Fabrication and evaluation of superconducting transition-edge nano dosimeters for precision cancer therapy

This project focuses on the fabrication and characterisation of Inductive superconducting transition-edge detectors (ISTED) for accurate quantification of biological effects of radiation to enable precise delivery of X-rays during radiotherapy and the development of a new metrological standard.

Start date
1 July 2021
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information
  • Full UK/EU tuition fee.
  • A stipend of £15,285 for 20/21. This will increase each year in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) rate.
  • Researcher Training Support Grant with a value of £1,000 per annum.


There has been a growing increase in the use of ionising for cancer treatment with the resulting developments leading to an increase in the post-treatment survival rate. As a result, there is now a growing need towards further refining the above treatment processes by minimising uncertainties on biological effect of the absorbed radiation. As result of this, the Bureau of International des Pois et Mesures recommended the definition of a new quantity that enables the biological effect to be quantified with three important research areas were targeted: 

  1. Infer biological effect through nanoscale metrological definition of radiation quantity. 
  2. Development experimental protocol to realise “1.” 
  3. Validation of experiments through simulation. 

The early efforts to develop experimental protocols focused on dimensions at the micrometer length scales which suffer from drawbacks such as the need for tissue-equivalent conversion factors or rely on assumptions such as the energy deposition is proportional to the resultant ionisation measured.  

This cross-collaborative project involving the University of Surrey, University College London and the National physical Laboratory will focus on the development of nanoscale inductive superconducting transition-edge detectors (ISTED) for X-ray dosimetry in radiotherapy. The research will utilise a number of benefits of the ISTED design including fast response times (in the 1-2 microsecond time scales), low thermal noise and tissue equivalence of the detector.  

The successful student will benefit from the detector fabrication and testing expertise shared between the supervisors Dr Imalka Jayawardena and Dr David Cox at the University of Surrey. The student will further benefit from the collaborations with Prof. Ling Hao, one of the inventors of the ISTED devices (from the Quantum Detection Group at the National Physical Laboratory), and the clinical expertise of the external supervisor, Prof. Andrew Nisbet, the head of the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at UCL.  

Related links
NPL - Quantum sensors

Familiarity with the use of focused ion beam based nano-fabrication and/or low noise signal measurement and/or previous research experience with X-rays imaging or detection will be beneficial.  

Eligibility criteria

Candidates must hold a 1st Class Honours degree in electronic engineering or physics.

The application is open to UK and EU students.

IELTS requirements: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

How to apply

Interested candidates should apply through the Advanced Technology Institute PhD programme page.

Application deadline

Contact details

Imalka Jayawardena
E-mail: i.jayawardena@surrey.ac.uk

The cross disciplinary nature of the topic will enable the student to work on Nanofabrication, Quantum Detection, Electronic Engineering and Medical Physics.  The student will be trained on focused ion beam milling and also be given the opportunity to carry out device characterisation together with the Quantum Detection Group at the National Physical Laboratory.   


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