Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Biobased Colloids and Materials (BiCMat)

BiCMat group led by Prof. Orlando Rojas works toward supporting global sustainable development through research on the fundamental and utilization aspects of renewable resources, including lignocellulose, proteins and other biopolymers. Our research aims to discover competitive alternatives for fossil materials.
CHEM_Bio_Bicmat

The BiCMat group is based in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems and we are an active member of the broader Materials and sustainable use of natural resources key research area at Aalto University. Our research group consists of scholars at various stages of their careers, from MSc. students to Post-doc researchers. In addition, we continually host visiting scholars from other academic/research institutions around the world.

BiCMat Activity Summary 2019
BiCMat Activity Summary 2018

Our research focus:

Our research focus is on finding competitive alternatives to fossil materials through research into bio-based materials at different size scales, mainly those displaying large interfacial areas such as fibers (micro/nano fibers), fiber networks, particles and colloidal systems. We are interested in:

Ligno-nanocellulose and bacterial cellulose:

We utilize novel cellulosic materials from various sources to develop high value-added applications.

Multiphase systems:

We study the fundamental and utilization aspects of multiphase systems, such as dispersions, emulsions, foams, membranes and gels.

Multiphase systems have a large variety of functionalities in the application of textile products, light-weight materials, water treatment, encapsulations, etc. Current environmental concerns have prompted an increasing demand for bio-material-based multiphase systems, such as foams, emulsions, aerogels. Our research interests involves revolving the colloidal-related mechanisms in fiber-based foams for papermaking. Also, we explore the roles and capabilities of (ligno-)cellulosic materials (e.g. (lingo-)cellulosic fibers, (lingo-)nano-cellulose, etc.) in a multiphase system.

Films, filaments and hybrid materials:

We employ the versatility of lignonanocellulose and cellulose derivatives in novel film, paper and filament structures in combination with other nano- and functional materials.

Bionanomaterials are often thought to be difficult to process and limited in functionality. To enable feasible processing, we work on paper, film and filament structures which can conveniently fit into existing industrial processes. Furthermore, we see papers, films and filaments as useful model structures for demonstrating novel functionalizations.

Even though biomaterials can natively have a limited functionality, they typically have a promising chemical versatility. We employ this versatility for new purposes, such as water-resistant, thermoformable, electrically conductive, luminescent or antibacterial cellulose. With this work, we target applications that will be important for tomorrow’s society, such as composite materials, packaging, energy harvesting and rapid diagnostics.

Lignin:

We search for new, more valuable application areas for lignin, for example nanoparticles or coatings.

Lignin is the second most abundant natural raw material and nature’s most abundant aromatic polymer, which can be found in plants. Lignin is generally obtained from black liquor as a waste from pulp industry in large quantities. Although much of the lignin produced by pulp industry is currently consumed as a fuel, there are other, higher value added applications, such as carbon material precursor, emulsifier, coating, filler or substitute for metal/inorganic nanoparticles. We study these new areas for lignin utilization, envisioning lignin’s transition from waste into a valuable raw material.

Proteins:

We research the interactions between proteins and polysaccharides and thus develop materials combining these components.

Proteins, natural and renewable biomolecules, perform a vast number of functions that show great potential in various challenging applications. We study the functional properties of proteins in molecular and surface interactions, crosslinking, foaming, adsorption and separation processes. Specific areas of interest include the interactions between proteins and polysaccharides and materials combining these components. Through this work, we are aiming to improve the formability of cellulose-based materials, create antibiofouling surfaces and other functional biointerfaces relevant to the medical, biotechnological and food fields.

Bioactive cellulose:

We capitalize on the biocompatibility of cellulose in medical applications through modifications with antibodies, enzymes and other bioactive molecules.

We have introduced conjugation of short peptides to nanocelluloses for low cost and disposable sensors as well as supports for detection or separation of bioactive molecules. We aim at developing sustainable bioactive materials that can be safely disposed or regenerated. Specific topics that have been developed in our group include

  • immunoglobulin G binding and detection
  • heparin, Avidin-Biotin and other complexes
  • affibodies and C-reactive proteins
  • role of ligand spacer on passivation, binding, kinetics, and mass transfer
  • rapid immunoassays and diagnostics
3d rendering of bioactive (nano)cellulose.

We work closely with:

FinnCERES

FinnCERES, competence center for materials bioeconomy, is a Flagship for our sustainable future.

