Postgraduate research opportunities Technologies for optogenetic neural interfacing


Key facts

  • Opens: Tuesday 19 December 2023
  • Deadline: Thursday 30 June 2011
  • Number of places: 2
  • Duration: 42 months
  • Funding: Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


In this PhD project we aim to develop next-generation neural interfaces that combine multi-wavelength control of neurons with electrophysiological recording. The student will join a well-resourced team of researchers, including physicists, engineers and neuroscientists with collaborations across the US and Europe.
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To enter our PhD programme applicants require an upper-second or first-class BSc Honours degree, or a Masters qualification of equal or higher standard, in Physics, Engineering or a related discipline. Full funding, covering fees and stipend, is available for applicants who are UK Nationals (meeting residency requirements) or have settled status (meeting residency requirements), pre-settled status or otherwise have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

The ability to express light-sensitive proteins (opsins) in neurons, in a genetically-targeted fashion, has helped transform our understanding of how the brain functions. These opsins act as light switches that can turn on or off specific populations of neurons in the brain. The technique has become known as optogenetics and is transforming our understanding of brain function, leading to exciting opportunities for next-generation neurotechnologies.

In this PhD, you will develop a novel neural interface technology for optogenetic control of neural circuits. This will be a multi-channel, optoelectronic, neural interface device that has the ability to emit at multiple wavelengths and record the subsequent neural activity in vivo. The multi-wavelength capability means that more than one class of neurons can be excited or inhibited simultaneously. This ability to precisely activate or inhibit specific neural circuits, while recording their activity, opens up the possibility of closed-loop control of neural circuits, with implications for how we best address neurodegenerative disorders.

You will join a team of ~16 researchers, consisting of engineers, physicists and neuroscientists. The PhD student will have access to cutting-edge laboratory facilities, including a state-of-the-art semiconductor microfabrication cleanroom, where the optoelectronic devices fabricated. These are integrated into systems and characterised in our photonics laboratories, before testing with the neuroscience team. We seek an enthusiastic physicist or engineer to develop this neurophotonic approach to neural interfacing. There will be extensive collaborative opportunities across the IOP (Institute of Photonics), the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP) and our international partners.

Further information

Institute of Photonics: The Institute of Photonics (IoP), part of the Department of Physics, is a centre of excellence in applications-oriented research at the University of Strathclyde.  The Institute’s key objective is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial applications and development in the area of photonics. The IoP is located in the £100M Technology and Innovation Centre on Strathclyde’s Glasgow city centre campus, at the heart of Glasgow’s Innovation District, where it is co-located with the UK’s first Fraunhofer Research Centre. Researchers at the IoP are active in a broad range of photonics fields under the areas of Photonic Devices, Advanced Lasers and Neurophotonics.

Strathclyde Physics is a member of SUPA, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.

The University of Strathclyde has, in recent years, been the recipient of the following awards: The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education 2019, 2021 & 2023; Times Higher Education University of the Year 2012 & 2019; Daily Mail University of the Year 2024 Runner-Up; Daily Mail Scottish University of the Year 2024; Triple E European Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2023

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Funding details

The funding covers the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.
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Professor Mathieson

Professor Keith Mathieson

Institute of Photonics

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Dr Sakata

Dr Shuzo Sakata

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

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Applicants should send an up-to-date CV to in the first instance.

Number of places: 2

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Contact us

For further details, contact