Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Bioproduct Chemistry

The Bioproduct Chemistry group is led by Prof. Monika Österberg. The group works on the development of renewable, high added-value materials based on lignocellulosics. Our research is especially focused on understanding interfacial properties using atomic force microscopy (AFM, imaging and force measurements), quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), among other techniques.
CHEM_Bio_Foam and woad research
Foams and woad prints research

Our research areas:

  1. Lignin valorization with a focus on lignin nanoparticles

  2. Lignocellulosic nanomaterials

  3. Surface functionalization and understanding surface interactions

  4. Living cells and biomaterials

  5. Smart assembly of wood polymers for high-performance biobased materials

Schematic illustration of lignin valorization

1. Lignin valorization

An important part of our research is devoted to the transformation of waste lignin from biorefineries and pulp industries into high-added-value products. The preparation, modification and utilization of colloidal lignin particles (lignin nanoparticles) are at the core of this research line.

Bio-based coatings, adhesives, and composites are some examples of commercial applications of colloidal lignin particles we are working on.

Composite film made of cellulose nanofibrils and lignin

2. Lignocellulosic nanomaterials

Aiming for more sustainable use of natural resources, we work on the development of new value-added materials based on cellulose nanofibrils, hemicelluloses, and colloidal lignin particles to replace fossil-oil-based materials in areas ranging from packaging and coatings to tissue engineering. Components from bark extracts are also studied as biocolorants and for packaging and other added-value applications.

Textiles modified with dyes and hydrophobic coatings. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

3. Surface functionalization and understanding surface interactions

We explore different green approaches for surface modification. Our main aim is to develop bio-based dyes and pigments to replace synthetic dyes commonly used in the textile industry.

In addition, nontoxic approaches for protective coating solutions with controlled breathability for surfaces like wood, textiles and paper are explored.

Schematic illustration of a cell in contact with cellulose nanofibrils, and photo of 3D printing

4. Living cells and biomaterials

Our approach to developing materials is through a fundamental understanding of interfacial interactions. Hence, the interaction forces and adhesion between living cells and different biomaterials (including cellulose nanofibril hydrogels) are studied in our group. Analyses on cell mechanics have also been carried out. The results of these studies are relevant for advanced cell cultures, wound treatment, and drug testing and tissue engineering, among other biomedical applications.

We also work on the development of 3D printed scaffolds made of hydrogel materials based on wood polymers for cell culturing and other biomedical applications.

Two images: top 6 test tubes with differing amounts of water and brown particles in layers, bottom: brown composite material with water droplets balanced on the surface

5. Smart assembly of wood polymers for high-performance biobased materials

Answering the call for sustainability, we aim to create new functional materials based on smart combinations of fully renewable and biodegradable components and avoiding chemical modification, which allows us to harness the maximum benefits of each individual constituent’s inherent functionality and surface properties.

The key tool of our research is unraveling the interfacial properties of wood-based resources and renewable polymers as well as their colloidal assembly, addressing the important scientific challenges in colloid and interface science.

FinnCERES - Flagship for boosting bioeconomy

Boosting the world’s bioeconomy by developing new bio-based materials with Aalto University and VTT, companies, and research organizations through a shared passion to create a sustainable future and a belief in innovations based on solid scientific foundations.

Read more
Birch leaves. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya
Bioproduct Chemistry group / photo by Jinze Dou

Join us!

Highly motivated MSc, doctoral or postdoctoral students interested in joining the team should contact Prof. Österberg ([email protected]).

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Related content:

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

Monika Österberg starts as Head of Department at BIO2

Professor Monika Österberg has been nominated as the Head of Department at the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems (BIO2), starting January 1, 2021. Her term is for three years. She has acted as Vice Head of Department since the beginning of the year 2020.

Monica Österberg

Wood Wonders exhibition showcases climate-friendly building concepts

If all the buildings constructed in Finland each year were made of wood, the amount of wood needed for their construction would grow back in ten hours.

