A new approach to bio-inspired flexible and printed electronics – fabrication of solution-processed electronic devices and circuits

Our team has recently invented a new electronic building-block with remarkable properties for next-generation AI hardware. The project will focus on fabricating highly energy efficient demonstrator circuits using ultra-low-cost techniques. 

Start date
1 July 2021
Three years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award
Funding information

The funding package for this studentship award includes:  

  • Full UK/EU tuition fee covered  
  • Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21)  
  • Research support for consumables, etc. of £1,000 p.a. 
  • Personal Computer.


This fully funded 36-month project will focus on a revolutionary electronic device with numerous uses in data processing and artificial intelligence applications in wearables, distributed sensors and ultra-efficient, low-cost printed electronics able to adapt, learn and perform complex functions while maintaining a compact size. The winner of this studentship will take a leading role in the fabrication and characterisation of a novel transistor and circuits based around it using the latest innovations in additive nanomanufacturing and solution-processing of devices on flexible substrates, culminating with a technology demonstrator system. 

The new transistor has high amplification, excellent power efficiency, tolerance to manufacturing variability, reduced distortion, and the ability to replace complex electronic circuits to achieve certain analogue and mixed-signal functions. Ultimately, this innovative device engineering approach should revolutionise the design of large area electronics by enabling: advanced analogue computation and memory in distributed sensors; neuromorphic behaviour, including hardware adaptation (learning) and control without complex digital supervision; and substantial simplification of conventional circuit design for large area electronics with potentially order-of-magnitude cost savings.  

The work will be carried out at the Advanced Technology Institute under the supervision of Dr Radu Sporea, large-area electronics specialist and EPSRC Rising Star. As the successful candidate, you will be joining a diverse and welcoming team, in a professional yet relaxed work environment focused on outcomes, continuous development and wellbeing. You will contribute to other interesting projects and learn complementary skills. Support networks with the group, the Institute and the University’s Doctoral College present important mentoring and career development prospects. At the end of the project, you will be a leading expert in emerging electronic device design, with a deep understanding of device operation and its applications. As a result of numerous international collaborations, you will be aware of industrial needs and emerging trends.  

Related links
A new device with unique functionality could signal a new design philosophy for… Source-gated transistors for order-of-magnitude performance improvements in thi…

Eligibility criteria

First Class BEng or 2:1 MEng or equivalent in: mathematics, physics, electronic engineering, material science. Desirable: project work in electronics or electronic systems, AI, electronic device fabrication, cleanroom equipment or additive techniques, for example inkjet printing of functional materials; demonstrated ability to deliver projects on time, while working individually or in teams. 

This studentship is only for UK and EU applicants. 

IELTS requirements: If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6. 

The programme will be the Advanced Technology Institute PhD.

How to apply

Applications can be made through the Advanced Technology Institute PhD at the University of Surrey.

Application deadline

Contact details

Radu Sporea
28 ATI 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686086
E-mail: R.A.Sporea@surrey.ac.uk


The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) is a multidisciplinary research centre at the University of Surrey focusing on today’s grand challenges: energy, advanced manufacturing, nanomaterials, quantum devices, and medical therapies. The ATI hosts the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) South Hub and the Ion Beam Centre (national facility). 25% of EPSRC research grants at Surrey (~£22M) were awarded to ATI researchers last year. Facilities available for the project include: Clean room: full photolithography, deposition and patterning suite, inspection, chip bonding and annealing equipment; Large Area Electronics lab: electrical (semi-auto prober, source-measure units, signal generators, data acquisition, Kelvin Probe, oscilloscopes, C-V kit, etc.); Microscopy suite: optical, SEM, TEM, AFM, and focused ion beam system with trained operator; Printing lab: inkjet, screen and gravure printers, slot-die coater; material formulation area; thermal and laser treatment, surface characterisation; Formulation lab with technical staff; Metrology lab (with NPL): analysers, prober, thermo-reflectance and electro-optical suites; Process, device and circuit simulation suite (Silvaco). 

Project partners include: National Physical Laboratory, University of Cambridge, University of Rennes, Yamagata University, Silvaco and Sharp. Where appropriate training visits and exchanges will be organised. As soon as the international situation permits, longer placements (1-4 months) are planned at Yamagata University for device fabrication and system integration.   

Project co-supervisor Dr Vlad Stolojan has 20+ years of experience in the fabrication, analysis and characterisation of nanomaterials and devices. He has worked in the areas of carbon nanoelectronics (CI – Graphene Centre), carbon electrical cables (PI) and developing sensors and energy harvesting for smart textiles and medical smart textiles (PI). He is a co-inventor on large-area electrospinning technology (Surrey patent) and is involved in Radical Fibres, a Surrey start-up. He will use his supervisory experience to advise on experimental techniques, processes and procedures and maximise dissemination impact through engagement with industry and entrepreneurship opportunities. 


Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.