Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry
LADDS (Light Activated Drug Delivery Systems)
In the project LADDS, chemical components - gold nanoparticles or Indocyanine Green, ICG - activated with light are studied as a means to deliver drugs in a controlled manner. Components are embedded in liposomes which also contain the drug. When the system is illuminated, components absorb light and warm up, making the liposome wall more fluid and releasing the drug. The target tissue is retina in the posterior part of an eye which is very difficult to treat with drugs. Current therapy means injections to the vitreous humor which requires clinical conditions and an eye specialist.
The surface of a liposome can be decorated with peptides which target the liposome to a desired tissue or a site of therapy. Work is done in collaboration with the Centre of Drug Research at University of Helsinki. Researcher of the project in Aalto is MSc Lauri Viitala.
Redox Flow Battery, RFB
The problem of wind and solar energy production is that it is intermittent, not always meeting the need of electric power. Therefore, storing renewable energy to level consumption peaks and lows becomes very important. Large amounts of electric energy are mainly stored in pumped hydropower. From electrochemical methods a flow battery is practically the only one which is easily scalable to the MWh range. The principle of operation of a redox flow battery is presented in Figure 2, also showing the electrode reactions of the all-copper RFB. The capacity of a RFB can in principle be increased without limits by increasing the volume of the electrolyte tanks.
The vanadium RFB is already commercialized but the limited availability of vanadium prevents its use on the global scale. Hence, the focus of our research is to develop a RFB that is based on copper electrochemistry. The study has been funded by TEKES. Project leader is Pertti Kauranen.
Soft thermoelectrical materials (Heat Harvest)
In this project, our interest relies on non-isothermal processes, in which small temperature differences can be converted into electric current (Seebeck effect), or inversely, a small electric current can be used to adjust temperature (Peltier effect). Conventional thermoelectric materials are semiconductors where electrons (and holes) are carrying the electric current. These materials tend to perform better at high temperatures. We are investigating a new paradigm of soft thermoelectric materials where ions are current carriers and which can be run close to room temperature.
The project researcher is MSc Miikka Jokinen (below); the project is part of the project HeatHarvest coordinated by prof. Maarit Karppinen.
Electrochemistry at the liquid-liquid interface
During the past 30 years, we have studied the electrochemistry of liquid-liquid interfaces, which is quite an original area of research in the field of electrochemistry. Now the research is focused to the metal extraction boosted with Galvani potential difference across the interface.