Wood Wonders exhibition at Helsinki airport. Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Using lignin to replace fossil materials

Ball-like lignin particles developed by researchers open up completely new possibilities for the utilisation of lignin.

The research and utilisation of ball-like lignin particles  is still new, but the production is already possible in batches of several kilogrammes. That makes it possible to test them in different applications, says Professor Monika Österberg. Photo: Glen Forde/Materials Platform

Breakthrough in lignin research: spherical particles multiply enzyme efficiency

Lignin, a pulp industry by-product, could replace fossil materials.

Biocatalysts (pictured at the bottom of the vial), supported by spherical lignin particles and embedded in natural polymer matrix, open new avenues to green synthesis reactions in the presence of water. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

Monika Österberg develops from wood a contender to oil

Associate Professor of Bioproduct Chemistry Monika Österberg wants to see her innovations change the world.

Monika Österberg

Latest publications:

Self-Assembled Nanorods and Microspheres for Functional Photonics : Retroreflector Meets Microlens Array

Guang Chu, Feng Chen, Bin Zhao, Xue Zhang, Eyal Zussman, Orlando J. Rojas 2021 ADVANCED OPTICAL MATERIALS

Cytokeratin 5 determines maturation of the mammary myoepithelium

Vivi Deckwirth, Eeva Kaisa Rajakylä, Sandhanakrishnan Cattavarayane, Anna Acheva, Niccole Schaible, Ramaswamy Krishnan, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Monika Österberg, Pia Björkenheim, Antti Sukura, Sari Tojkander 2021 iScience

Mild alkaline separation of fiber bundles from eucalyptus bark and their composites with cellulose acetate butyrate

Jinze Dou, Alp Karakoç, Leena-Sisko Johansson, Sami Hietala, Dmitry Evtyugin, Tapani Vuorinen 2021 Industrial Crops and Products

Self-Standing Lignin-Containing Willow Bark Nanocellulose Films for Oxygen Blocking and UV Shielding

Jinze Dou, Tapani Vuorinen, Hanna Koivula, Nina Forsman, Mika Sipponen, Sami Hietala 2021 ACS Applied Nano Materials

Tuning the functional properties of lignocellulosic films by controlling the molecular and supramolecular structure of lignin

E. Gerbin, G. N. Rivière, L. Foulon, Y. M. Frapart, B. Cottyn, M. Pernes, C. Marcuello, B. Godon, A. Gainvors-Claisse, D. Crônier, A. Majira, M. Österberg, B. Kurek, S. Baumberger, V. Aguié-Béghin 2021 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

Environmentally dependent adsorption of 2,4-dichlorophenol on cellulose-chitosan self-assembled composites

Diego Gomez-Maldonado, Ilari Filpponen, Leena-Sisko Johansson, Matthew N. Waters, Iris Beatriz Vega Erramuspe, Maria S. Peresin 2021 Biopolymers

Fabrication of aerogels from cellulose nanofibril grafted with β-cyclodextrin for capture of water pollutants

Diego Gomez-Maldonado, Autumn Marie Reynolds, Leena-Sisko Johansson, Daniel J. Burnett, Jayachandra Babu Ramapuram, Matthew Neal Waters, Iris Beatriz Vega Erramuspe, Maria Soledad Peresin 2021 Journal of Porous Materials

Simple functionalization of cellulose beads with pre-propargylated chitosan for clickable scaffold substrates

Diego Gomez-Maldonado, Ilari Filpponen, Javier A. Hernandez-Diaz, Matthew N. Waters, Maria L. Auad, Leena-Sisko Johansson, Iris B. Vega-Erramuspe, Maria S. Peresin 2021 Cellulose

The physicochemical properties of cellulose surfaces modified with (depolymerised) suberin and suberin fatty acid

Berhane Handiso, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Leena Sisko Johansson, Mark Hughes 2021 Industrial Crops and Products
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database
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