Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Materials Chemistry of Cellulose

The distinct emphasis of the group led by Prof. Eero Kontturi is set on interfacial phenomena: one of the main lines of research involves observing and manipulating cellulosic materials in confined 2D space by using a surface science approach. Basically, this means performing research on cellulose-based entities on a very flat surface. The impetus for such research is provided by the vast diversity of functional materials that can be manufactured from 2D constructions, such as sensors and optoelectronic devices.
Research group members of Materials Chemistry of Cellulose

Research themes

Plant cell wall polymers in 2D

Focus is on building morphologically distinct 2-dimensional structures from well-defined cell wall components, such as cellulose nanocrystals or amorphous polysaccharides. The structures can be positioned on a flat, smooth surface to provide means for observing fundamental interactions between plant cell components when confined in 2D space. The results can also be applied to utilizing interfacial phenomena in more realistic materials like plant-based fibres where, for example, adsorbing elements are used to perform certain tasks on the fibre surface.

Cellulose-inorganic hybrids: new family of thin films for energy materials

This effort centres around building thin films from cellulose-based and inorganic materials. Electrical and thermal conductivity as well as optical properties of the films are under particular scrutiny and the application targets are therefore set in energy materials, such as thermoelectric devices. Our group’s wide-ranging knowledge on manufacturing various kinds of cellulose and cellulose derivative films are utilized in tuning the desired film properties. This is a consortium with VTT High Performance Fibre Products and an integral collaboration with Inorganic Chemistry group at Aalto.

Towards realistic, green, and low-cost production of cellulose nanocrystals

This project aims <strong>at overcoming or circumventing the bottlenecks in cellulose nanocrystal production. Instead of the conventional liquid acid / solid fibre system, a gas/solid system is applied in a custom-built reactor. Various ways of dispersing the nanocrystals from a hydrolyzed fibre matrix are at the centre of this effort. The concept report on the industrial feasibility of the gaseous HCl hydrolysis method can be found here.

Latest publications

Mushroom-derived chitosan-glucan nanopaper filters for the treatment of water

Jan Janesch, Mitchell Jones, Markus Bacher, Eero Kontturi, Alexander Bismarck, Andreas Mautner 2020 REACTIVE AND FUNCTIONAL POLYMERS

Nanomaterials Derived from Fungal Sources-Is It the New Hype?

Wan M.F.B.W. Nawawi, Mitchell Jones, Richard J. Murphy, Koon Yang Lee, Eero Kontturi, Alexander Bismarck 2020 Biomacromolecules

Surface properties of chitin-glucan nanopapers from Agaricus bisporus

Wan Mohd Fazli Wan Nawawi, Koon Yang Lee, Eero Kontturi, Alexander Bismarck, Andreas Mautner 2020 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

Chitin Nanopaper from Mushroom Extract

Wan Mohd Fazli Wan Nawawi, Koon Yang Lee, Eero Kontturi, Richard J. Murphy, Alexander Bismarck 2019 ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering

Janus-type nanorods by surface-initiated polymer grafting from the reducing end-groups of cellulose nanocrystals

Katja Heise, Mauri Kostiainen, Eero Kontturi 2019 Abstracts of papers of the American Chemical Society

Knoevenagel Condensation for Modifying the Reducing End Groups of Cellulose Nanocrystals

Katja Heise, Tetyana Koso, Leena Pitkänen, Antje Potthast, Alistair W.T. King, Mauri A. Kostiainen, Eero Kontturi 2019 ACS Macro Letters

Recovery of Gold from Chloride Solution by TEMPO-Oxidized Cellulose Nanofiber Adsorbent

Shila Jafari, Benjamin P. Wilson, Minna Hakalahti, Tekla Tammelin, Eero Kontturi, Mari Lundström, Mika Sillanpää 2019 SUSTAINABILITY

Structural Order in Cellulose Thin Films Prepared from a Trimethylsilyl Precursor

Andrew O.F. Jones, Roland Resel, Benedikt Schrode, Eduardo Machado-Charry, Christian Röthel, Birgit Kunert, Ingo Salzmann, Eero Kontturi, David Reishofer, Stefan Spirk 2019 Biomacromolecules

