Department of Electrical Engineering and Automation

Microsystems Technology

Microsystems technology is a truly multidisciplinary research area. It is based on physical and analytical chemistry, biology, microelectronics, materials science, physics and biomedical technology.


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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 [1].
Fig. 1

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
Fig. 2

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 2. Differential pulse voltammogram (DPV) showing the three oxidation peaks associated with the redox reactions of oxycodone.
Fig. 3

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 lead by Professor Tomi Laurila.

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Press Releases

Latest press releases from the Microsystems Technology research group

Latest publications from the group 2018–2020:

  1. 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)

  2. Peltonen A., Etula J., Seitsonen J., Engelhardt P., and Laurila T., ” Three dimensional fine structure of nanometer scale Nafion thin films”, ACS Applied Polymer Materials, (accepted), (2020).

  3. 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)

  4. 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)

  5. 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)

  6. SainioS., Wester N., AarvaA., TitusC., NordlundD., KauppinenE., LeppänenE., PalomäkiT., KoehneJ., PitkänenO., KordasK., KimM., LipsanenH., MozetičM., CaroM., Meyyappan M., KoskinenJ., and LaurilaT., ”Trends in carbon, oxygen and nitrogen core in the X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy of carbon nanomaterials - a guide for the perplexed”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C,(accepted), (2020)

  7. 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)

  8. 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)

  9. 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)

  10. 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)

  11. 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)

  12. 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)

  13. 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)

  14. 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)

  15. 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).

  16. 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)

  17. 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).

  18. 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).

  19. 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)

  20. Caro M., Aarva, A., Deringer, V., Csányi, G., and Laurila T., "Reactivity of amorphous carbon surfaces: rationalizing the role of structural motifs on functionalization using machine learning", Chemistry of Materials, 30, pp. 7446–7455, (2018). (IF = 9.890)

  21. Deringer V., Caro M., Jana R., Aarva A., Elliott S. Laurila T., Csányi G., and Pastewka L., ”Computational Surface Chemistry of Tetrahedral Amorphous Carbon by Combining Machine Learning and DFT", Chemistry of Materials, 30, pp 7438–7445, (2018). (IF = 9.890)

  22. Palomäki T., Peltola E., Sainio S., Wester N., Koskinen J. and Laurila T., “Unmodified and multi-walled carbon nanotube modified tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) films as in vivo sensor materials for sensitive and selective detection of dopamine”, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 118, pp. 23-20, (2018). (IF = 8.173)

  23. Chumillas S., Palomäki T., Zhang M., Laurila T., Climent V., and Feliu J., “Analysis of Catechol, 4-Methylcatechol and Dopamine electrochemical reactions on different substrate materials and pH conditions”, Electrochimica Acta, 292, pp. 309-321, (2018). (IF = 5.116).

  24. Isoaho N., Peltola E. Sainio S., Koskinen J. and Laurila T., ” Pt-grown carbon nanofibers for enzymatic glutamate biosensors and assessment of their biocompatibility“, RSC Advances, 8, 35802 - 35812, (2018). (IF = 2.936)

  25. Caro M., Deringer V., Koskinen J., Laurila T., and Csanyi G,” Growth mechanism and origin of high sp3 content in tetrahedral amorphous carbon”, Physical Review Letters, 120, 166101, (2018). (IF = 8.462)

  26. soaho N., Sainio S., Wester N., Johansson L-S, Botello L., Peltola E., Climent V., Feliu J., Koskinen J. and Laurila T., “Pt-grown carbon nanofibers for detection of hydrogen peroxide”, RSC Advances, 8, pp. 12742-1751, (2018). (IF = 2.936)

  27. Wester N., Etula J., Lilius T., Sainio S., Laurila T., and Koskinen J., ” Selective detection of morphine in the presence of paracetamol with anodically pretreated dual layer Ti/tetrahedral amorphous carbon electrodes”, Electrochemistry Communications, 86, pp. 166-170, (2018). (IF = 4.396)

  28. Peltola E., Sainio S., Holt K.B., Palomäki T., Koskinen J., and Laurila T., ” Electrochemical fouling of dopamine and recovery of carbon electrodes”, Analytical Chemistry, 90, 1408-1416, (2018). (IF = 6.320)

  29. Etula J., Wester N., Sainio S., Laurila T., and Koskinen J.,” Characterization and electrochemical properties of iron-doped tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) thin films”, RSC Advances, 8, pp. 26356–26363, (2018). (IF = 2.936)

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