Research in chemistry

Our future cannot be based on continuous and increasing use of non-renewable global resources. Instead, we need to establish a pathway towards a sustainable and circular future. Providing solutions for sustainability through chemistry research and teaching is the core mission of our Department. Our research is focused on three main research themes: Materials, Energy, and Health and environment.

Our materials chemistry research focuses on the green transition and digitalisation.  We develop new methods for synthesizing and processing materials, with an emphasis on thin films, responsive polymers, novel catalysts, green solvents, and material recycling. Target application areas include the microelectronic, solar cell, and biomass industries. 

Research groups:

Chemical crystallography

Our main research field is structural chemistry and single crystal X-ray structure analysis, showing the influence of the structure in both the solid state and solution on the chemical and physical properties, covering a wide range from inorganic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, organic chemistry, to supramolecular chemistry. We also offer crystallographic services for both domestic and international research groups.

Chemistry of the circular economy

Our group investigates conversion technologies for better implementation of circular economy. Our goal is to turn waste into carbon sequestering commodity materials for a carbon-neutral society.

HelsinkiALD

We conduct research in the field of inorganic materials chemistry. The main research topic is Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), but other methods for thin film deposition and nanostructure preparation are also studied.

Nuclear Waste Disposal 

Our research is focused on providing parameters for the safety analysis of final nuclear waste  disposal. We provide a wide range of services from structure characterization to transport modelling.

Polymers and colloids

Our research combines synthetic polymer chemistry, fundamental polymer physics, and colloid chemistry, employing modern polymerization methods and versatile polymer postmodification reactions and state-of-the-art analytical methods. Our goal is to build complex yet defined polymer structures that are responsive to environmental stimuli. We target applications in advanced materials engineering and additive manufacturing, along with biomedical engineering and nanomedicine.

Our researchers study material properties for renewable energy systems, develop novel catalytic concepts, innovate cleaner chemical syntheses, develop knowhow for safe nuclear waste management, and devise new technologies for the selective recovery of energy-critical elements. Our mission is to conduct cutting-edge fundamental and applied research in the energy sector that contributes to a cleaner and more sustainable world.

Research groups:

Catalysis and green chemistry

Our research focuses on the investigation of novel catalytic systems and/-or processes for small-molecule activation (hydrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water) related to major chemical transformations including oxidation, reduction, C-H activation, and C-C coupling reactions. In the development of new catalysts and catalytic methods, the fundamental issues of sustainability, efficiency, and selectivity are addressed.

HelsinkiALD

We conduct research in the field of inorganic materials chemistry. The main research topic is Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), but other methods for thin film deposition and nanostructure preparation are also studied.

Nanomaterials for plasmonics and nanocatalysis

We use catalysis, nanomaterials, and plasmonics to address challenges in sustainability to ensure a safe planet for generations to come.

Radionuclide reaction and fate

Our multidisciplinary research interests in radiochemistry include environmental issues associated with NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) and NORM wastes, nuclear site management (in particular, contaminated land management), nuclear accident response, and environmental radiochemistry. We are also interested in nuclear waste disposal, nuclear decommissioning, nuclear forensics, and the human health impacts of radionuclides.

Reaction kinetics

The Reaction Kinetics group has several research interests, ranging from atmospheric chemistry to combustion chemistry to fundamental chemistry and beyond. We principally conduct experimental research using our custom-made apparatuses; however, we increasingly support our experimental results with quantum chemistry and rate-theory simulations.

Synthesis, catalysis, and mechanistic studies

We conduct research in organic synthesis and catalysis method development and support the experiments by computationally aided mechanistic studies. At present, the main research lines are sustainable chemical production, homogeneous catalysis (Au), organo-photoredox catalysis, and heterogeneous carbocatalysis.

