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PhD Position in Biomechanical Imaging at University of Portsmouth

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  • PhD Position in Biomechanical Imaging at University of Portsmouth

    Development of 3D/4D microCT imaging protocols for soft-hard tissue gradients

    Project code: ENGN2460416

    Supervisors: Dr. Gianluca Tozzi (UoP), Prof. Asa Barber (UoP), Prof. Gordon Blunn (UCL)

    Project detail:
    Introduction. Micro-computed tomography (microCT) offers accurate and high spatial resolution tovisualise and quantify morphology in mineralised tissues such as bone. However, microCT setups aretypically limited to bone tissue imaging due to weak attenuation of soft tissues (i.e. cartilage) inradiography. Therefore, less mineralised bones as well as soft-hard tissue gradient, are very difficultto image with sufficient contrast. This problem has been mainly addressed by means of contrast-enhanced microCT, which involves bulk staining of soft tissues with a number of radiographiccontrast agents for ex vivo imaging (Stock et al., 2016). More recently, phase-contrast techniquesapplied to microCT lab setups (Xradia 510, Zeiss) allowed the evaluation of soft tissues such asarterial walls, without using any contrast agents (Walton et al., 2015). However, a detailed evaluationof soft-hard material gradients, which are typical of several orthopaedic applications, is still missing.In addition, with the rapid development of in situ microCT testing (4D microCT imaging) and digitalvolume correlation (DVC), a comprehensive mechanical characterisation at the soft-hard interface canbe provided. Importance. This project will provide fundamental advances in 3D/4D microCT imagingof bi-phasic systems such as bone-tendon, bone-cartilage and less mineralised bone constituents (i.e.down to collagen). The work has the potential to unlock the processes of bone mineralization for anumber of important orthopaedic applications, also involving novel bioactive biomaterials for tissueengineering (i.e. bone repair). The project will benefit from top-notch microCT facilities (n=2 Xradia510, Zeiss setups) recently acquired at the University of Portsmouth (UoP), which will provide uniquephase-contrast vs adsorption integration, able to image the soft-hard interfaces in the best waypossible, without the need of elaborated staining procedures. In addition in situ microCT testing (4DmicroCT imaging) will be refined via novel loading devices recently purchased (CT500 Deben) atUoP. The project will be strategic also in reinforcing existing collaborations with UCL/IOMS/RNOH (Prof Blunn). The results obtained have the potential to be published in top peer-reviewed journals (i.e. Nature Scientific Reports) and will be vital for further funding applications. During the PhDprogramme the student will also benefit from numerical/modelling expertise (Dr Bucchi, Dr Pani) available in the newly formed Bioneer research group at UoP.

    Specific eligibility criteria:
    Candidates should be highly motivated and possess good knowledge in at least one of the following:experimental mechanics, microCT imaging, digital volume correlation.
    Informal enquiries can be made to Dr. Gianluca Tozzi: (

    Keywords: 3D/4D microCT, hard tissue, soft tissue, digital volume correlation
    Last edited by Gianluca Tozzi; February 20, 2016, 12:12 PM.