News

Young Researcher of the Year develops multifunctional materials

The Finnish Foundation for Technology Promotion has named Assistant Professor Jaana Vapaavuori as Young Researcher of the Year for 2020.
Jaana Vapaavuori
Jaana Vapaavuori heads the Multifunctional Materials Design research group. Photo: Glen Forde

The Finnish Foundation for Technology Promotion chose Assistant Professor Jaana Vapaavuori as the recipient of the Young Researcher of the Year award for 2020. The award is worth EUR 10,000.

Doctor of Science (Technology) Jaana Vapaavuori heads the Multifunctional Materials Design research group at Aalto University. The group's goal is to create new multifunctional materials – that is, to combine several different functionalities in a single material.

For example, it will be possible in the future to manufacture multifunctional support structures for solar panels and other optoelectronic devices, such as LED lights. The structures make the device lighter, more efficient, and flexible. In addition, they can help make the surfaces of a device water-repellent.

The research group is also studying questions such as how light can alter the structure and characteristics of materials. The research has plenty of potential applications. It can be utilised in the manufacture of extremely small microcircuits, for example.

Vapaavuori's work is guided by design thinking and the optimal utilisation of resources. In producing multifunctional materials, the entire life cycle of the final product must be taken into consideration. The production should not involve excessive use of energy or unsustainable raw materials.

‘If we can add a feature to the materials that makes the final product more efficient, it is worth implementing. On the other hand, it would not make sense to add new features that consume more energy than the final product would deserve’, Vapaavuori says.

Born in 1985, Vapaavuori has achieved considerable scientific breakthroughs. For example, in 2015 she developed a brand-new method for measuring the effects of light on certain types of polymer materials. The phenomenon was not well understood before, for which reason the method developed by Vapaavuori is of international significance.

‘The young researchers awarded by our foundation each year are excellent scientists, and Jaana Vapaavuori is no exception. Vapaavuori's special achievement is that she is the coming director of the Aalto University Multidisciplinary Materials platform. To solve challenging problems we need platforms like these that utilise the skills and knowledge of researchers of different fields’, says Johanna Lamminen, chair of the board of the Finnish Foundation for Technology Promotion, explaining the foundation's choice for this year's Young Researcher of the Year.

Bacteria factories and soft robots

Tailored molecules and materials could revolutionise the chemicals industry, move fabrics and make solar panels more ecological.

Read more
Jan Deska, Jaana Vapaavuori, kuva: Jaakko Kahilaniemi
  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Related news

Photo: Mikko Raskinen.
Research & Art Published:

Online training helps quantum researchers get new tech from the laboratory into commercial products

The idea for commercialization starts from the researcher's own skills and knowledge, but interest in entrepreneurship is much greater if the path from an idea to a product is clearly visible.
Aalto University
Research & Art Published:

Installation Talks of seven new tenured professors of the School of Engineering

Our new Associate & Full level tenure track professors tell us about their research on short videos.
Tenured Professors' Installation Talks - Wojciech Solowski
Research & Art Published:

Professor Wojciech Sołowski discusses challenges of storing nuclear waste

How to design nuclear waste repository to be safe for the next million years? Professor Wojciech Sołowski discusses the properties and modelling of bentonite in his installation talk.
Network for Business Sustainability logo
Research & Art Published:

Jouni Juntunen nominated to Network for Business Sustainability Sustainability Centres Community (SCC) Advisory Board

Jouni Juntunen has been nominated to Network for Business Sustainability Sustainability Centres Community (SCC) Advisory Board for a three year period starting from 2021.