Structural order in cellulose thin films prepared from trimethylsilyl cellulose

Andrew Jones, Roland Resel, Benedikt Schrode, Paul Christian, Christian Roethel, Birgit Kunert, Natalia Bedoya-Martinez, Ingo Salzmann, David Reishofer, Eero Kontturi, Stefan Spirk 2019 Abstracts of papers of the American Chemical Society

Waste-Derived Low-Cost Mycelium Nanopapers with Tunable Mechanical and Surface Properties

Mitchell Jones, Kathrin Weiland, Marina Kujundzic, Johannes Theiner, Hanspeter Kählig, Eero Kontturi, Sabu John, Alexander Bismarck, Andreas Mautner 2019 Biomacromolecules
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database

Professor Eero Kontturi


Materials Chemistry of Cellulose
Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology
Aalto University,  Espoo, Finland

[email protected]



Current Group Members:



Dr. Timo Pääkkönen

Timo Pääkkönen has an extensive background in cellulose chemistry. It ranges from pulping and bleaching to designing the production processes of novel nanocellulose products. He studied the production of nanocellulose with bromide-free TEMPO-mediated oxidation (D.Sc. (Tech) 2017) under supervision of Prof. Tapani Vuorinen (a collaboration of Aalto University and UPM). In 2015-2017 he worked on a scale-up project of the production of parenchymal nanocellulose at the start-up company Betulium. In 2017 he joined the Materials Chemistry of Cellulose group of Prof. Eero Kontturi as a postdoctoral researcher. Today he designs production processes of CNCs which are based on the hydrolysis of cellulose with pressurized HCl gas.

[email protected]


Dr. Katja Heise

I have a strong background in chemically modifying and characterizing biopolymers and I am very much interested in structure-property-relationships resulting from tailored modifications of these fascinating materials. My PhD thesis (completed in 2017 at the Institute of Plant and Wood Chemistry, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany) was carried out in collaboration with BASF SE focusing on the synthesis of lignocellulose-based hydrogels for soil applications. I joined Aalto in November 2017 as a shared postdoctoral researcher (together with the group of Prof. M. Kostiainen). My current work lies at the interface between nanocellulose modification, organic synthesis, and polymer sciences, using cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) or nanofibers (CNF) as modification templates.

 [email protected]



Dr. Iina Solala



Dr. Zhuojun Meng

Dr. Zhuojun Meng received her Ph.D. (2017) degrees in Polymer Chemistry and Bioengineering from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She joined Aalto University in August 2018 and works as a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. E. Kontturi´s group. Currently her research interests include surface physical and molecular simulations.

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Dr. Wenyang Xu

I received my M.Sc. (2015) and Ph.D. (2019) degrees in Chemical Engineering from Åbo Akademi University, Finland. I have background in fractionation, chemical modification, characterization, and utilization of wood-derived (bio-) polymers. My PhD thesis was focusing on the utilization of wood-derived biopolymers with different 3D printing techniques for biomedical applications. I joined the group of Materials Chemistry of Cellulose in January of 2019 as a shared postdoctoral researcher (together with Associate Professor Torbjörn Pettersson, KTH). My current research is based on one of the Tandem forest value projects i.e. ‘Strongly adsorbed polymer layers for modification of cellulose surfaces towards new functional materials (STRONGAD)’.

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Dr. Valentina Guccini

Valentina received her PhD from Stockholm University in September 2019 with the thesis titled “Nanocellulose: energy applications and self-assembly”, under the supervision of German Salazar-Alvarez at the Department of Material and Environmental Chemistry. She began to work at Aalto University as Postdoctoral research in November 2019, joining the group of Eero Kontturi at the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems. Her main interests includes nanocellulose (exp. cellulose nanofibers and nanocrystals) based materials for energy applications, such as lithium ion batteries and fuel cell, and study their morphology and self-assembly in membranes, suspension or inorganic hybrids. Her main investigations tool includes small angle X-ray and neutron scattering (SAXS and SANS). More recently, she focused her research on the engineering of the next generation of carbon-capturing device based on nanocellulose bio-hybrids, focusing also on their interaction with liquid and vapor water. 

