions and enable for example seamless cures, targeted medicine dispensation or direct stimulation of body parts.

Novel interfacing modalities need to address efficiently fine intra-body features at different depths in non-harmful ways. To that purpose, surface patches, implanted devices (brain probes) or wave-based processes are considered. High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is seen as the most promising technique as it is non-invasive, relies on non-ionising acoustic waves with good body penetration and takes advantage of very low wavelength at low frequency. Further, HIFU can be used to treat neurological, oncological, urological, etc. disorders, proceed to deep-tissue surgery as well as provide direct inputs to brain (optical cortex excitation) and peripheral nervous system (haptic feedback through finger receptors).

This PhD aims at revolutionizing HIFU by developing a novel type of agile integrated holographic projection chip relying on tunable diffractive acoustic elements for central/peripheral nervous systems and wound healing. For this purpose, the PhD candidate will be embedded at the interface between the imec teams that pioneered the developments of high power micromachined ultrasound transducers (MUTs) and microsystems for Life Science applications. The candidate will have to study literature; and by modeling different possibilities drive the benefits and drawbacks of different integration approaches.  Candidate will produce a proof of concept with the most promising technique. Together with the life science experts and fabrication teams, the candidate will participate to the design, simulation, development, manufacturing and characterization of the prototype.

Required background: Physics engineering, electrical engineering, bio engineering

Type of work: 50% modeling/simulation, 40% experimental, 10% literqture

Supervisor: Liesbet Lagae

Daily advisor: Xavier Rottenberg

The reference code for this position is 1812-50. Mention this reference code on your application form.


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