The experimental facilities include extensive electrochemical analysis equipment, biocompatibility testing facilities including several different cell lines, different optical and electron microscopes, electrochemical atomic force microscopy and so forth. In addition, extensive utilization of facilities of Micronova and the Nanomicroscopy Center through close collaboration with several groups in Aalto provides the group access to top-class processing and analysis facilities.
Focus on Materials
The current focus of the Microsystems technology group is on understanding the physical and chemical properties of materials starting right from the atomic level (Figure 1). The research centers largely on carbon-nanomaterial-based electrochemical biosensors and on multilevel computational studies of their surface properties in various environments. Recently one of our focus areas has been computational deconvolution of spectroscopy results (Figure 2) to obtain detailed local chemical information about nanocarbon surfaces and thus their performance in different applications.
Applications in the biomedical sector
We apply our results from the fundamental scientific investigations to realize designer bioprobes to be used in detection of various biomolecules of interest, such as neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate as well as of different drug molecules, including paracetamol and opioids, from whole blood samples (Figure 3). These efforts strive towards realization of new groundbreaking analytical tools for neurobiologists as well as of developing new point-of-care (POC) diagnostic devices for clinical and home use.
Figure 1. Surface roughness and atomic film structure of tetrahedral amorphous carbon deposited at 60 eV, calculated as the mean absolute deviation of surface height from its average. Purple, red, orange, yellow, and blue atoms represent one-, two-, three-, four-, and fivefold coordinated C atoms, respectively.
Figure 2. Schematic presentation how the spectroscopy data (in this case from x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) measurements) can be computationally transformed into a atomic level view of the nanocarbon surface structure.
Figure 3. Differential pulse voltammogram (DPV) showing the three oxidation peaks associated with the redox reactions of oxycodone.
Co-operation around the World
The group carries out extensive collaboration with several top Universities around the world. In the field of computational studies, we have a close collaboration with University of Cambridge (UK) and University of Oxford (UK). In the field of advanced spectroscopy methods, we work with Stanford University (US). In the field of electrochemistry, the main collaborators are University College London (UK) and University of Alicante (Spain). Further, nanomaterial growth and characterization benefits from the close cooperation with NASA (Ames Research Center). National collaboration has been especially fruitful with the Neuroscience Center from University of Helsinki, pain clinic at the Hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), as well as across the different schools in Aalto University. We also collaborate extensively with the medical diagnostics sector in Finland.
The group is led by Professor Tomi Laurila
Associate Professor, Microsystem technology
Adjunct Professor, Electronics Reliability and Manufacturing
Department of Electrical Engineering and Automation
School of Electrical Engineering and Department of Chemistry and Materials Science
School of Chemical Engineering
Email: [email protected]
Latest press releases from the Microsystems Technology research group
Researchers can now obtain more accurate information than ever before on the structure and surface chemistry of carbon.
Sensors manufactured with carbon-based materials can provide uniquely accurate and real-time information on hereditary diseases or the concentrations of drugs in the body. In addition to medicine, carbonaceous materials are used in batteries, solar cells and water purification.
Other elements, such as hydrogen and oxygen, are almost always present in carbon-based materials, which alters the materials’ properties. Therefore, modifying materials for desired applications requires atomic-level knowledge on carbon surface structures and their chemistry. Researchers at Aalto University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and Stanford University have now taken a significant new step forward in describing the atomic nature of carbonaceous materials.
"Understanding X-ray Spectroscopy of Carbonaceous Materials by Combining Experiments, Density Functional Theory, and Machine Learning. Part I: Fingerprint Spectra", Anja Aarva, Volker L. Deringer, Sami Sainio, Tomi Laurila and Miguel A. Caro. Chemistry of Materials, 2019.
Machine learning is increasing the pace of development of customised carbon surfaces with a wide variety of applications.
The potential applications for tailor-made carbon surfaces are wide and include protective coatings, car parts, biomedical coatings and biosensors. Yet for these developments to be realised, detailed atomic level knowledge is still needed on how carbon surfaces are structured and how they can be modified.
