Honorary Doctor Anjana Devi seeks out new frontiers in inorganic materials chemistry

Anjana Devi is a researcher at the frontiers in the field of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technology. Professor Devi is a world-leading scientist particularly concerning the precursor chemistry for ALD and CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) thin-film fabrication. In 2020, she was named an honorary doctor at Aalto.
A portrait of professor Anjana Devi.

Professor Devi has contributed strongly to bringing the ALD and CVD research communities together. She has organised major joint international ALD and CVD conferences and has led EU projects and major German projects (involving many big companies) in the field. As a result, she has a built a strong collaborative network with leading ALD and CVD groups worldwide. She has published more than 200 peer reviewed papers and supervised several master’s and doctoral researchers.
“I am basically an inorganic chemist, and my focus is primarily on materials chemistry with an interdisciplinary approach. My research helps fabricate advanced nanostructured functional materials for new technological applications. To put it in simple terms, I seek out new material systems that could improve the functionality of devices, to make them more efficient”, Devi says.
These days, the current trend is to make technological devices including electronic gadgets smaller and smaller. This sets a lot of demands for the new functional materials to fit into the limited dimensions, while at the same time being efficient.

“Atomic Layer Deposition can be used to produce high-quality materials. The field could be optoelectronics, microelectronics, energy-related, biomedical, there are many applications. This technology was basically invented at Aalto University, or its precursor, some 50 years ago.”

The title of honorary doctor celebrates over 20 years of work

Being named an honorary doctor came as a surprise to professor Devi. She found out about it while she was on vacation in India.

“I was in India when I got the email that my name was proposed. Initially I couldn’t believe it, but later on I found out it was true. My family was elated and so was I. It couldn’t have been a better reward to my family who have supported me throughout my life to strive towards excellence. I am very thankful to my coworkers, both past and present, who have played a major role in me being successful in my research career. Working with younger researchers keeps me going. The nomination is a great honour and privilege for me, of course, and it motivates me further to contribute to the field of emerging technologies. This honour is very special as ALD technology took off in Aalto nearly five decades ago and recognition in this field makes me even prouder’’, Devi says.
Devi is excited about the seminar and conferment event on June 16 and 17. She says this affirms her notion that the research she has done for the last 20 years has been valuable and recognised.

“I’m very proud to be an honorary doctor at Aalto. Most importantly, this honour motivates me to carry on doing cutting-edge research in this emerging field and to make a significant contribution to the scientific community and humanity at large”, she says.

A long collaboration with Aalto

Over the years, Devi has collaborated with researchers at Aalto, especially professor Maarit Karppinen, likewise a renowned figure in the field of inorganic chemistry. Devi has also written joint publications with professor Riikka Puurunen, an expert in ALD and catalysis research.

Professors Devi and Karppinen have worked together for several years within the framework of different EU research projects. Karppinen’s expertise is in molecular layer disposition (MLD) and functional materials, while Devi’s contributions are more focused on precursor chemistry and materials science.

“Professor Karppinen and I have worked on many joint research projects, and we have some joint
doctoral programmes. Maarit has been one of the co-supervisors for my current and former
students as well. She is a visiting international professor at our university, a VIP professor,
which is a big honour for a scientist. We are extremely proud to have her as a VIP professor. Many
Aalto students come to the University of Bochum and the other way around”, says Devi.

Professor Devi’s relationship with Aalto goes back some 25 years. She used to be associated with
Helsinki University of Technology, a precursor of Aalto, when she was finishing her doctoral
studies in India.

“I was offered a post-doctorate position after I had applied for it. But during that same time, I also received an offer for a Humboldt fellowship in Germany, and I ended up accepting it. Later I did meet with the Finnish researchers many times and built networks that have resulted in the joint collaborative research of the last years. It’s great to be formally a part of Aalto now, 25 years later.”

New collaboration projects and a push toward green research

Currently, professor Devi is involved in an ongoing EU project called HYCOAT, which is part of the
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions -Innovative Training Network (ITN). 
“At the moment, we also have a new project with Maarit – a project called ALPMOH, which is funded by the Academy of Finland and German (DAAD) funding agencies. It is an exchange programme for master’s and doctoral students. Three Aalto students and one postdoc will join us in the next two years and four of my students will go to Aalto. We are eager to enhance this collaboration in the upcoming years and to extend the collaboration to other researchers at Aalto”, Devi says.
Professor Devi is also an active proponent of green research and is involved with many endeavours to combat climate change. The current focus is on trying to make green ALD processes. The energy footprint of the process can be influenced and optimised, for instance by the rational design of ligands and precursors by reducing synthetic steps, avoiding excess solvents. Novel greener precursors can considerably reduce the environmental impact.
Furthermore, professor Devi has been and continues to be engaged with teams and think tanks that promote awareness of diversity and inclusiveness in research.   She says she would love to become a part of the teaching team at Aalto, on an honorary basis as a guest lecturer.

In her view, a successful chemist needs to be motivated, creativity and good problem-solving skills. It is also useful to have good interpersonal skills, to be organised, and be able to work as part of a team.

“It is vital to have passion and being curios to try to learn new things. I would say that especially for chemical engineers, it is important to be exposed early on to the main subjects and gain a balanced understanding of engineering, physics, and chemistry.”

As a part of the Ceremony Week at Aalto, Professor Devi will hold a seminar on 16 June. The event takes place at the School of Chemical Engineering (Kemistintie 1), at 2.15 PM. For more information, see the conferment website.


  • Professor and leader of the research group Inorganic Materials Chemistry (IMC) at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.
  • Honorary doctor at Aalto University (2020).
  • Extremely passionate about her research. Loves being amidst her co-workers and wants to give the best opportunities for them to be successful in their future career. Therefore, her research group has earned the nickname ‘Anjana’s Kindergarten’.
  • In her spare time, she enjoys tennis and football, cooking, reading, and travel.
  • For detailed information on professor Devi’s work, see the IMC group's website.

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