Professor John Batchelor


John Batchelor

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Job title: Professor of Antenna Technology
Division: School of Engineering and Digital Arts
Organisation: University of Kent
Tags: Fellowship: Established Career
Related theme: Digital economy Engineering Healthcare technologies ICT Manufacturing the future


John Batchelor is head of the Antennas Group at Kent. His current research interests include bodyworn antennas, platform independent RFID tags including transfer tattoo tags for skin, compact multiband antennas, Electromagnetic-Band Gap structures, long-wavelength Frequency-Selective Surfaces and the use of passive wireless sensors for Assistive Technologies.

My Fellowship

My aim is to develop passive Biosensors as candidates for widespread fabrication by additive manufacturing techniques (inkjet and 3D printing). These sensors will be read wirelessly, they will be microscale and directly integrated into surfaces of medical implants, packaging or transfer tattoos. The sensors could be produced in great numbers, or they may be very specific meaning only a few are needed. Therefore, producing them locally by inkjet style additive manufacture is highly desirable.

When these communicating sensors can be made very thin, very cheap and reliable, they can be widely applied and will form an enabling technology of the Internet of Things. Producing passive wireless biosensors is a major challenge and cross several discipline boundaries: Bioscience, materials science, electronic engineering, chemistry, ink formulation and additive manufacture.

Creating a transducer that converts a small probe response to a large enough electrical change to modulate the transmission of the RFID link is key. The proposed sensors will require manufacturing processes to realize structures that are not currently producible, or that require high-end tooling and clean room processes which compounds the barriers to manufacturing passive wireless biosensors. Although there are many potential applications of microsystem wireless sensors integrated into surfaces, the specific applications considered in this fellowship are firstly to detect biofilms on silicone valves in voice prostheses and secondly, to develop efficient epidermal sensing tags for skin based health monitoring.

Motivation to Apply

I was delighted to see this call as it so well addresses the issues that I had already identified as barriers to the production of massively pervasive sensing technologies. As an antenna engineer I have been expanding my horizons with EPSRC, the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) and contract funding over the last 8 years to collaborate with experts in manufacturing and materials disciplines and I have established myself in the emerging area of passive wireless sensors.

This fellowship allows me to spend personal time exploring new subjects and meeting internationally leading material scientists and sensing researchers beyond that possible in a conventional research project.

Career benefits of Fellowship

I anticipate the opportunity to have time to explore discipline crossing ideas with depth and creativity. I will visit and host high profile international researchers to bring benefits not only to myself, but to my group, UK collaborators and the wider academic and industrial communities. In writing the proposal I have linked up with collaborators I ordinarily would not consider working with and I consider the UK effort in advanced manufacturing and RF wireless sensing is becoming more visible as a result.

Advice for future applicants

A fellowship is not an ordinary research application. It is focused around the individual and there is a balance between forwarding research with specialists while also playing a role as an advocate for your area. The outreach and communications aspects of the project are important as well as planned enhancements to personal skills and training.