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Themes of study


The research in Bionics aims to learn from  processes, systems and functions found in nature to inspire novel devices and engineering solutions.

Over the decades, focus and momentum in Bionics research have shifted from materials to technology development. In the near future, Bionics will evolve to seamlessly integrate living organisms with engineered devices to enhance quality of life and functionality of the living.

Education in Bionics will need to adapt to changing scenery in Bionics research; Graduates will need to excel in observation of, and interference with, biological organisms for development of next generation bionic technologies.  Because Bionics, in its essence, is an applied science, its graduates will also need to be well-trained in translation of their research outcomes to economically viable products.

Research Themes

The Graduate program offers research opportunities in four complimentary themes: Bioelectronics, Biomimetics, Neurobionics, and Optoelectronics.

Research in Bioelectronics encompasses the application of electronics in biological processes.  A key aspect of this interaction is utilisation of micro- and nanoelectronics to interface with biological materials. Practical application of bioelectronic research includes, but is not limited to, bionic prosthesis, biocompatible microelectronics, bionic actuators, bionic sensors, and hybrid circuits.

Biomimetics is inspired from Nature and translates its organisational and operational principles into systems and devices. Increasingly, biomimetics is also used for system optimisation, including in management. Due to its application oriented approach, research in biomimetics is ideally suited for development of novel (smart) bio-sensors, smart surfaces, autonomously navigating robots, and remote sensing devices among many others.

Objective of the newly emerging field of Neurobionics is to replicate the information processing, communication and storage functions of the nervous system in artificial devices and software. Resulting microsystems can be integrated with a biological organism to substitute failed or damaged parts of the nervous system, or otherwise utilised as an advance information processing device. Neurobionics is closely linked to Bioelectronics, Biomimetics and increasingly to Optoelectronics in particular in development and implementation of novel sensors with implantable microsystems, as well as light mediated control of neural activity, which will one day serve as a unique way to control brain functions.

Optoelectronics is the study, development and application of electronic devices that generate, detect or control light. Originally considered as a subfield of photonics, optoelectronics has revolutionised the daily life through communication and information transfer related applications. Thanks to the recent developments in optogenetics that allow light-gated generation of electrical activity in excitable cells, including those in the brain and heart, optoelectronics has now a significant potential in medical bionics ranging from photodynamic therapy and retinal implants to light-gated control of epilepsy and miniaturized fluorescence microscopes.

Curriculum: Training curriculum includes two semesters of course work, offered in English, during the first year of the Graduate studies and an individualised curriculum thereafter.  The core curriculum offered in the first year includes classes in:

  • Bionics of Locomotion and Controls
  • Bionics of Sensing and Structures
  • Computation and Modelling
  • Development and Management
  • Energy and Materials
  • Materials and Functions
  • Mechanics and Control
  • Sensors

In addition, students undertake two  Applied Research Projects relevant to the curriculum, and write a research  based Master’s thesis before the completion of the first year.

Second year onwards, depending on student’s educational background and requirements of his/her research project, a personalised curriculum is created by the doctoral candidate and his/her supervisors.  Classes of interest might include:

  • Advanced Quantitative Brain Circuits
  • Analysis of Embedded Systems
  • Automated Reasoning
  • Bayesian and Decision Models in AI
  • Bioinformatics
  • Bio-inspired Algorithms
  • Data Analysis
  • Electronics
  • Electronic Structure of Materials
  • Information Retrieval
  • Lasers and Electro-optics
  • Nano-Electronics
  • Spin glasses and Neural Networks
  • System Development
  • Systems Neuroscience
  • Trends in Medical Biosciences