Centre d’innovació i Tecnologia BARCELONATECH


The Centre for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development (CD6 UPC) has developed a system that can detect a fetal pulse non-invasively, using a low-cost laser. CD6 UPC has patented this technology in conjunction with BCB Electrónica y Control.

The fetal pulse detection system works non-invasively through a low-cost laser. Drawing on photonics, the fetal pulse is detected by analysing the mother’s blood flow with a laser biosensor. As Santiago Royo, the director of CD6, explained: "using this technology, we can determine the blood pressure wave of the mother and the baby, which are connected ". The method gives results faster and reduces the need for other more expensive tests.

According to Santi Royo, "this advance reduces costs and provides new features for devices related to photonics ". In fact, the same technology can be used to detect in just a few seconds whether a person has skin cancer. It provides new information and complements current procedures, cutting time and costs. Other applications can be developed for this system, including continuous monitoring of the fetus and the assessment of its behaviour in the mother’s uterus.

To continue to develop this technology, a researcher from the CD6 team is working on a research project at the Laboratoire de Analyse et d'Architecture des Systèmes (LAAS-CRNS) in France, as part of ACCIÓ’s TECNIOspring program. TECNIOspring is promoted by the Government of Catalonia to support international exchanges of researchers from Catalonia, Europe or other areas of the world to promote technology transfer in Catalonia.

Detection of other types of cancer in the future:

After a year in the French centre, the researcher will return to Catalonia, and in the year after his return will apply the knowledge acquired during the period abroad to increase technology capabilities in the CD6. According to Royo, "as a result, in the future the laser will detect, through blood flow analysis, various types of cancer, cardiovascular illnesses and other biological parameters, and ideally it will even be able to non-invasively measure blood glucose levels".

The CD6 UPC researcher who is participating in the French project is one of 44 scientists from Catalonia, Europe and the rest of the world who have been supported by the Government of Catalonia since 2013 through the TECNIOspring program of ACCIÓ.

Jointly funded by the European Commission as part of Marie Curie Actions, the aim is for professionals who reside in Catalonia to carry out applied research projects abroad for a year, and then apply the knowledge gained abroad during the second year of the project in a TECNIO centre. The project also enables residents of other countries to carry out two-year projects in Catalonia in TECNIO centres, which helps these centres to gain knowledge from other countries. The aim is to promote technology transfer in Catalonia.