Aalto University Bioinnovation Center


In the heart of Bioinnovation Center's research is the interdisciplinary doctoral school. Research is conducted in diverse teams consisting of talents from different fields such as chemistry, materials science, design, engineering, artificial intelligence, electronics, and business. Currently we have six research projects ongoing, focusing on sustainable textiles and packaging. Please read more about the research projects below.
Paper packaging prototype, miura origami technique.
Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

Cellugami-project tackles packaging challenges through origami designs 

There is an increasing global need to develop new sustainable alternatives to many existing packaging solutions, for example to replace plastics in packaging. Cellulose-based origami materials can offer a solution to these needs. This project targets at eco-friendly packaging by combining design, engineering, mathematics, and materials science.  The project addresses certain fundamental research directions regarding origami applications such as the features, performance and offerings of other than the most-studied Miura origami tessellations. The related design and engineering methods and material aspects targeting at curved spatial structures enabling versatile and sustainable packaging solutions will be studied. The focus will be especially on structural and visual design.

Project team:

Doctoral Candidate Laureen Mahler (ARTS), Professor Masood Masoodian (ARTS), Professor Jarkko Niiranen (ENG), University Lecturer Kirsi Peltonen (SCI)

Brown lignin coating on a wood sample
Photo: Karl Alexander Henn

Sustainable lignin coatings for textiles and packaging

Lignin particles (CLPs) and certain epoxy compounds have shown to be useful for the preparation of multiresistant surface coatings. This coating has been proven to work on plastic-like films (such as regular plastics but also films of biomaterials) and textiles. On such materials, the coating stays firmly, protects against stains, sunlight, water, and microbial degradation. This project aims at tailoring the CLP surface coating for bio-based packaging and textiles. By improving the properties of the substrates, the coating would enable a broader use of biomaterials and reduce the use of fossil-based, non-degradable materials in packaging, and the hazardous chemicals used in the dying of textiles.

Project team:

Doctoral Candidate Sahar Babaeipour, Professor Monika Österberg (CHEM), Professor of Practice Pekka Oinas (CHEM)

Electronics on paper board packaging sample
Photo: Alp Karakoc

Sustainable intelligent packaging solutions

The packaging industry is a rapidly growing sector with an expected market share of ~$27 billion by 2024. As a promising actor of the sector, sustainable and intelligent packaging of products can provide not only protection against deteriorative ambient effects but also traceability and monitoring data across global supply chains. Therefore, innovative packaging solutions with enhanced functionalities such as condition monitoring and sensing of products, package identification (ID), counterfeit production in the supply chain can accommodate the consumer needs and fulfills the regulatory requirements especially in medicine, biological products and fresh produce. Taking all these considerations into account, this project will merge several disciplines of engineering and materials science to provide sustainable yet intelligent packaging monitoring solutions.

Project team: Doctoral Candidate Madhawa Basnayaka, Professor Jouni Paltakari (CHEM), Professor Riku Jäntti (ELEC)

Weaved band made of Ioncell fibres
Photo: Maija Vaara

AIyarn-project combines sustainable textiles, nanomaterials, and machine learning

Electronic textiles, e-textiles or smart textiles are terms that are interchangeably used for digitally enhanced fabrics. The electronic components in e-textiles augment their aesthetic appeal or enable new functionality, like wearable electronics. Common problems hindering the commercialization of current e-textiles are durability (e.g., brittleness), user discomfort due to integrated bulky electronics, and sustainability. In this project, these challenges are addressed by developing novel biomaterial-based yarns for e-textiles. This will be done by combining nanocellulose and flexuous plant-virus nanoparticles (VNPs) into a fully bio-based assembly line for conductive and piezoelectric yarns. AIyarn will produce novel biomaterial yarns and deliver a first use-case of AI for bioinnovations.

Project team: Doctoral Candidate Matteo Iannacchero (CHEM), Professor Jaana Vapaavuori (CHEM), Professor Patrick Rinke (SCI)

E-textile manufacturing
Photo: Emmi Pouta

Computational fabric

The aim of this project is to develop a computational fabric that integrates sensing and computation directly into the fabric. The fabric is made of novel bio-based functional fibers. This project combines design, materials science, electronics, and artificial intelligence. It leverages machine learning
and AI methods for sensoring of human body and for design of advanced smart biomaterials. This research provides new knowledge on how to design and produce fully integrated smart materials and wearables in the context of sustainability. As electronics become fully integrated into the textile materials, they need to adapt to the dynamic nature of textiles, which poses new challenges for the electronics design. The aim of this project is to tackle these challenges.

Project team: Professor Kirsi Niinimäki (ARTS), Professor Simo Särkkä (ELEC & FCAI), Professor Jaana Vapaavuori (CHEM), Professor Yu Xiao (ELEC)

Water droplets on a textile

CelluMimicry-project develops environmentally friendly water repellent textiles

Most of our outdoor garments rely on synthetic fabrics for water-repelling properties. Moving away from oil-based products, new solutions are needed to gradually replace synthetic fibers. Nature has proven that it is possible to achieve hydrophobicity without synthetic or toxic materials. Can we do it too?
In a collaboration between business, chemistry, and materials science, this project aims to use biomimetic approaches to produce hydrophobic cellulosic textiles. By studying how nature achieves hydrophobicity, this functionality can be introduced with bio-based chemicals. The rising awareness of the environmental impact of the textile industry provides new market opportunities for sustainable innovations. To support our technical development towards commercialization, we will analyze the existing landscape of products that build on biomimicry.

Project team:

Doctoral Candidate Helena Sederholm (CHEM), Professor Michael Hummel (CHEM), Professor Samuli Patala (BIZ), Professor Minna Halme (BIZ)

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