Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Wood Material Science and Technology

The wood material science and technology group, led by assistant professor Lauri Rautkari, focuses on a variety of subjects ranging from developing thermal modification processes and improving the properties of wooden construction materials to microbiology and chemistry of wood and wood components. The task for this group is to develop new sustainable, environmentally friendly and diverse wood products with enhanced properties.

Our research areas:

  1. Fundamental research on water interactions of biomaterials

  2. Chemical imaging of biomaterials

  3. Wood modification


The aim of our research is to increase the understanding of wood material behavior and developing products and processes for wood industry. We are using state-of-art analyzing and characterization tools and equipment such as confocal Raman microscope, NIR hyperspectral camera, FTIR spectrometer, dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) apparatus and mechanical testing devices. We are able to use several reactors, ovens and other process equipment in our research tasks.

Research subjects:



Thermal and chemical modification of wood

We research the phenomena behind the changes in wood material due to different modification methods, such as thermal and chemical modification, e.g., innovative hot water modification process for solid wood, as well as developing novel analysis techniques to study water vapor sorption phenomena.

Surface modification of wood

We study wood modification by one-sided surface charring in order to create a durable, ecological and maintenance-free construction material for wall claddings and sidings, as well as for other purposes both indoors and outdoors.

Pine extractives and natural durability of wood

We investigate the ways in which pine wood extractives prevent the growth of wood decaying fungi and study how the fungi work to overcome the effects of those extractives.

Antibacterial properties of wood extracts

We study the antibacterial properties of wood components, such as extractives, lignin and VOC's especially in terms of pathogenic bacteria.

Chemical imaging of wood

We are applying confocal Raman microspectroscopy and chemometrics to analyze cellular level changes during wood decay and the distribution of chemical modification agents. We are also developing methods to study local changes in water vapor sorption in the wood cell wall in-situ.

Wood-based panels and lignin adhesives

We are developing environmentally bening, greener adhesives for the wood panel industry by utilizing the versatility of wood lignin.

Wood veneer and plywood properties

We aim to improve the properties of wood veneer by investigating the effect of drying parameters on the hydroxyl group accessibility and glueability of green birch veneers, as well as increase the fire-retardant properties of veneers for plywood production and investigate the impact of treatments on bondability and sorption behavior.

Ongoing research:

  • Recycling possibilities for wooden packaging waste and wood working industry by-products - RecycledWood (KiertoPuu; EU/ERDF 2019-2020)
  • Wood modification using pressurized hot water - HOTWOOD (Academy of Finland, 2017-2021)
  • Interactions of wood and water in the nanoscale - WooD2O (AoF 2018-2021)
  • Charred surface as a durable, sustainable façade material for the future of wood construction - CHARFACE (AoF 2019-2022)
  • Thermal modification of wood in aqueous media (EU/ERDF 2018-2020)
  • Several ongoing industrial projects (2014 -)
Demonstrating thermal modification of wood - photo: Olli Häkämies

The 4-year Academy of Finland funded project HotWood investigates what happens to the ultrastructure of wood, when it is modified in superheated water at high pressure. Find out more about this and other projects at metsä.fi!

CHEM_Prof Lauri Rautkari

Join us!

We are continuously looking for talented researchers (Aalto students, MSc thesis workers, doctoral students and postdocs).

For further information, contact Prof. Lauri Rautkari ([email protected])

Research group members:

Muhammad Awais

Muhammad Awais

Doctoral candidate
T107 Bioproducts and Biosystems

Maija Kymäläinen

Academy Postdoctoral Researcher

Paavo Penttilä

Academy Postdoctoral Researcher
T107 Bioproducts and Biosystems
CHEM_Bio_Wood material and technology group photo

Related content:

Kuvassa Pasi Herranen, Orvokki Ihalainen ja Panu Miettinen

Anything but an ordinary greenhouse

A wood-structured windowless greenhouse consumes only half as much energy as a traditional glass greenhouse. In addition to producing food, Pasi Herranen’s invention could generate electricity and excess heat in the future.

Wood Wonders exhibition at Helsinki airport. Photo: Anne Kinnunen

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.


Latest publications:

Humidity-dependence of the hydroxyl accessibility in Norway spruce wood

Michael Altgen, Lauri Rautkari 2021 Cellulose

Thermal modification of wood—a review: chemical changes and hygroscopicity

Callum Hill, Michael Altgen, Lauri Rautkari 2021 Journal of Materials Science

Hydrophobization of the Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers by Incorporating Plant-Derived Hydrophobic Compounds

Kaniz Moriam, Marja Rissanen, Daisuke Sawada, Michael Altgen, Leena-Sisko Johansson, Dmitry Victorovitch Evtyugin, Chamseddine Guizani, Michael Hummel, Herbert Sixta 2021 ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering

Hyperspectral imaging and chemometrics reveal wood acetylation on different spatial scales

Mikko Mäkelä, Michael Altgen, Tiina Belt, Lauri Rautkari 2021 Journal of Materials Science

Combining scattering analysis and atomistic simulation of wood-water interactions

Paavo A. Penttilä, Antti Paajanen, Jukka A. Ketoja 2021 Carbohydrate Polymers

Visualizing Degradation of Cellulose Nanofibers by Acid Hydrolysis

Panagiotis Spiliopoulos, Stefan Spirk, Timo Pääkkönen, Mira Viljanen, Kirsi Svedström, Leena Pitkänen, Muhammad Awais, Eero Kontturi 2021 Biomacromolecules

Cellulose-lignin composite fibres as precursors for carbon fibres. Part 1 – Manufacturing and properties of precursor fibres

Mikaela Trogen, Nguyen Duc Le, Daisuke Sawada, Chamseddine Guizani, Tainise Vergara Lourençon, Leena Pitkänen, Herbert Sixta, Riddhi Shah, Hugh O'Neill, Mikhail Balakshin, Nolene Byrne, Michael Hummel 2021 Carbohydrate Polymers

Antioxidant, antibacterial and antitumoural activities of kraft lignin from hardwood fractionated by acid precipitation

Tainise Vergara Lourencon, Gabriel G. de Lima, Carolina S. P. Ribeiro, Fabrício A. Hansel, Giselle M. Maciel, Krisle da Silva, Sheila M. B. Winnischofer, Graciela I. B. de Muniz, Washington L E Magalhães 2021 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

Cellulose dissolution in aqueous NaOH–ZnO : cellulose reactivity and the role of ZnO

Saija Väisänen, Rubina Ajdary, Michael Altgen, Kaarlo Nieminen, Kavindra K. Kesari, Janne Ruokolainen, Orlando J. Rojas, Tapani Vuorinen 2021 Cellulose

Distribution and curing reactions of melamine formaldehyde resin in cells of impregnation-modified wood

Michael Altgen, Muhammad Awais, Daniela Altgen, André Klüppel, Mikko Mäkelä, Lauri Rautkari 2020 Scientific Reports
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database
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