Thanks to the development of a new computational model, Postdoctoral Researcher Miguel Caro is spearheading work in this field by researchers at Aalto University, who work in partnership with Professor Gábor Csányi and Dr Volker Deringer from Cambridge University.
"Reactivity of Amorphous Carbon Surfaces: Rationalizing the Role of Structural Motifs in Functionalization Using Machine Learning", Miguel A. Caro, Anja Aarva, Volker L. Deringer, Gábor Csányi and Tomi Laurila. Chemistry of Materials 2018 30 (21), 7446-7455
Customised carbon surfaces can be used in areas such as medical science and water purification.
Researchers at Aalto University and Cambridge University have made a significant breakthrough in computational science by combining atomic-level modelling and machine learning. For the first time, the method has been used to realistically model how an amorphous material is formed at the atomic level: that is, a material that does not have a regular crystalline structure. The approach is expected to have impact on the research of many other materials.
"Growth Mechanism and Origin of High sp3 Content in Tetrahedral Amorphous Carbon", Miguel A. Caro, Volker L. Deringer, Jari Koskinen, Tomi Laurila, and Gábor Csányi. Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 166101 (2018).
The effects of tramadol, an opioid drug, vary individually. Now, they can be predicted and monitored more accurately than ever before by quick measuring of drug concentrations.
Thanks to the development of a new sensor by researchers at Aalto University, it is now possible, for the first time, to quickly measure the concentration of tramadol, an opioid drug, from a drop of blood. The research has been conducted in cooperation with University of Helsinki and HUS Helsinki University Hospital. The new development represents a significant step forward, as tramadol use, similarly to other opioids, can easily lead to dependency, cause withdrawal symptoms, and even lead to overdose.
In fact, tramadol tops the list as the deadliest opioid. The new sensor can make more individual and effective treatment of pain possible. It may also help to diagnose and start the treatment of poisoning more rapidly.
Tramadol is a mild opioid, and along with codeine, the most-used opioid in Finland, for example, in the management of post-operative acute pain. It is used for chronic pain as well. Tramadol’s opioid effect is based on the metabolism from tramadol into O-desmethyltramadol (ODMT) metabolite in the liver. However, metabolic rates vary individually depending on genetic differences in metabolism of the liver and also possible combined actions of different drugs. Therefore, a dose of tramadol that might be necessary for one person’s pain relief may result in adverse reactions for someone else.
The expected affect of a drug can be examined by determining its concentration in blood. Currently, this is possible only through laborious and time-consuming laboratory testing. This means that, for the most part, calculating the correct dosage with strong analgesics relies on careful starting dose and small alterations in dosages based on patients’ reactions.
"Simultaneous electrochemical detection of tramadol and O-desmethyltramadol with Nafion-coated tetrahedral amorphous carbon electrode", Elsi Mynttinen, Niklas Wester, Tuomas Lilius, Eija Kalso, Jari Koskinen, Tomi Laurila. Electrochimica Acta, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electacta.2018.10.148
Latest publications from the group (2019–2021):
Kousar A., Peltola E., and Laurila T., ”Nanostructured geometries strongly affect fouling of carbon electrodes”, ACS Omega, (in print), (2021), (IF = 3.512)
Etula J., Wester N., Liljeström T., Sainio S., Palomäki T., Arstila K., Sajavaara T., Koskinen J., Caro M.A., and Laurila T., ”What determines the electrochemical properties of nitrogenated amorphous carbon thin films?”, Chemistry of Materials, 33, pp. 6813–6824, (2021), (IF = 9.811)
Durairaj V., Li P., Liljeström T., Wester N., Etula J., Leppänen I., Ge Y., Kontturi K., Tammelin T., Laurila T., and Koskinen J., “Nanocellulose / Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes Composites for Electrochemical Applications – Effect of Nanocellulose Dimension and Surface Functionalization”, ACS Applied Nanomaterials,4, pp. 5842-5853, (2021), (IF = 5.097)
Leppänen E., Aarva A., Sainio S., Caro M., and Laurila T., ”Connection between the physicochemical characteristics of amorphous carbon thin films and their electrochemical properties”, Journal of Physics: Condensed Materials, 33, 434002, (2021), (IF = 2.33)
Aarva A., Sainio S., Deringer V., Caro M., and Laurila T., ”X-ray spectroscopy fingerprints of pristine and functionalized graphene”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 125, pp. 18234–18246, (2021), (IF = 4.189).
