PhD project


11 March 2019

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For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Georges Gielen, tel.: +32 16 324076, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than April 15, 2019 via the online application tool
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Apply before 15 April 2019

This PhD project will take place in collaboration between imec and the ESAT-MICAS (Microelectronics and Sensors) research group of the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) of the KU Leuven. Academic supervisors will be Prof. Georges Gielen and Prof. Chris Van Hoof.

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Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases are quite common and can be very severe. For example, GI cancers account for up to 25% of all cancer deaths in developed countries and functional GI disorders bring significant inconvenience in daily life. Since the GI tract is the primary channel through which materials enter and exit the human body, it is also a great location for obtaining useful information related to a number of metabolic diseases. Current investigation of the GI tract or analysis of certain biomarkers usually happens via fecal sampling or endoscopic analysis, which are cumbersome and cannot be done at regular intervals. Recently a number of smart electronic pills or implants to address these issues have emerged. However, the vast majority of these techniques focus on imaging, either visually with (RGB) cameras or with ultrasound, which - while very useful - remain limited to detecting structural abnormalities like cancer or ulcers. 

However, functional GI diseases do not exhibit visually observable structural abnormalities. Therefore, there is a need for a class of devices that can detect other relevant biomarkers like GI pH, temperature, oxygenation, tissue impedance and the presence of various neurotransmitters and hormones along the full GI tract in an autonomous manner. The GI tract is especially interesting since it has significantly less stringent requirements in terms of bio-compatibility than typical implants. Hence, such devices could be conceived as an ingestible pill or smart electronic implant small enough to be implanted via minimally invasive (endoscopic) procedures. However, the challenges are great. Of course, such devices must provide great sensitivity and reliability, with extreme power and size constraints. Recent advancements in electro-chemical sensors (ISFETs, ion-sensitive membranes, carbon-nanotubes, silicon nanowires, nanopores, etc.) enable the design of extremely miniaturized sensors, that can be coupled with advanced ultra-low-power analog sensor interfaces and wireless links.

This PhD research will focus on the development of ultra-low-power integrated electro-chemical sensor readout circuits. The candidate will focus on various state-of-the-art sensor types (ISFET, CNT, ion-sensitive membranes, nanowires & nanopores, etc.) relevant for the application described above. A suitable readout circuit must be designed to interface with these sensors, overcoming the challenges (noise, drift, calibration, leakage, etc) resulting from nonideality of the sensors. Once those electronic readout circuits have been validated, the whole concept will be integrated with the chosen sensors into an extremely miniaturized prototype. The candidate will need to validate the design in a realistic setting.


Required background: Master in Electrical/Electronic Engineering with focus on analog or mixed-signal CMOS IC design, and with interest in chemistry.

Master in Nanoengineering/Nanotechnology is acceptable if the candidate has demonstratable expertise in analog/mixed-signal CMOS IC design.


The position offers a PhD scholarship for 4 years. 

When applying for this PhD position, the applicant must SIMULTANEOUSLY apply for scholarship funding at the following website :

by the deadline indicated on this website.