FinnCERES Materials Cluster

The LIBER Centre of Excellence

LIBER aims to create dynamic and soft hybrid materials with a capability to learn, adapt or response to the environment. LIBER combines eight research groups with expertise on molecular self-assembly, soft robotics, surfaces and interfaces, genetic engineering of proteins, biotechnological production of engineered biomolecules, and computational modelling.

LIBER community

Aalto Networking Platform

The Aalto Networking Platform brings together research expertise across departments, supporting collaboration both inside and outside of Aalto.

Networking at Aalto
A photo demostrating the use of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) for structural color on a piece of fabric.

Honors and awards

ERC Advanced Grant recipient

2018 Anselme Payen Award, the highest recognition in the area of cellulose and renewable materials

BiCMat is a part of Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials (HYBER, 2014-2019)

In 2015, Orlando Rojas received TAPPI Nanotechnology Division Technical Award and IMERYS Prize

Prof. Orlando Rojas

Through our research we find competitive uses of renewable biological resources.

Prof. Orlando Rojas, head of the research group

BiCMat members

Here you will find the individuals who are part of the Biobased Colloids and Materials (BiCMat) research group.

Read more
A quirky group photo of BiCMat members taken by Dragon Flower Photo Studio

Related content:

Research group related news:

Academic co-operation on the boreal forest belt launched to accelerate innovation and adoption of bio-based solutions

University of British Columbia (UBC), Aalto University and VTT are joining their strong expertise on bio-based materials by launching the Boreal Alliance. The collaboration is realized via the Finnish FinnCERES Flagship and the BioProducts Institute at UBC.

Boreal forest belt

Scientists use bacteria as micro-3D printers

Technique creates highly customised structures that could be used in regenerative medicine

With the right guidance, certain bacteria can produce 3D objects made of nanocellulose

Parallel paths: Designer and materials scientist conjure up glimmering colours out of wood

Designer Noora Yau and materials scientist Konrad Klockars have used wood to conjure up a colour, which is transparent yet glows like a copepod in shallow water. The pair’s good chemistry and open attitude towards asking silly questions is a great help in their work.

Tohtorikoulutettavat Noora Yau ja Konrad Klockars seisovat vierekkäin valkoista taustaa vasten. Heidän välissään on pystysuora puinen levy, joka on pohjaväriltään musta, mutta pinnassa on kirkkaita sinisiä ja keltaisia kuvioita. Kuva: Jaakko Kahilaniemi.

Precision solutions for healthcare

Biodesign Finland projects utilise biomaterials to repair tissue damage and support the recuperation of mental health patients with environmental design. Identifying needs correctly forms the point of departure for all this.

Biodesign, kuva: Kalle Kataila

Hollywood costume design goes sustainable

A textile artist sees natural materials as the future for costumes in television and film.

Urs Dieker working with wood, kuva Eren Öztekin

Material manufacturing from particles takes a giant step forward

Tiny fibrils extracted from plants have been getting a lot of attention for their strength.

nanoselluloosaverkko

Crab-shell and seaweed compounds spin into yarns for sustainable and functional materials

Biobased fibres are made from two renewable marine resources and with promise in advanced applications, in wovens and medical materials, among others. The threads draw strength from the crab chitin component and flexibility from seaweed alginate.

Ravunkuorista ja merilevästä tehtyä lankaa

Developing individualised biomaterials for medical treatment

New types of biological mesh can also be used in treating gynaecological prolapses, hernias and urinary incontinence.

Prolapse mesh.

The combination of plant-based particles and water forms an 'eco' super-glue

In a collaboration between Aalto and other research institutions, a new, ecological adhesive has been developed that rivals superglue in strength

a microscopic view of the bonding process when water is mixed with select plant-based particles

Wood-based yarn captures hormones from wastewater

Hormones and other pharmaceuticals ending up in bodies from natural waters are a globally significant environmental problem.

Puupohjainen lanka

Five ways biomaterials could improve your health

Wood is a source of many healthy agents

Kuvituskuva biomateriaaleista

New biomaterials and their market potential are at the centre of interest in the United States

How can bio-based materials be adopted as an alternative to synthetic plastics on an industrial scale? Is it possible for environmentally friendly textile production to be profitable?

New York_June 2019

The next material revolution will start in the forest

Plastic straws and utensils will soon be history but they will not be missed, as something much better will replace them.

A green leaf. Photographer: Aleksi Poutanen.

