EEEN40730 Biosensors & Actuators

Academic Year 2024/2025

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to a range of common yet important engineering methods used to measure or control biological variables in healthcare, clinical practice, and research. Revision of core phyics, chemistry, and engineering principles underpinning modern biomedical sensing and actuation will be provided as required. Background to the physiology relating to the variables to be measured and their relevance with respect to management of wellbeing will also be covered. This module builds on EEEN30180 Bioinstrumentation (which has a heavy focus on electrophysiology), to cover the sensing and actuation/control of physical and chemical variables (pressure, flow, displacement, force, concentration).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1. Understanding of physical and chemical principles (and associated algorithms, where appropriate) used to measure important biological variables in medical practice and clinical and biomedical research.
2. Ability to select appropriate methodologies to measure blood pressure and flow, gas flow and volume, and kinematics and dynamics of body components according to required measurement precision and tolerable level of invasiveness and risk of injury.
3. Demonstrate ability to acquire and analyse measurements from a biosensor and describe limitations and sources of error of the measurement.
4. Understanding of the principles of operation and limitations of common actuation systems used in biomedical applications.
5. Learn of exciting applications of actuation technologies under development which aim to improve health and quality of life for millions of people.

Indicative Module Content:

Indicative content covered:
* Blood pressure measurement
* Blood flow measurement
* Respiratory gas flow and volume measurement
* Measurement of kinematics (displacement/rotation) and dynamics (force/torque) of body parts and joint angles
* Temperature, heat, and humidity measurement
* Chemical-based measurement of concentrations
* Actuator principles (DC, servo, stepper, harmonic, linear, pizeo, pneumatic, tissued-engineered)
* Applications of actuators (prosthetics, exoskeletons, heart assistance/replacement)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
* Hybrid approach: The module will use a hybrid approach, with pre-recorded video content supported by in-person tutorials and office hours.
* Online video: Online video content will consist of approximately 90 minutes of short pre-recorded topic-wise content videos to be watched in advance of the associated tutorial session.
* Tutorials: Tutorial sessions will provide a brief revision the online video followed by group-based problem solving and research, in an active learning space on the UCD main campus. A graded online quiz, available only to tutorial attendees, will be delivered in each tutorial session with the goal of motivating early and continuous engagement with the module content.
* Labs: In this inaugural offering of the module, there will be two practical laboratories relating to selected topics from the module. Lab reports will be graded. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Quizzes/Short Exercises: Short in-class quizzes to be performed during in-person classes/tutorials throughout the trimester Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12 Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Exam (Open Book): Mid-trimester in-person in-class test covering topics studied to date Week 6 Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment(Including Essay): Students will be rostered for two labs and graded on associated lab reports, each worth 10% of the final module grade. Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10 Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Exam (Open Book): Final written examination. Open book. End of trimester
2 hr(s)
Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Immediate feedback on student performance will be available after in-class continuous assessment quizzes. Individual feedback will be provided when requested by email or during an in-person meeting. Other general feedback on common mistakes will be made to the entire class using announcement via Brightspace. Throughout the practice design project, students will receive guidance/feedback from staff at scheduled laboratory sessions.

Biomedical Sensors and Instruments, Second Edition 2nd edition by Tagawa, Tatsuo, Tamura, Toshiyo, Oberg, P. Ake (2011)