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Dr. Laleh Solhi

I have completed my BSc degree in Chemistry from Isfahan University (2004) in Iran and my MSc (2007) and PhD (2012) studies in Polymer Sciences and Polymer Engineering at Iran Polymer and Petrochemical Institute and University of Innsbruck in Austria. I spent my first post-doctoral research fellowship in an enzymology lab focusing on carbohydrate active enzymes in the University of British Columbia in Canada. My background is very diverse; spanning a wide range from chemical and biochemical synthesis and modification to chemical, physical and mechanical characterization of nanomaterials and biomaterials. I have successfully designed and developed materials (many of which derived from natural polymers) with applications in dentistry, drug delivery systems, cosmetics, diagnostics, medical devices, and biosensors. My primary approach involves using green (bio)chemistry to develop materials with minimal environmental impact. In my current position I am working on physical and chemical surface modification of nanocellulose for final application in dental materials. I am interested in the chemical and physical design and properties of microscopic nanocellulose-resin-tooth interfaces and their impact on macroscopic properties.

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PhD Student:


Panagiotis Spiliopoulos

I have graduated from University of Patras as a Materials Scientist (B.Sc) working on graphene’s chemical exfoliation, while my master studies took place in Stockholm University with my thesis titled ‘On the pyrolysis of nanocellulose aerogels’. After joining Materials Chemistry of Cellulose group as a Doctoral Candidate back in 2016, my research interests involve Cellulose-Inorganic hybrids preparation and self-assemblies of cellulosic nanoparticles. I am also working on plenty of microscopy techniques, involving AFM and SEM.

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Karl Mihhels

I am currently working on the topic of algal nanocellulose. I am both investigating more efficient ways to recover nanocellulose from algal biomass, and the peculiar properties of the cellulose itself. I am also interested in the sustainability aspect of the use of algae as a biobased raw material, and consider this topic important in everything I do.

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Yingfeng Wang

 I finished my second master degree in Aalto Universityin one year (2017-2018) with the major of Biomass Refining. Meanwhile, I worked as a research assistant in Biorefineriesgroupand also did my master thesis therewith concentration on simultaneous recycling of cellulose fibers and dyes from dyed cotton waste.I joined Materials Chemistry of Cellulosegroup after I got my master degree and mycurrentresearch fieldismodify hydrolyzed cellulosesby using of hydrolysis reactorin HCl gas.

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Marie Gestranius

Marie Gestranius is a Aalto/VTT doctoral student with several years of experience on bio-based materials in different applications. The research topics related to her PhD is nanocellulose and its behaviour at different interfaces.

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M.Sc. Ville Rissanen (M)

Ville is a Aalto/VTT doctoral student with a background in biochemistry and bioproduct technology. His M.Sc thesis (2016) was concerned with the production and characteristics of cellulose nanofibrils, and he has expertise in the preparation of hydrogels, films, cryogels, and porous aerogel structures from nanocellulosic materials. His current research focuses on functional nanocellulosic structures and their interactions with other materials ranging from inorganic aerosol particles to living microalgae cells.

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Topias Kilpinen

Topias graduated as a Master of Science from Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering in autumn 2019. The title of his master’s thesis was “Regenerated cellulose-based films and laboratory scale equipment for their production”. Starting from September 2019 he has been working as a doctoral candidate in Materials Chemistry of Cellulose group. His research focuses on hydrolysis of biomass into sugars with HCl gas.

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Marcel Kröger

Marcel received his Master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Hamburg in 2019, having focused on polymer syntheses and functionalization. For his Master thesis, he joined the research group of Prof. Morbidelli at ETH Zurich to work on the synthesis and functionalization of chromatographic resins for the high-throughput purification of antibodies by Protein A capture. Since joining the Materials Chemistry of Cellulose research group in November 2019, his focus is on the chemical modification of cellulose nanocrystals to integrate them into polymers.

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