Cutaneous wireless haptic interfaces based on unconventional flexible materials
Wearable smart electronic devices offer compelling biomonitoring capabilities: they could detect, analyze, and transmit information concerning vital signs and ambient data as well as provide immediate biofeedback to the wearer. The qualified candidate will work towards improving wearability and transparency of cutaneous (i.e. on-skin) haptic interfaces. This interdisciplinary PhD project builds on synergies between the IETR laboratory of CNRS and the IRISA laboratory of Inria / CNRS (RAINBOW team). Research at IETR focuses on complex radiating systems, metasurfaces, and bioelectromagnetics. Research at IRISA covers the fields from computer and network architecture to artificial intelligence, incuding software engineering, distributed systems, and virtual reality.
Background and Mission
Haptic feedback for wearables is receiving growing attention in consumer electronics, wireless biotelemetry, and virtual reality applications but still suffer from many limiting factors, among which are: (1) limited wearability (bulky and heavy actuators, uncomfortable straps, cumbersome wiring for signal and power transfer); (2) poor perceptual transparency (a user feels the haptic devices and actuator as much or even more than the stimulus to be delivered). Developing wireless solutions for signal (and even power) transmission could significantly improve wearability and transparency of wearable haptic interfaces.
The PhD student will work towards the development of a fully wireless, miniature haptic unit, which can be worn in multiple parts of the body in a highly comfortable and wearable manner. Such device could be realized as, for instance, a flexible adhesive patch that contains sensing (pressure, temperature, sweat composition, etc.), actuation (e.g., a vibrotactile motor or a skin stretch tactor), and communication units. Many of required technological advancement is already in place thanks to advances in a variety of disciplines. However, efficient and flexible radiating structures for data and power transfer remain an open challenge. To address this challenge, the successful candidate will have access to the unique interdisciplinary know-how of IETR in the field of complex radiating structures and bioelectromagnetics as well as the IRISA experience in haptics and wearable interfaces. Last generation of high-performance workstations with GPU accelerators and advanced numerical solvers will be used to handle computationally large multi-scale and multi-physical problems. State-of-the-art manufacturing and measurement facilities will help with the experimental characterization of the prototypes.
Main Duties Include
- Conduct a systematic review and develop original research ideas in the field of adaptive wireless powering of miniature implantable bioelectronics.
- Publish sections of the work in high-profile journals, attend and present key results at conferences.
- Become an active member of the professional community, national and international.
We seek highly engaged and motivated candidates with an M.Sc. (or equivalent) degree in electromagnetics, electrical engineering, electronics, computational science, applied mathematics or physics.
- Strong background in antennas and microwave engineering.
- Knowledge of numerical modeling and experience with commercial or open-source numerical solvers (e.g. COMSOL, CST, Ansys); programming skills (Python or MATLAB).
- Fluency in English: the candidate should be conversant and articulate in English and must have strong writing skills. Knowledge of French is not required but would be appreciated.
- Good communication skills are important.
The qualified candidate will be part of a dynamic multidisciplinary team in a highly collaborative and stimulating environment. He/she will have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, high-performance computing facilities and receive a competitive salary.
- Possibility of subsidized housing (student residencies) and meals in university restaurants,
- Partial reimbursement of public transport costs,
- 7 weeks of annual leave + possibility of exceptional leave (moving home, etc.),
- Social, cultural and sports events and activities,
- Social security coverage.
Funding: Full scholarship provided by the University of Rennes 1.
Possibility of funded international mobility (if eligible; require a separate application).
Duration: 36 months, expected starting date is Oct. 2020.
Location: Rennes, France. Laboratories IETR CNRS (75%) and IRISA (25%).
How to Apply
Each application should consist of (PDF format would be appreciated):
- a CV [incl. the contact details of two professional references (mail, address, position)],
- a motivation letter,
- a copy of the student’s university transcripts (with ranking, if available).
