Openings

PhD Position

Cutaneous wireless haptic interfaces based on unconventional flexible materials

Summary

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.

Required Skills

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.

Advantages

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.

In addition:

  • 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

Please send your applications to:
Dr. Denys Nikolayev (denys.nikolayev@univ-rennes1.fr),
Dr. Claudio Pacchierotti (claudio.pacchierotti@irisa.fr),
Dr. Maxim Zhadobov (maxim.zhadobov@univ-rennes1.fr).

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).

Post-Doctoral Position

Near-field dosimetry for exposure assessment in 5G scenarios at millimeter waves

Context and Background

Continuous development of mobile terminals, such as smartphones, tablets, and body-worn electronic devices, has increased the wireless data traffic that keeps growing due to video streaming applications and cloud computing. The increasing need in high-performance mobile communications leads to a fast development of next-generation heterogeneous 5G cellular mobile networks. To meet the bandwidth requirement, the upper limit of the spectrum used for 5G has shifted towards the millimeter-wave (MMW) band. In coming years, MMW mobile broadband systems will be integrated in 5G networks. The new use cases and services will involve interaction of radiating devices with the human body, both in terms of the human body impact on the performance of wireless devices as well as in terms of user exposure to electromagnetic fields. This includes near-field exposure by wearable and mobile devices operating in vicinity of the human body, resulting in locally relatively high exposure levels under near-field exposure conditions at MMW due to localized absorption. The existing standards and dosimetry methods, originally developed for 3G/4G broadband cellular network technology operating in sub-6GHz range, are not directly scalable to MMW. This motivates research towards new solutions for accurate experimental dosimetry at MMW aimed at anticipating the forthcoming deployment of 5G networks.

Objectives

This post-doctoral research project deals with the design, optimization and characterization related to a novel experimental dosimetry concept and associated methodology for near-field exposure assessment at MMW applied to 5G.

Project summary

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 an 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 introduced by our research team in the 60-GHz band [1]. The phantom comprises a thin layer of a lossy 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.

Research environment

he candidate will join the IETR laboratory of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). 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.

Candidate

We seek for highly engaged and motivated candidates with a PhD degree in electro­magnetics, electrical engineering, electronics, computational science.

  • Strong background in electromagnetics, antenna design and microwave engineering. Knowledge in electronics is welcome but not mandatory.
  • Knowledge of numerical modeling and experience with commercial or open-source numerical solvers (e.g. CST, Ansys, SIM4LIFE); programming skills (e.g. 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.

How to apply

To apply please send your CV, motivation letter, reference letters (optional), and a copy of your PhD diploma to maxim.zhadobov@univ-rennes1.fr