/Integrated infrared spectrometers and spectral image sensors for non-invasive monitoring of biomarkers

Integrated infrared spectrometers and spectral image sensors for non-invasive monitoring of biomarkers

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Combining thin-film photodiodes and novel infrared emitters creates opportunities for non-invasive bio-sensing.


Proliferation of wearable devices brought optical sensing technologies directly to customers, which enabled them to monitor their vital signs such as oxygen saturation, blood pressure and pulse, effortlessly and continuously. These technologies collect information (either in transmission or reflection) in the visible to near-infrared (NIR, up to 1 μm wavelength) spectral range where efficient and affordable light sources and photodetectors are available. On the other hand, SWIR light (Short Wave Infra-Red; wavelength range 1-2 μm) can penetrate deeper in the tissue and many relevant molecules (water, proteins, sugars, lipids etc.) have distinct absorption features in SWIR. Hence, extending the operating spectral range to SWIR could greatly expand and enrich the collected information and give consumers deeper insights about their health condition. Unfortunately, commercially available light sources and photodetectors for the SWIR range are too expensive and bulky to be integrated into wearable devices. As an alternative, imec is developing SWIR photodetectors and image sensors based on colloidal quantum dot (CQD) thin-film semiconductors, which have a potential to break the current limitations of SWIR sensors regarding the price, size, and resolution.  CQDs are chemically synthesized nanocrystals with remarkable emissive and absorption properties, and they can be deposited in form of thin films over large areas, enabling scalability not possible with the current SWIR technologies. By pairing CQD-based SWIR emitters with photodetectors, new possibilities for miniaturized and affordable SWIR spectrometers emerge, which can ultimately deliver powerful and real-time monitoring of biomarkers to consumers.   


The purpose of this PhD is to research systems for co-integrated SWIR thin-film photodetectors and emitters. The full stack will be defined by the optical and electrical properties of each layer, as well as the process limitations inherent to stacking of thin films. 

This PhD therefore has three important pillars:  

  1. Investigation of optimal thin film SWIR CQD-emitters, either as converters on top of a visible range light source (photoluminescence based) or as a CQD-based LED (electroluminescence based). 

  1. Optical and electrical simulations of the integrated SWIR-emitters and photodetectors. 

  1. Process development to realize the fully integrated device. 

The candidate 

You are a highly motivated recent graduate holding a master’s degree in nano-engineering, physics, material science, chemistry, electrical engineering, or related. You have an interest in the processing of thin-film semiconductors, optical effects in such layers, and electrical and optical characterization. You will be expected to work safely in a cleanroom environment and acquire processing and lab skills. It is expected that you will present results regularly.  You are a team player and have good communication skills as you will work in a multidisciplinary and multicultural team spanning several imec departments. Given the international character of imec, an excellent knowledge of English is a must. 

Required background: nano-engineering, physics, materials science or electrical engineering with strong affinity for device physics

Type of work: 10% literature study, 30% modeling, 10% design, 30% processing, 20% characterization

Supervisor: Jan Genoe

Daily advisor: Itai Lieberman, Vladimir Pejovic

The reference code for this position is 2023-163. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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