Leppänen E., Etula J., Engelhardt P., Sainio S., Jiang H., Mikladal B., Peltonen A., Varjos I., and Laurila T., “Rapid industrial scale synthesis of robust carbon nanotube network electrodes for electroanalysis”, Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, 896, 115255, (IF = 3.807), (2021)
Verrinder E., Wester N., Leppänen E., Lilius T, Kalso E., Mikladal B., Varjos I., Koskinen J., and Laurila T., ”Electrochemical detection of morphine in untreated human capillary whole blood”, ACS Omega, 6, pp. 11563-11569, (IF = 3.512), (2021).
Peltonen A., Etula J., Seitsonen J., Engelhardt P., and Laurila T., ”Three-dimensional finestructure of nanometer scale Nafion thin films”, ACS Applied Polymer Materials, 3, pp.1078-1086 (2021). (ACS Editor’s Choice)
Sainio S., Wester N., Aarva A., Titus C., Nordlund D., Kauppinen E., Leppänen E., Palomäki T., Koehne J., Pitkänen O., Kordas K., Kim M., Lipsanen H., Mozetič M., Caro M.,Meyyappan M., Koskinen J., and Laurila T., ”Trends in carbon, oxygen and nitrogen corein the X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy of carbon nanomaterials - a guide for the perplexed”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 125, pp. 973-988, (2021). (IF = 4.189)
Caro, M. A., Csányi, G., Laurila, T., & Deringer, V. L. ”Machine learning driven simulated deposition of carbon films: From low-density to diamondlike amorphous carbon”, Physical Review B, 102,(17), 17420, (2020) (IF = 3.575)
PeltolaE., AarvaA., SainioS., HeikkinenJ., WesterN., JokinenV., KoskinenJ., LaurilaT., ”Biofouling affects the redox kinetics of outer and inner sphere probes on carbon surfaces drastically differently - implications to biosensing, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 22, pp. 16630-16640, (2020). (IF = 3.430)
Olabode O., Kosunen M., Unnikrishnan V., Palomäki T., Laurila T., Halonen K., and Ryynänen J., ”Time-based Sensor Interface for Dopamine Detection”, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I: Regular Papers, 67, pp. 3284-3296, (2020). (IF = 4.310)
Wester N., Mikladal B., Varjos I., Peltonen A., Kalso E., Lilius T., Laurila T., J and Koskinen J., “Disposable Nafion-coated single-walled carbon nanotube test strip for electrochemical quantitative determination of acetaminophen in finger-prick whole blood sample”, Analytical Chemistry, 92, pp. 13017-13024, (2020). (IF = 6.785)
Mynttinen E., Wester N., Lilius T., Kalso E., Mikladal B., Jiang H., Sainio S., Kauppinen E., Koskinen J and Laurila T., ”Electrochemical detection of oxycodone and its main metabolites with Nafion-coated single-walled carbon nanotube electrodes”, Analytical Chemistry, 92, pp. 8218–8227, (2020), (IF = 6.35)
Wester N., Mynttinen E., Etula J., Lilius T., Kalso E., Mikladal B., Zhang Q., Jiang H., Sainio S., Nordlund D., Kauppinen E., Laurila T., J and Koskinen J., “Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Network Electrodes for the Detection of Fentanyl Citrate”, ACS Applied Nanomaterials, 3, 2, pp. 1203-1212, (2020)
Sainio S., Leppänen E., Mynttinen E., Palomäki T., Wester N., Etula J., Isoaho N., Peltola E., Koehne J.. Meyyappan M., Koskinen J.,and Laurila T., ”Integrating Carbon Nanomaterials with Metals for Bio-sensing Applications”, Molecular Neurobiology, 57, (1)pp. 179-190, (2020). (IF = 4.586)
