A new approach to bio-inspired flexible and printed electronics – modelling and simulation of advanced semiconductor 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 understanding and optimising device operation using physical simulations, and on establishing compact models for integration with commercial circuit simulators. 

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 implementations in wearables, distributed sensors and ultra-efficient, low-cost printed electronics. The winner of this studentship will develop advanced toolkits for the simulation and optimisation of a novel transistor and circuits based around it. Using this technology, future printed and flexible circuits will be able to adapt, learn and perform complex functions while maintaining a compact size and extremely low power consumption.  

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, with low-complexity circuits fabricated at low cost; 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.  

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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 characterisation, device and circuit simulation and layout with commercial packages; 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

Nanoelectronics Centre.

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 Marian Florescu is a Reader at the University of Surrey and the Research Director Physics Department and head of the Theory and Computation Group, in the Advanced Technology Institute. Dr Florescu leads a well-established research effort in the areas of fundamentals and applications of non-crystallographic photonic and phononic structures, high-performance computational photonics and classical and quantum optics of structured photonic materials. His expertise in computational electromagnetism, condensed matter physics and TCAD device modelling are highly relevant for the proposed projects.  


Studentships at Surrey

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