Aalto University and VTT launch a major innovation ecosystem aimed at doubling the value of forest industry

Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland signed a collaboration agreement on the CERES flagship programme.

Aalto University President Ilkka Niemelä (left) is hoping CERES to bring solutions especially to microplastic problems. VTT President and CEO Antti Vasara is excited about biodegradable electronics.

ERC Advanced Grants for Peter Liljeroth and Orlando Rojas

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded their €2.5-million-each Advanced Grants to Aalto University professors Peter Liljeroth and Orlando Rojas.

Peter Liljeroth (l.) and Orlando Rojas (r.) will explore and fabricate completely new materials with their ERC Advanced Grants.

Anselme Payen Award to Orlando Rojas

Awarded in 2018, Rojas received the medal and honorarium at the American Physical Society's Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division 2019 Spring meeting in Florida

Orlando Rojas and the Biobased Colloids and Materials research group celebrate his 2018 Anselme Payen award for contributions to celluose research.

A simple method developed for 3D bio-fabrication based on bacterial cellulose

Bacterial cellulose can be used in food, cosmetics and biomedical applications, such as implants and artificial organs.

Professor Orlando Rojas to receive the prestigious Anselme Payen Award

The award is one of the most important and internationally recognized awards in the field of cellulose and renewable materials.

Professor Rojas (second row, far left) with his research group. Photo: Valeriya Azovskaya

Professor Orlando Rojas received 2015 Nanotechnology Division Technical Award and IMERYS Prize

TAPPI announced 2015 Nanotechnology Division Technical Award Winner

Research group related events:

FinnCERES Public seminar: Fibre and Beyond

Join us to explore some of the latest discoveries, innovations and applications in the world of bio-based materials. Our experts as well as guest speakers from Boreal Alliance will present exciting news from the field of wood-based bioeconomy.

Fibre and Beyond

FinnCERES: Will the Bio-Bubble Burst?

Will new EU guidelines and directives on microplastics and single-use plastics threaten the future of new bio-based materials? What is the general atmosphere in EU countries on the use of forest biomass? Join the FinnCERES event to learn more!

Illustration of hand holding a pin on a bubble labeled bio

Capturing microplastics and pharmaceuticals from waste water

Hormones and other pharmaceuticals ending up in bodies from natural waters are a globally significant environmental problem.

Nanocellulose yarn that captures hormones from waste water. Photo: FINNCERES

Shimmering Wood by Structural Colour Studio

Nature’s brightest colours – like those found in peacock feathers or butterfly wings – are created through microscopically small nanostructures.

Wood-based structural shimmering wood colour has no colour pigments. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

Solar energy through ChemisTree

Is it possible to use trees in electricity production? Surprisingly, yes, it is! Transparent cellulose films enable greater efficiency of solar cells through their haze effect.

Solar Energy Through ChemisTree Photo: Glen Forde

Naturally Dramatic

Sustainable costume design is still in its early days. Despite efforts to move to 'greener' processes, stage and film productions still make costumes in traditional ways with little regard for their impact on the environment or employees.

Colourful costume made with sustainable, natural materials by Urs Dierker
BiCMat Publications

Latest publications:

Innovations in hydrogel-based manufacturing: A comprehensive review of direct ink writing technique for biomedical applications

Hossein Baniasadi, Roozbeh Abidnejad, Mahyar Fazeli, Juha Lipponen, Jukka Niskanen, Eero Kontturi, Jukka Seppälä, Orlando J. Rojas 2024 Advances in Colloid and Interface Science

Chitin-based pulps: Structure-property relationships and environmental sustainability

Luiz G. Greca, Ainara Azpiazu, Guillermo Reyes, Orlando J. Rojas, Blaise L. Tardy, Erlantz Lizundia 2024 Carbohydrate Polymers

Hollow Filaments from Coaxial Dry-Jet Wet Spinning of a Cellulose Solution in an Ionic Liquid: Wet-Strength and Water Interactions

Shiying Zhang, Guillermo Reyes, Alexey Khakalo, Orlando J. Rojas 2024 Biomacromolecules

Potential of Wood Hemicelluloses and Their Derivates as Food Ingredients

Felix Abik, Chonnipa Palasingh, Mamata Bhattarai, Shaun Leivers, Anna Ström, Bjørge Westereng, Kirsi S. Mikkonen, Tiina Nypelö 2023 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Lignin nanoparticles as co-stabilizers and modifiers of nanocellulose-based Pickering emulsions and foams