Wester N., Mynttinen E., Etula J., Lilius T., Kalso E., Kauppinen E.I., Laurila T., and Koskinen J., “Simultaneous detection of morphine and codeine in the presence of ascorbic acid and uric acid and in human plasma at Nafion-single walled carbon nanotube thin film electrode”, ACS Omega, 4, 18, pp. 17726-17734, (2019). (IF = 2.584)
Durairaj V., Wester N., Etula J., Laurila T., Lehtonen J., Rojas O. J., Pahimanolis N., and Koskinen J., ”Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes/Nanofibrillar Cellulose/Nafion® Composite-Modified Tetrahedral Amorphous Carbon Electrodes for Selective Dopamine Detection”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 123, 40, pp. 24826-24836, (2019). (IF = 4.309)
Aarva A., Deringer V. L., Sainio S., Laurila T., and Caro M., “Understanding X-ray spectroscopy of carbonaceous materials by combining experiments, density functional theory and machine learning. Part I: fingerprint spectra”, Chemistry of Materials, 31, 22, pp. 9243-9255, (2019). (IF = 10.159)
Aarva A., Deringer V. L., Sainio S., Laurila T., and Caro M., “Understanding X-ray spectroscopy of carbonaceous materials by combining experiments, density functional theory and machine learning. Part II: quantitative fitting of spectra”, Chemistry of Materials, 31, 22, pp. 9256-9267 (2019). (IF = 10.159)
Sainio S., Wester N., Titus C.J., Nordlund D., Lee S-J., Koskinen J., and Laurila T., “In-situ functionalization of tetrahedral amorphous carbon by filtered cathodic arc deposition”, AIP Advances, 9, (8), 085325, (2019). (IF = 1.597)
Heikkinen, J.J., Peltola, E., Wester, N., Koskinen, J., Laurila, T., Franssila, S. and Jokinen, V., “Fabrication of Micro-and Nanopillars from Pyrolytic Carbon and Tetrahedral Amorphous Carbon”, Micromachines, 10, pp. 510-531, (2019), (IF = 2.426).
Leppänen E., Peltonen A., Seitsonen J., Koskinen J., and Laurila T., ”Effect of thickness and additional elements on the filtering properties of a thin Nafion layer”, Journal of the Electroanalytical Chemistry, 843, pp. 12-21, (2019), (IF = 3.235)
Sainio S., Wester N., Titus C.J., Liao Y., Zhang Q., Nordlund D., Sokaras D., Lee S-J, Irwin K. D., Doriese W. B., O'Neil G. C., Swetz D. S., Ullom J. N., Kauppinen E., Laurila T., and Koskinen J., “A Hybrid X-ray Spectroscopy-Based Approach to Acquire Chemical and Structural Information of Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes With Superior Sensitivity”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C,123, pp. 6114–6120,(2019), (IF = 4.484).
Palomäki T., Caro M., Wester N., Sainio S., Etula J., Johansson L-S., Han J. G., Koskinen J. and Laurila T., ”Effect of Power Density on the Electrochemical Properties of Undoped Amorphous Carbon (a-C) Thin Films”, Electroanalysis, 31, pp. 1-11, (2019) (IF = 2.851).
Mynttinen E., Wester N., Lilius T., Kalso E., Koskinen J. and Laurila T. “Simultaneous electrochemical detection of tramadol and O-desmethyltramadol with Nafion-coated tetrahedral amorphous carbon electrode”, Electrochimica Acta, 295, pp. 347-353, (2019). (IF = 5.116)