MSc thesis project proposal

Non-invasive Detection of Bilirubin (Jaundice)

Aim of the project Jaundice is a worldwide problem. In remote African areas, present testing is too expensive and slow, leaving jaundice undetected until very serious health problems occur or it is too late. In the case of neonatal jaundice it may lead to irreversible brain damage (kernicterus). This project aims to address this, by developing low-cost, non-invasive systems which give direct results. Using optical measurements through tissue, changes in absorption can indicate the level of bilirubin, allowing direct low-cost measurements. Our new solution is based on optically transparent microneedles, shown in the figure above. The needles only penetrate the epidermis and can efficiently transport light in and out of the dermis. As in a normal reflection probe, central needles transport light into the dermis while the other microneedles collect the scattered light over the wavelength range of interest. Epidermal microneedles can be short and minimally invasive. The microneedles are placed in a bandage on the tip of an optical probe that can be connected by a optical fiber cable to a spectrometer.


Research on the optical and mechanical design of different geometries of the needles using biocompatible polymers such as SU8. Fabrication of probe tips and their integration with an optical fiber cable. Characterization in the lab and by clinical tests by spectral measurements using commercially available USB micro spectrometers. Building a handheld prototype that can be used by our partners for field tests on patients.


Main challenges of the project are: Interest and knowledge of sensor systems and underlying physics and in microsystem technology and microsystems fabrication (MEMS).

Contact Ger de Graaf

Electronic Instrumentation Group

Department of Microelectronics

Last modified: 2018-03-05