A broad spectrum of characterisation, modification and growth methods is used for a large variety of materials. Examples of lines of materials research within the programme are:
Experimental materials physics uses ion beams, x-rays and synchrotron light for fundamental and applied research. We use local particle accelerators at Kumpula campus as well as international large scale-facilities such as CERN, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, MAX-IV, JET, and ITER.
Using various kinds of ion beams has a long tradition in basic and applied research in experimental materials physics at the University of Helsinki. We are a member of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in ALD. The efforts are focused on the study of fundamental and applied aspects of nanosystems and nanostructured materials, formed using ion and cluster beams. The key question is how surface and embedded nanostructures can be formed and modified at will to acquire the desired properties and functionality. The research based on energetic ion beams is linked to the physical processes taking place in solid matter during and after irradiation. We also have profound experience in materials characterization using ion beams.
Modern synchrotron light sources have revolutionized x-ray based materials research and we use these international large-scale facilities actively. We use all aspects of light-matter interactions for fundamental and applied research on materials. Most commonly we use x-ray imaging, inelastic x-ray scattering spectroscopy, x-ray scattering, as well as absorption and emission spectroscopies for studying materials physics and chemistry. Our local microtomography laboratory is used for three-dimensional non-destructive imaging of materials with sub-micrometer spatial resolution and is used for studies on biological samples as well as soft and hard condensed matter. We use European Synchrotron Radiation Facility for advanced studies on the nanoscale and for inelastic x-ray scattering spectroscopy for studies of materials microscopic structure.
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In order to understand experimental results modeling of the studied phenomena is needed. Computational methods are used widely in the field of materials physics. The group of computational physics has in its use methods covering many time and length scales, starting from quantum mechanical calculations at atomic level and picosecond time scales and up to continuum modeling of materials and macroscopic times scales.
Initially, modeling was used in connection with ion beam physics experiments that are far from the thermodynamical equilibrium. Currently, modeling is also used in many equilibrium phenomena. The group has in its disposal computer clusters located at the Kumpula campus area and the supercomputers at the Finnish IT center for science, CSC.
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Researchers of medical physics is engaged in academic research, teaching and clinical physics support services. Medical physics is a branch of applied physics encompassing concepts, principles and methodology of physical sciences to medicine in clinics. Primarily, medical physics seeks to develop efficient and safe diagnosis and treatment methods for human diseases with highest quality assurance protocols. In Finland most medical physicists have the licensed profession of a hospital physicist.
Department of Physics has started an education program for Hospital Physicists in 1995. The program was updated in spring 2010. Hospital Physicist is a necessary expert in medical usage of radiation as required in the statute of the medical usage of radiation (423/2000). The specialist training of Hospital Physicist is defined in the statute of the University degree system (464/1998) and the modification for the statute of the examinations pertaining to the humanities and the natural sciences (834/2000).
The Biological Physics and Soft Matter Group group focuses on the theory and simulations of biologically relevant soft matter systems. The work includes the development of theoretical and computational techniques for multiscale modeling, and applications of these methods to study a variety of biomolecular systems over a multitude of scales. Examples of research topics include biomembranes, membrane proteins, sugars, and DNA, and the interactions of these molecular complexes with drugs and other signaling molecules. The grand objective is to use theory and computer simulations for gaining new knowledge that promotes health. The research is strongly coupled to experimental collaborations. The group is a member of the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Biomembrane Research.
The computational biochemistry and biophysics group studies the molecular mechanism of proteins involved in biological energy conversion and mitochondrial function/dysfunction (respiratory complexes I-V). Multi-scale computational approaches such as atomistic and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, density functional theory calculations and hybrid quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical simulations are performed to understand enzyme mechanism in great depth. For this purpose, high performance supercomputing infrastructure (CSC, Finland and PRACE) are utilized together with extensive collaborations with experimental groups in Finland and abroad.
Life is impossible without polymers and polymers are an essential part of our modern society. They perform critical functions in food technology and safety, transportation, information technology, clothing, sports and leisure activities, and other daily necessities such as cosmetics and hygiene products. Also, modern medicine is essentially unthinkable without polymers. The study track Polymer Materials Chemistry combines synthetic polymer chemistry, fundamental polymer physics, and colloid chemistry, functional materials, wood chemistry, polymers in medicine and more. You will master modern synthetic techniques and learn to construct materials with new functionalities. You will understand complex self-assembly processes of amphiphilic aqueous polymers, as well as their response to temperature, light, magnetic field, pH, and ionic strength. In addition, you will learn about the use of inorganic/organic/bio hybrid nanomaterials. In addition, you will learn to master basic and advanced methods of polymer characterization, including spectroscopic, scattering, rheological, and calorimetric techniques.
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Inorganic materials chemistry research centers on the development of a wealth of inorganic nanomaterials. These include various nanoparticle systems, thin films, fibers, and porous materials. For example, activities include the use of chemical, solution-phase strategies for the synthesis of inorganic nanomaterials having well-defined and controlled physicochemical features such as size, shape, structure, and composition. As the properties of a nanostructure are related to these parameters, their control offers a unique opportunity to maximize and optimize performance and move towards the development of nanomaterials by design. These inorganic nanomaterials have been applied in catalysis (nanocatalysis, plasmonic catalysis, photocatalysis, and electrocatalysis) and SERS (Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering) sensing. Research in thin films has been focused on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) as the most widely studied deposition method. ALD research is a balanced combination of basic and applied topics and covers all areas related to ALD: precursor synthesis and characterization, film growth and characterization, reaction mechanism studies, and the first steps of taking the processes toward applications. Other thin film deposition techniques studied include electrodeposition, SILAR (successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction), electron beam evaporation, thermal evaporation, and sol-gel. Other materials (fibers and porous materials) are prepared directly by electrospinning, electroblowing, and anodization techniques or by combining these or other templates with the thin film deposition techniques.
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The Electronics Research Laboratory specializes in electronic and computerized measurement methods. The main emphasis is to develop methods suitable for the needs of the industry. To support these goals, our research work concentrates on several applied physics disciplines, the main areas being (laser)ultrasonics, photoacoustics, fibre optics and scanning white light interferometry.