How do air pollutants born and die?

Atmospheric aerosols cause more deaths than smoking and infectious diseases combined. According to Professor Matti Rissanen, this is why understanding their mechanisms of formation is important.

What are your research topics?

I study rapid chemical reactions occurring in the atmosphere, which have a critical role in both the formation and elimination of air pollutants. My research focuses on the formation of atmospheric particles from gaseous precursors. In spite of decades of research, this area remains frustratingly poorly known.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

Atmospheric particles and other pollutants affect every human being on Earth. These particles have been estimated as the most significant cause of premature death, more significant than smoking and infectious diseases combined. This is why it is particularly important to understand their formation mechanisms down to the molecular level in order to limit their spread.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

I am particularly inspired by the rapid development of instruments and computing methods. This is constantly opening new vantage points to molecular processes – we are learning something new almost every day. In fact, we cannot know in advance what to expect in our day-to-day work. Each day is an opportunity to discover something new and ground-breaking in this field!


Matti Rissanen is the Professor of Physical Chemistry at the Faculty of Science.

Read about the other newly appointed professors.