Our research helps to understand the impact of climate change and environmental pollution from the bedrock to the atmosphere and provides sustainable solutions to these global problems. Additionally, we harness cutting edge chemistry to visualize and monitor the human body in health and disease and to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in applications such as biomarker discovery, drug delivery, and radiopharmaceutical chemistry.​

Research groups:

Atmospheric computational chemistry

We study chemical reactions of atmospheric condensable vapours and their precursors using computational methods. Our special research focus is on gas-phase accretion reactions involving complex organic radicals.

Bioanalytical research

In our research, we develop novel instrumental analytical methodologies for solving complex interactions between compounds and bionanoparticles or bioimitating vesicles. The research involves both chromatographic separation techniques and biosensing methodologies.

Biomolecular chemistry

We are an application-oriented group focused on solving challenges at the interface of chemistry, medicine, and biology. Our expertise resides in the synthesis, structural elucidation, and profiling of all biomolecule classes.

Environmental analytical chemistry

Our research in the field of environmental analytical chemistry focuses on the development of selective, efficient, and reliable techniques and methods for sampling, sample pre-treatment, analysis, and the detection of environmental samples.

Laser spectroscopy

The Laser Spectroscopy group develops methods for highly sensitive and selective molecular spectroscopy, along with measurements of particulate air pollution.

Molecular-level atmospheric science

We combine quantum chemistry, aerosol physics, machine learning, and spectroscopy to solve how molecular properties affect the oxidation chemistry and aerosol particle formation in the atmosphere. Our goal is to conduct high-quality research that has impacts in academia and beyond; knowledge of molecule–climate integration directly affects how respectful of nature decision-making is, as the climate effects of emitted molecules can be understood, which guides towards sustainable environmental policy.

Polymers and colloids

Our research combines synthetic polymer chemistry, fundamental polymer physics, and colloid chemistry, employing modern polymerization methods and versatile polymer postmodification reactions and state-of-the-art analytical methods. Our goal is to build complex yet defined polymer structures that are responsive to environmental stimuli. We target applications in advanced materials engineering and additive manufacturing, along with biomedical engineering and nanomedicine.

Radical aerosol physical chemistry

We investigate rapid radical reaction sequences that transform volatile gas-phase chemicals into non-volatile aerosol precursors. An important part of the work concerns developing ambient pressure multi-scheme chemical ionization towards a comprehensive detection methodology.

Radionuclide reaction and fate

Our multidisciplinary research interests in radiochemistry include environmental issues associated with NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) and NORM wastes, nuclear site management (in particular, contaminated land management), nuclear accident response, and environmental radiochemistry. We are also interested in nuclear waste disposal, nuclear decommissioning, nuclear forensics, and the human health impacts of radionuclides.

Reaction kinetics

The Reaction Kinetics group has several research interests, ranging from atmospheric chemistry to combustion chemistry to fundamental chemistry and beyond. We principally conduct experimental research using our custom-made apparatuses; however, we increasingly support our experimental results with quantum chemistry and rate-theory simulations.

Science and chemistry education collaboration

The SECO (Science and Chemistry Education Collaboration) research group seeks relevant pedagogical solutions for meaningful science, chemistry, and teacher education through topics such as sustainability and modern technology.

Synthesis and analysis of natural compounds and their derivatives 

We study natural compounds and their derivatives using synthetic and analytical chemistry methods. The research focuses on natural dyes, nucleoside derivates, and precursor compounds important for kinetic studies of atmospheric reactions.

Trace gas analysis

We develop and apply sensitive gas analysis techniques for the detection of volatile species in various sample matrices, including exhaled breath and microbial headspace. Our expertise spans the range of infrared laser spectroscopy to chemical ionization mass spectrometry.

Tracers in molecular imaging

Our research is focused on the development of new radiotracers for positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and radiotherapy for oncology and neurology.

VERIFIN

VERIFIN consists of a versatile team of scientists that work in the discovery, design, and development of analysis methods and detector testing to support chemical disarmament. We are a designated laboratory of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for environmental and biomedical samples and an expert in biotoxin analysis and chemical forensics.