Cell Sensing and Actuation through Acoustic Waves

Leuven - PhD
More than two weeks ago

Mechanobiology is an exciting emerging field that promises to enable non-contact, wave-based bi-directional interface with cells and complex cell systems, thus paving the way to a better understanding of living organisms and ultimately their control and improvement.


Mechanobiology is an exciting field gaining more and more interest. Hence, we know today that cells probe their environment making use of mechanical forces which are ultimately responsible for important processes such as differentiation of stem cells, initiation of transcriptional programs, driving of morphogenesis, migration of cells and control of malignancy. The tools to measure or trigger these forces are currently based on highly specialized and low-throughput methods that are mostly used in laboratory settings. High spatiotemporal sensing and actuating of in vitro and in vivo cells would enable a myriad of applications in basic cell biology, stem cell therapy, neuroscience and cancer diagnosis. Here, we propose the development of a novel sensor/actuator platform for bi-directional cell-level interaction based on acoustic waves .

Phononics, emerging modality extending acoustics like photonics extends optics, describes the integrated manipulation of high frequency acoustic waves. It allows nowadays driving and sensing MHz- to GHz-level ultrasound waves translating in shaped acoustic fields with sub-mm to sub-micron resolution. These waves can interact through acoustic windows with biologic material in the bulk of a sample, at interfaces within target systems or on surfaces where target systems can be located. Further, the transducers and waveguides required to launch, receive and steer phononic waves are currently being integrated with their support (CMOS) electronics to produce agile interaction platforms for cell analysis and interface.

In this PhD, you will be part of the developments of phononics and mechanobiology at imec. You will model, develop and test acoustic transducer systems for system models like heart cell culture, central or peripheral nervous systems, ... .

Required background: Physics Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Bio-Engineer

Type of work: 60% modeling/simulation, 30% experimental, 10% literature

Supervisor: Liesbet Lagae

Daily advisor: Dries Braeken, Xavier Rottenberg

The reference code for this position is 1812-56. Mention this reference code on your application form.


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