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 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
Photo of 13 smiling people standing on a rock with the sunset in the background
Group outing in October 2021

Join us!

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

Student summer projects provide insights into bioproduct chemistry research

Three summer students contributed to research projects in the Bioproduct Chemistry group in 2022, gaining experience and skills in research techniques, and materials identification and characterization.

Read more
A person with a lab coat and protective gloves carrying test tubes and a black-and-white notebook. Their face is not pictured.

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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

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Latest publications:

High-resolution 3D printing of xanthan gum/nanocellulose bio-inks

Hossein Baniasadi, Erfan Kimiaei, Roberta Teixeira Polez, Rubina Ajdary, Orlando Rojas Gaona, Monika Österberg, Jukka Seppälä 2022 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

Hybrid films from cellulose nanomaterials—properties and defined optical patterns

Ilona Leppänen, Ari Hokkanen, Monika Österberg, Mika Vähä-Nissi, Ali Harlin, Hannes Orelma 2022 Cellulose

Biological activity of multicomponent bio-hydrogels loaded with tragacanth gum

Roberta Teixeira Polez, Maria Morits, Christopher Jonkergouw, Josphat Phiri, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Jukka Seppälä, Markus B. Linder, Thaddeus Maloney, Orlando Rojas Gaona, Monika Österberg 2022 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

Affinity of Keratin Peptides for Cellulose and Lignin: A Fundamental Study toward Advanced Bio-Based Materials

Emmi-Maria Nuutinen, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Miriam Kellock, Muhammad Farooq, Monika Österberg 2022 Langmuir

Lightweight lignocellulosic foams for thermal insulation

Tia Lohtander, Reima Herrala, Päivi Laaksonen, Sami Franssila, Monika Österberg 2022 Cellulose

Microalgae Chlorella vulgaris and kraft lignin stabilized cellulosic wet foams for camouflage

Nina Forsman, Tia Lohtander, Juha Jordan, Ngoc Huynh, Ari Seppälä, Päivi Laaksonen, Sami Franssila, Monika Österberg 2022 Soft Matter

Lignin Nanoparticles as an Interfacial Modulator in Tough and Multi-Resistant Cellulose–Polycaprolactone Nanocomposites Based on a Pickering Emulsions Strategy

Erfan Kimiaei, Muhammad Farooq, Rafael Grande, Kristoffer Meinander, Monika Österberg 2022 Advanced Materials Interfaces

Interfacial catalysis and lignin nanoparticles for strong fire- and water-resistant composite adhesives

K. Alexander Henn, Susanna Forssell, Antti Pietiläinen, Nina Forsman, Ira Smal, Paula Nousiainen, Rahul Prasad Bangalore Ashok, Pekka Oinas, Monika Österberg 2022 Green Chemistry

Synthesis of an Azide-and Tetrazine-Functionalized [60]Fullerene and Its Controlled Decoration with Biomolecules

Vijay Gulumkar, Ville Tähtinen, Aliaa Ali, Jani Rahkila, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Antti Äärelä, Monika Österberg, Marjo Yliperttula, Pasi Virta 2022 ACS Omega

Development of a β-cyclodextrin-chitosan polymer as active coating for cellulosic surfaces and capturing of microcystin-LR

Diego Gomez-Maldonado, Ilari Filpponen, Iris Beatriz Vega Erramuspe, Leena-Sisko Johansson, María Fernanda Mori, R. Jayachandra Babu, Matthew N. Waters, Maria S. Peresin 2022 Surfaces and Interfaces
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database
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