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Significant funding for thin-film technology research - materials to be developed can be used, for example, in energy storage

The search for new, precisely tailored thin-film materials is accelerating for a wide range of next-generation applications in fields such as energy storage and IoT.
Maarit Karppinen

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Aalto University's Professor Maarit Karppinen an Advanced Grant (ERC AdG) for research in thin film technology. The funding amounts to €2.5 million and will run for five years. 

ALD technology has long been used by industry to produce cutting-edge inorganic thin films for applications such as microelectronics. A similar method, MLD, has also been known for a long time, but it did not gain much attention in the past. In contrast, the combination of the two methods for the production of inorganic-organic hybrid thin films, has just now started to rapidly gain ground. Professor Karppinen research group develops new materials by combining inorganic and organic components with atomic and molecular precision.

‘The possibility of combining inorganic and organic layers into better functional materials has fascinated researchers in recent years. My deepest goal is to develop ALD/MLD technology in an innovative way, exploiting unique new hybrid materials and material functionalities that researchers have never even dreamed of before,’ says Professor Maarit Karppinen.

New materials are needed for example for sustainable energy storage and conversion technologies.

‘New material functionalities could also offer unprecedented opportunities for efficient light-driven magnetic information storage or new types of bio-imaging and diagnostics,’ Karppinen continues.

The ERC Advanced Grant funding is amongst the most prestigious and competitive EU funding schemes, providing researchers with the opportunity to pursue ambitious, curiosity-driven projects that could lead to major scientific breakthroughs. They are awarded to established, leading researchers with a proven track-record of significant research achievements over the past decade. The grants - totalling €544 million - support cutting-edge research in a wide range of fields, from medicine and physics to social sciences and humanities. This is the second time Karppinen has received the prestigious funding.

‘To succeed, challenging research requires an interdisciplinary and motivated research team, a global network of top researchers, and most importantly, an enthusiastic spirit of discovery of new materials.’

Bio:

Maarit Karppinen graduated with a PhD in Engineering from Helsinki University of Technology in 1993. She has worked at several universities abroad, as an assistant professor in Japan (Tokyo Institute of Technology, 1996-2006), as a visiting professor in the USA (Oregon State University, 2015) and Germany (Ruhr-University Bochum, since 2016), and as an Academy Professor in Finland (2009-2013). Karppinen was appointed Professor at the then Helsinki University of Technology in 2006, and in 2017 she was awarded the title of Aalto Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science. Karppinen is an internationally recognised researcher in her field, having so far supervised 42 PhD students and has more than 500 scientific publications to her name.

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