Department of Applied Physics

Molecular Materials (Molmat)

Molecular Materials (Molmat) is a multidisciplinary research group consisting of physicists, chemists and biologists aiming at functional materials based on supramolecular and supracolloidal self-assembly and its hierarchies.

We use polymers, conjugated polymers, polypeptides, liquid crystals, nanocellulose, metal nanoparticles, dendrimers, virus particles, carbon nanotubes and other carbon-based materials as structural and functional units in supramolecular assemblies.  Recently, we have been engaged in bio-mimetic self-assembly with a special emphasis on nacre and silk mimetics.


The Molmat group is a part of the HYBER Centre, which was launched as the Academy of Finland´s Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials research (2014-2019), and is led by Professor Ikkala. HYBER aims to use biological concepts for next generation materials science.

Nanomicroscopy Centre (NMC)

Molmat is also a part of the Nanomicroscopy Center administered by Professor Janne Ruokolainen. NMC is a cutting-edge microscopy facility offering us a number of high-resolution imaging and fabrication tools for soft, hard and biomaterial characterization.

Professor Olli Ikkala - Photo by Lasse Lecklin

Group leader

Professor Olli Ikkala 

I head the Molecular Materials laboratory at the Department of Applied Physics of Aalto University in Greater Helsinki and the Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials Research (HYBER) of the Academy of Finland. My research interest is to develop functional materials based on hierarchical self-assemblies, biomimetics, and materials originating from nature, such as nanocellulose. The laboratory is multidisciplinary, combining physics, chemistry, and materials science. I have published nearly 300 articles, including several articles in the Science and Nature family, as well as ca 20 patents, and have been cited nearly 15,000 times (H-index 66). I have twice been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant and twice an Academy Professorship of the Academy of Finland. I am an elected member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and the Technology Academy of Finland.

Molecular Materials Facilities

The Molecular Materials research group is located in Nanotalo. The building also houses the Nanomicroscopy Center (NMC).

All equipment is available for external users. Contact details of the responsible persons are listed below (Note: Each facility has a different contact person).


We collaborate extensively, both internationally and nationally. Our collaborators include:


  • Kemira
  • Nokia
  • UPM-Kymmene

International research institutes and universities

  • CEA/CNRS/Cermav, Grenoble, France (Patrice Rannou, Redouane Borsali and Vincent Forge)
  • Politecnico di Milano, Italy ( Pierangelo Metrangolo)
  • University of Duisburg-Essen. Germany (Andre Gröschel)
  • University of Bayreuth (A. Müller et al.)
  • University of Bristol (C. Faul et al.), Max Planck Institute, Golm (H. Schlaad, H. Börner et al.)
  • University of Athens (N. Hadjichristidis et al.)
  • KTH (L. Berglund, T. Lindström)
  • University of Cambridge (U. Steiner et al.)
  • University of Fribourg (R. Mezzenga et al.)
  • University of Groningen (G. ten Brinke et al.)
  • University of Santa Barbara (E. Kramer, G. Fredrickson et al.)
  • University of York (D. Smith et al.)
  • University of Pennsylvania (V. Percec et al.)
  • KAUST (N. Hadjichristidis et al.)
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (H. Iatrou et al.)
  • University of Montreal (X.X. Zhu et al.)

National research institutes and universities

  • Tampere University of Technology (A. Priimägi)
  • University of Helsinki (M. Leskelä and M. Ritala et al., R. Serimaa et al., H. Tenhu et al., A. Urtti et al.)
  • VTT Biotechnology (M.Penttilä)
  • VTT Printable Electronics and Optics (H. Sandberg et al.)
  • Åbo Academy University (R. Österbacka et al.)
  • University of Helsinki (J. Hirvonen and L. Bimbo et al.)
  • University of Jyväskylä (H. Häkkinen et al., M. Lahtinen et al.)
  • Biomedicum, University of Helsinki (J. Klefström et al.).

Research groups within our university

Biotechnology and Chemical Technology (M. Linder, M. Kostiainen, J. Seppälä et al.)

