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EEE8116 : Bioelectronics

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Patrick Degenaar
  • Owning School: Engineering
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To develop a deep understanding of the principles of bioelectronics and their increasing importance to modern medical electronics. The course will cover four main domains:
(i)       Cellular Bioelectronics: which covers the principles of the electrochemical operation of cells, how they work and how they communicate with each other.
(ii)       Bioelectronic devices: which covers how biological tissue can be artificially probed, and what kinds of devices can be developed to sense or stimulate biological activity.
(iii)       Bioelectronic circuits: which can be developed to drive or sense devices to which comprise modern and future biomedical interfaces
(iv)       Bioelectronic medical systems: what is their architecture? What kinds of interventions can be made? Key examples in visual prosthesis for the blind and seizure suppression in epilepsy. Finally, the regulatory and ethical constraints to developing medical devices.

Each component will comprise 25% of the course and will have associated practical activities, including bioelectronic circuit design, biosignal acquisition and a problem-based learning exercise centred on developing a concept novel medical system.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course comprises of 4 main sections:

(i)       Charge flows in Electrochemical Systems and active transport of charge across cell membranes
(ii)       The Neuron Action potential and the Hodgkin Huxeley Theorem
(iii)       Molecular communication between cells and interneuron transmission
(iv)       Cellular “vision” and optogenetics
(v)       Neural coding

(I)       Fundamentals of bio-signal sensing, including noise and linearity
(II)       Electrical neural stimulus and electrode biocompatibility
(III)       Photo-cellular stimulation and fluorescent imaging
(IV)       Device-tissue and tissue-device biocompatibility
(V)       Transistors and operational amplifiers

(I)       Buffers, filtering and ADCs
(II)       Electrical, optoelectronic stimulation circuits and recording amplifiers
(III)       Micro-control systems and Electronic implant control methods
(IV)       Implant power supplies and power management
(V)       Implantable communications

(I)       The human nervous system and clinical neuroprosthetics
(II)       Exemplar neuroprosthetics: Epilepsy and prosthetics to negate seizures
(III)       Exemplar neuroprosthetics: Blindness and visual prosthetics
(IV)       Medical ethics and Medical Device Regulations

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00Live PIP Lectures: 1x 2 hour course introduction 1x course review 3x2hr inspirational live lectur
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion118:3018:30Preparation for the exam.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials150:4010:00Lecture note taking: Students review the video narrations and lecture notes to create their own com
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials420:2014:00Video documentary lectures: In the form of ~20 min videos provided in an asynchronous basis.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical52:3012:3012:30 Laboratory activities: 3x circuit design simulation sessions in computer cluster 2x physical
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading53:0015:00Preparation for PBL Reading literature and prepari
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching42:008:00Small Group Tutorials: To go through course material in detail in the form of exam questions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00PBL Group presentation exercise At the end of the module.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Problem based learning exercise to provide group work experience on a specific bioelectronic proble
Guided Independent StudyProject work53:0015:00Lab-book writeup Assessed activity where students writeup their lab activity
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity151:0015:00Daily homework’s (Formative assessment) to help connect students with daily reflection of the vide
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity31:003:00Student peer review: Of homework’s for relative reflection compared to each others work.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00Open office period: To allow students to come and ask any questions they may have
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study166:3066:30General self study and self reading to review the module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The students on this course may come from a varied background. Some may have studied electronics before; others may have studied physical, chemical or biological sciences. As such, the course has been designed in a form that does not assume pre-requisites. At the same time, the course aims to continues to engage students who may have studied aspects of the course sub-components in the past. It, therefore, begins with cellular bioelectronics, which should be new for all students, and thereafter maintains a very strong interdisciplinary approach to devices, circuits and systems.

Post-covid teaching rationale:
Prior to COVID the course comprised of 40 hours of lectures, and 25 hours of tutorials, open office and problem based learning. The conversion of lectures into documentary-style short videos means that this traditional format can be re-evaluated. The format has thus been “flipped”. There are now 21 hours of lectures (live and recorded), together with 40 hours of activities: Tutorials 12 hours, Open Office: 4 hours, Labs: 15 hours, Problem Based Learning: 9 hours.

Will now be provided with 2 forms:
(i)       42x Documentary-video lectures in the form of 15-20 minute short videos which animations and video to explain specific aspect of the notes.
(ii)       4x live interactive lectures, which do NOT cover the notes, but give a broad explanation of the course, and provide inspirational context as to the importance of the bioelectronics domain
Homework and Tutorials:
Students will be expected to watch the short video lectures over 15 days as the course is in block format. As such to ensure proper pacing, students will receive a short homework with questions covering the daily lectures. These should take 20-60 minutes to complete, depending on the student. At the end of each week, students will be provided with the answers. There will be a peer-review process to help students understand the marking criteria.
4x tutorials will be provided as before to cover each aspect of the course. These will be provided in a small group format with students split up into small groups of 3 or 4 students so that they can work as a team. The tutorial questions will be provided in the exam format, so that students can understand from an early point what the exam questions will look like. Students will be provided with exemplar answers post-tutorial.

Lab work:
Students will have 5x lab sessions during the course:
(i)       3x Circuit design labs using LTSpice software
(ii)       2x biosignal labs to record ECG and other human biosignals
Students will be expected to maintain a lab book with results for each lab. Both lab types will be provided live – either in a computer/CAD lab or an electronics lab. This will allow them to ask questions and have support for their activities. They will be assessed at the end of their course on their lab book.

Problem based learning:
Students' diverse background on this module is an excellent opportunity to provide experience in working as an interdisciplinary team. As such, students will be split into small teams of 3,4 to explore how to create a novel bioelectronic solution to a specific medical problem. The outcome will be the presentation of a group poster. This means students will learn how to present in a pitch + Q&A format, which is very different to the traditional PowerPoint.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50Closed-Book Exam (if covid restrictions are lifted) Open-book Exam (If done at home)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination2M20PBL Oral presentation: Oral presentation (in the form of a poster) describing the student’s exploration into a bioelectronic soluti
Practical/lab report2M30Lab Report: There will be a 15 page lab report to cover the 5x lab exercise activities. The report is to include results, theory an
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The cohort who study the Bioelectronics module are primarily from the MSc Biomedical Engineering. These have a very varied background – some have studied electronics, some chemistry and some biology. As such, it is important to ensure there are exercises that give this broad spectrum of students an intuitive understanding of the course material. Additionally, I want to encourage group exercises so that students get a sense of what it is like to work in an interdisciplinary team.

Specific assessment rational:

Lab exercises (summative):
A key aspect of the flip teaching approach is to move from passive lectures to active lab based learning. There will thus be 5x lab exercises provided: 3x circuit simulations, 2x biosignal acquisition (ECG, EEG measurement) exercises. For each exercise students will be expected to keep a digital lab book. At the end of the period, students will need to write a 15 page lab report covering the lab activities.

PBL Assessments (summative):
The key rationale for problem based learning is to encourage group work and to explore problem solving in the bioelectronics domain. Students will be asked to create a poster as part of a team and present it in the form of an investment pitch presentation. i.e. where each team member describes a different aspect of the poster.

Homework exercises (formative):
Block teaching will be more effective if there is a regular focus for reflection. As such, there will be short (3 question) homework exercises associated with each homework day. These will be formative rather than summative, but there will be a peer review process at the end of each week which will hopefully ensure students engage.

Reading Lists