Melissa B. Agustin, Neda Nematollahi, Mamata Bhattarai, Erfan Oliaei, Mari Lehtonen, Orlando Rojas Gaona, Kirsi S. Mikkonen 2023 Cellulose

Electrospun nanofibers of chitosan/polyvinyl alcohol/UiO-66/nanodiamond: Versatile adsorbents for wastewater remediation and organic dye removal

Farhad Ahmadijokani, Hossein Molavi, Addie Bahi, Stefan Wuttke, Milad Kamkar, Orlando J. Rojas, Frank Ko, Mohammad Arjmand 2023 Chemical Engineering Journal

Waste organic dye removal using MOF-based electrospun nanofibers of high amine density

Farhad Ahmadijokani, Hossein Molavi, Majed Amini, Addie Bahi, Stefan Wuttke, Tejraj M. Aminabhavi, Milad Kamkar, Orlando J. Rojas, Frank Ko, Mohammad Arjmand 2023 Chemical Engineering Journal

Monolithic nanocellulose films patterned with flower-shaped and other microstructures: A facile route to modulate topographical, wetting and optical properties

Gabriel Banvillet, Samantha Pritchard, Joice J. Kaschuk, Xuetong Shi, Monireh Imani, Yi Lu, Ayako Takagi, Milad Kamkar, Orlando J. Rojas 2023 Materials Today Nano

Endoglucanase effects on energy consumption in the mechanical fibrillation of cellulose fibers into nanocelluloses

Gabriela L. Berto, Bruno D. Mattos, Josman Velasco, Bin Zhao, Fernando Segato, Orlando J. Rojas, Valdeir Arantes 2023 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

Controlling superstructure formation and macro-scale adhesion via confined evaporation of cellulose nanocrystals

Antonio M. Borrero-López, Luiz Garcia Greca, Orlando J. Rojas, Blaise L. Tardy 2023 Cellulose
More information on our research in the Aalto research portal.
Research portal

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Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

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School Latest News:

The picture shows the menu, in which the CO2 emissions are marker with color codes and the price in euros.
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

New research: Labeling carbon footprint affects the choices of mass catering customers – and the labeling method matters, too!

A recent study conducted in Germany shows that customers in a student canteen choose low-emission meals when presented with the carbon footprint of meals. This effect was strongest when the information was color-coded in a traffic-light scheme and translated into environmental costs in euros. According to one of the researchers, these findings could also be relevant for Finland, where mass catering is particularly popular.
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Awards and Recognition Published:

School of Business became a Champion member of the global PRME network for sustainability education

Champion-level membership demonstrates that the School of Business is a leader in promoting responsibility, not just nationally but also internationally, while also committing it to work more diligently to advance sustainable development and responsibility.
Cars driving on the highway at night
Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

Economists' report: Emission restrictions would accelerate the electrification of Helsinki's car fleet

Achieving Helsinki's carbon neutrality goal requires new impactful measures. According to the recent study by Aalto University's economics working group, areas with CO2 emission-free transportation would be an efficient way to reduce emissions in Helsinki's transportation sector. A sufficient transition period would be a prerequisite for success.
Mies seisoo ja katsoo hymyillen kameraan.
Cooperation Published:

Raine Viitala: 'Spotify for electric motors' opens up platforms for device designers

A research team aims to make electricity and machines work better together

Events:

ABC Seminar -  Joonas Autio - March 4th
Lectures and seminars

ABC Seminar: Advancements in High-Resolution Comparative Neuroimaging - Unveiling Cortical Organization in Macaque Monkeys

This time, Joonas Autio (Brain Connectomics Imaging Lab, RIKEN-BDR, Japan) will delve into methodological and conceptual advancements contributing to the improvement of noninvasive MRI measures in macaque monkeys and humans.
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Lectures and seminars

Miten tekoäly muuttaa työtä?

University of Helsinki and Aalto University have invited Sasu Tarkoma, Mona Mannevuo and Tero Ojanperä to discuss how AI is changing work.
AI in Research Work
Lectures and seminars, Staff trainings, Support for teams, Training to support research

AI in Research Work, Mar 11, 2024

Learn about AI's impact on research work with Staff Scientist & Data Agent Dr. Enrico Glerean and Data Agent Dr. Pedro Silva.
CodeRefinery
Workshops

Code Refinery 12-14 & 19-21/March/2024

If you are writing code that is used in research, then this workshop is for you!
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