Forest Products Chemistry (O. Rojas, J. Laine, E. Kontturi, M. Österberg)

Chemistry (M. Karppinen, K. Kontturi, C. Johans et al. )

Applied Physics (E. Kauppinen, P. Törmä)

Latest news

Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

School of Science researchers now involved in five Centres of Excellence

SCI researchers are partners in three new Centres of Excellence: Life-Inspired Hybrid Materials, Randomness and structures, and Virtual laboratory for molecular level atmospheric transformations.
The professors
Research & Art Published:

Ten new Academy projects awarded to the School of Science

The projects will investigate questions from nuclear fusion, solar energy, bio inspired materials, and many more
Polymer film that bends when light is shone on it
Research & Art Published:

Liquid crystal polymer learns to move and grab objects

Researchers trained material the same way as Pavlov trained dogs.
Olli Ikkala
Aalto Magazine, Research & Art Published:

Learning from nature

In his lab, Academy Professor Olli Ikkala is catching up with evolution’s lead in the manufacture of materials. The results of his work may be of crucial significance to an energy-scarce society.

Latest publications

In Vivo Toxicological Analysis of the ZnFe2O4@poly(tBGE-alt-PA) Nanocomposite : A Study on Fruit Fly

Shaily Chauhan, Seekha Naik, Rohit Kumar, Janne Ruokolainen, Kavindra Kumar Kesari, Monalisa Mishra, Piyush Kumar Gupta 2024 ACS Omega

Hydrolyzed polyacrylonitrile nanofibers as interlayers for ultrathin nanofiltration membranes of high permeance and salt rejection

Chenyang Dai, Tengfei Pei, Ning Liu, Zhen Lin, Qiugen Zhang 2024 Journal of Membrane Science

Light-Fueled Nonreciprocal Self-Oscillators for Fluidic Transportation and Coupling

Zixuan Deng, Hang Zhang, Arri Priimagi, Hao Zeng 2024 Advanced Materials

Toughening Hydrogels with Fibrillar Connected Double Networks

Yu Huang Fang, Chen Liang, Ville Liljeström, Zhong Peng Lv, Olli Ikkala, Hang Zhang 2024 Advanced Materials

Emerging Trends in Zinc Ferrite Nanoparticles for Biomedical and Environmental Applications

Jivesh Garg, Mei Nee Chiu, Saravanan Krishnan, Rohit Kumar, Mahwish Rifah, Priyanca Ahlawat, Niraj Kumar Jha, Kavindra Kumar Kesari, Janne Ruokolainen, Piyush Kumar Gupta 2024 Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

The European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence (EPNOE) research roadmap 2040 : Advanced strategies for exploiting the vast potential of polysaccharides as renewable bioresources

Martin Gericke, Adérito J.R. Amaral, Tatiana Budtova, Pieter De Wever, Thomas Groth, Thomas Heinze, Herman Höfte, Anton Huber, Olli Ikkala, Janusz Kapuśniak, Rupert Kargl, João F. Mano, Már Másson, Pietro Matricardi, Bruno Medronho, Magnus Norgren, Tiina Nypelö, Laura Nyström, Anna Roig, Michael Sauer, Henk A. Schols, John van der Linden, Tanja M. Wrodnigg, Chunlin Xu, Gleb E. Yakubov, Karin Stana Kleinschek, Pedro Fardim 2024 Carbohydrate Polymers

Propulsion of zwitterionic surfactant-stabilized water-in-oil droplets by low electric fields

Lotta Gustavsson, Bo Peng, Rémi Plamont, Olli Ikkala 2024 Chemical Communications

Materials Inspired by Living Functions

Mauri A. Kostiainen, Arri Priimagi, Jaakko V.I. Timonen, Robin H.A. Ras, Maria Sammalkorpi, Merja Penttilä, Olli Ikkala, Markus B. Linder 2024 Advanced Functional Materials

Trainable bioinspired magnetic sensitivity adaptation using ferromagnetic colloidal assemblies

Xianhu Liu, Hongwei Tan, Emil Stråka, Xichen Hu, Min Chen, Sebastiaan van Dijken, Alberto Scacchi, Maria Sammalkorpi, Olli Ikkala, Bo Peng 2024 Cell Reports Physical Science
More information on our research in the Aalto research portal.
Research portal



Prof. Olli Ikkala
Coordinator Jacquelin De Faveri

Postal address:

Department of Applied Physics
Aalto University School of Science
P.O. Box 15100, 00076 Aalto, Finland

Visiting address:

Nano Building,
Puumiehenkuja 2 A
02150 Espoo

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