Form looking for life on Mars, to saving lives on Earth

Blood gas measurements are a vital tool in monitoring the health of prematurely born children. About three-quarters of all patients in neonatal intensive care units are monitored in this way to prevent morbidity and mortality, particularly from hyperoxia and hypoxia. However, current methods and technology suffer from major problems in both handling and reliability, which in the end jeopardizes the quality of care for the most vulnerable patients in modern healthcare. These problems include lack of continuous monitoring, heating of the skin that causes burns, slow response times that cannot detect emergencies. The need for development in the field of transcutaneous blood gas monitoring is well acknowledged by stakeholders in both industry and healthcare.

This project will investigate how novel microplasma emission spectrometry can be used to solve all of the above problems and, hence, create a breakthrough in the quality of current neonatal care. The solution builds on miniaturized sensor technology that originally was developed for planetary exploration, more precisely to look for signs of past or percent life on Mars. This sensor has several unique traits that are ideal for so called transcutaneous, i.e., through the skin, blood gas measurements, which is a technique that analyses the minute amount of gas that diffuses from the blood through the skin. The sensor’s miniature embodiment makes it able to study extremely small total sample amounts and, hence, can perform the analysis much faster than the competition. Moreover, the measurement scheme, where the sample is analysed by studying the light it emits after being ionized, offers great sensitivity.


  • VINNOVA 2015-2020
  • ESA BIC Sweden 2018-2020
  • ATTARCT 2018-2019

Time period

2015 – 2022

Project leader

Anders Persson, Microsystems Technology, Uppsala University

Project members

  • Martin Berglund, Fourth State Systems AB
  • Philip Svanfeldt, Fourth State Systems AB
  • Ragnar Seton, Microsystems Technology, Uppsala University
  • Greger Thornell, Microsystems Technology, Uppsala University
Photo of the developed gas collector. Transparent in the form of a club with a spiral pattern. Approximate size 1cm in diameter.
Last modified: 2022-04-01