In the motivation letter, the applicant is encouraged to include the following details:
- An explanation of interest in the research we conduct and why he/she believes he/she is suitable for the position,
- Details of undergraduate and MSc projects,
- Details of any relevant courses previously taken (if applicable),
- Details of any relevant work experience (if applicable).
5G at millimeter waves: contribution to design of a near-field dosimetry system in the 60-GHz band for user exposure assesment
Research Fields: millimeter waves, microwave modeling and systems, electromagnetic dosimetry, antennas and probes, tissue-equivalent models
Research Laboratory: Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications of Rennes (IETR), French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France.
Expected Starting Date: First semester 2020
The candidate will join Electromagnetic Waves in Complex Media Team (WAVES, www.ietr.fr/WAVES.html) of the IETR. Our research activities in biomedical electromagnetics cover a wide spectrum of fundamental and applied research spreading from multi-physics and multi-scale modeling to advanced technologies for body-centric wireless communications. The team was at the origin of pioneering innovations in biomedical electromagnetics, including the first mm-wave tissue-equivalent phantoms, novel reflectivity based surface phantom concept, new broadband multi-physics characterization technique for Debye-type materials, innovative mm-wave textile antennas for smart clothes, ultra-robust miniature implantable UHF antennas, and the first mm-wave reverberation chamber.
The project deals with the design, optimization and experimental characterization of a new MMW dosimetry system and the associated methodology for near-field exposure assessment.
Existing experimental MMW dosimetry techniques are limited to electromagnetic field measurements using free-space probes in vicinity of wireless devices. These solutions do not account for a potential increase of exposure levels due to the presence of human body and may cause underestimation of exposure levels. To overcome these limitations, we propose an alternative approach based on a solid skin-equivalent phantom model that was recently introduced by our research team in the 60-GHz band . The phantom comprises a thin layer of a composite dielectric material (PDMS saturated with the carbon powder) deposited on a metallic ground plane. The properties of the dielectric layer (thickness, composition) are optimized to reproduce the reflection coefficient from the human skin. This solid tissue-equivalent model will be used as a starting point to design a MMW dosimetry system for measurements of power density accounting for perturbation of the EM fields radiated by a MMW wireless device in presence of the human body. The proposed system will integrate two key functionalities: (1) it will accurately reproduce the reflection coefficient of human skin and (2) it will enable retrieval of the power density based on the field measurements inside the tissue-equivalent phantom.
1) A. R. Guraliuc, M. Zhadobov, O. De Sagazan, R. Sauleau. Solid phantom for body-centric propagation measurements at 60 GHz. IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, 62(6), pp. 1373–1380, Mai 2014.
2) A. Guraliuc, M. Zhadobov, R. Sauleau, L. Marnat, L. Dussopt. Near-field user exposure in forthcoming 5G scenarios in the 60-GHz band. IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, 65(12), pp. 6606–6615, Dec. 2017.
3) M. Zhadobov, C. Leduc, A. Guraliuc, N. Chahat, R. Sauleau. Antenna / human body interactions in the 60 GHz band: state of knowledge and recent advances. State-of-the-Art in Body-Centric Wireless Communications and Associated Applications, IET, pp. 97–142, Jun. 2016.
- Conduct research and contribute to the development of the experimental setup for MMW dosimetry
- Propose and evaluate technical solutions on various aspects of the project including numerical simulations and experimental works
- Investigate different antennas solutions for near-field measurements
- Simulate (using commercial software, like CST) the EM wave scattering by and propagation through metal-dielectric structures (multi-layer and/or periodic)
- Contribute to a proof-of-concept experiment aimed at implementation and characterization of the developed solutions
Education: PhD degree or equivalent experience.
Background: Electromagnetics, antenna design, microwave design / measurements, numerical modeling, simulations. Knowledge in electronics is welcome but not mandatory.
How to apply
To apply please send your CV, motivation letter, reference letters (optional), and a copy of your PhD diploma to firstname.lastname@example.org