• EH14 4AS

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dynamic acoustic field for particle sorting

The School of Engineering at Heriot-Watt University is seeking a highly motivated graduate to undertake an exciting 3.5 year PhD project “Dynamic acoustic field for particle sorting”
Dr Anne Bernassau

Separating and sorting cells and micro-organisms from a heterogeneous mixture is a fundamental step in basic biological, chemical and clinical studies, enabling regenerative medicine, stem cell research, and improved water safety. Biological cell separation needs to enrich a target cell population whilst minimising the presence of unwanted cells or contaminants. Ultrasonic devices present viable routes to superior technologies for cell sorting. Techniques utilising ultrasonics are particularly valuable because of the potential for efficient sorting of relatively large microfluidic volumes in a robust, harmless and scalable technology.

The PhD project focuses on the development of the Dynamic Acoustic Field technique with developing high throughput sorting device, looking at scalable technique for large systems. Also the student will look at the acoustic physics of particle sorting. The student will also try his technique to life science applications. The student needs to be enthusiasm in working in team and working in inter-disciplinary environment between physics, engineering and life sciences. The project involves partners in industries, national and international collaborations.

Candidates profile:
This position is open to UK and EU citizens. The studentship covers the cost of tuition fees and provides an annual stipend at the standard UK research rate. The PhD position is for 3.5 years duration.
The start date will normally be 1st October 2015.

To undertake this research, we are seeking a motivated candidate with a first class degree in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering/Applied Sciences/Biotechnology/ Biomedical Engineering or similar, with
knowledge, interest, and background in electronics and life sciences applications.

Good communication skills in English are essential. Applicants must be able to demonstrate their ability for independent work.

Self funded students can directly contact me and discuss possible PhD projects.


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

Her interests include ultrasonic sensors, ultrasonic transducers fabrication, micro-fabrication, transducer arrays, acoustofluidics, acoustic particle manipulation and piezoelectric materials.

Acoustic manipulation enable high throughput, dynamic and precise control of micro-particles such as living cells and drugs carriers. Such technology can be integrated with sensors to allow further analyses of manipulated particles. Applications of these technologies include all kind of living biological cell studies such as sorting, filtering and concentrating, and further to bio-engineering such as controlled tissue culture.


Anne L. Bernassau was born in Paris, France and earned her Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Medical Science and Technology at the University of Dundee, UK in 2009. Her PhD topic was on “Micro-engineering for high frequency ultrasound arrays”. She joined the University of Glasgow on the collaborative project “Electronic sonotweezers: particle manipulation with ultrasonic arrays” and pioneered acoustic multi-transducers manipulation for the use of bio-engineering and targeted drug delivery applications. 

After the success of sonotweezers, she secured a 4 year Lord Kelvin Adam Smith fellowship as an independent academic researcher.


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