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Functional Hybrid Thin Films for Emerging Energy Technologies

Prof. Maarit Karppinen
Aalto University, Finland


Anjana Devi
Materials Research Department


Prof. Maarit Karppinen from Aalto University, Finland will start her first stint as a VIP at RUB starting January 2017.

Prof. Karppinen is an outstanding, internationally well known researcher in the field of “Layer Engineering” and “Oxygen Engineering” of Novel Functional Materials. Prof. Karppinen’s research group develops new functional hybrid materials by combining thin inorganic and organic layers with atomic/molecular level precision using the currently strongly emerging combined atomic/molecular layer deposition (ALD/MLD) technique which can be used to grow thin-film materials on different surfaces and nanostructures. She and her research team are exploring ground-breaking functional materials for frontier applications including novel oxide-based materials for high-Tc superconductors, thermoelectrics, multiferroics, spintronics and phosphors. In addition, oxide-based electrode and electrolyte materials are developed for fuel cells, batteries and sensors by her research team at Aalto, Finland. The combined MLD/ALD technique enables to design materials built-up from both inorganic and organic components, thereby taking advantage of the synergy effect of the two methods.

She has received many prestigious awards for her scientific excellence. In 2013 the European Research Council (ERC) awarded the “ERC-Advanced Grant” for the project “Molecular Layer Engineered Inorganic-Organic Hybrid Materials: (Project Acronym: LAYERENG-HYBMAT”; Call: ERC-2013-ADG; Panel PE5; Funding: 2, 4 million Euros; 2014 - 2019). In this LAYERENG-HYBMAT project she proposes to study a fundamentally new category of nanocomposite materials, that is, layer-by-layer grown coherent inorganic-organic hybrid materials where the cohesion between the layers is based on covalent bonding. Such materials are – once carefully designed and fabricated – able to display in a single material a tailored combination of properties of conventional inorganics and organics, and even beyond. In January 2016, once again, the European Research Council awarded her 150 000 Euros ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) funding to commercialize the ground breaking top level research results on thermoelectric materials. (Project Acronym: TES-Flex-Thin: Novel thermoelectric energy solutions based on flexible thin film materials; Call: ERC-2015-PoC).

Prof. Karppinen has been a “Visiting Professor” at Oregon State University, USA and holding several official professor positions at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. She has published around 400 peer-reviewed scientific publications, several book chapters and holds seven patents.

My first interaction with Prof. Karppinen was during the International ALD conference and we both have been also actively involved during the setting up the EU-COST action program MP1402 on ALD (HERALD: Hooking together European research in Atomic Layer Deposition) ( and started to collaborate. While my research group (Inorganic Materials Chemistry, IMC) at RUB has a strong expertise in inorganic materials synthesis with focus on precursor chemistry for developing thin film materials through CVD, ALD and ALD/MLD process, the group of Prof. Karppinen focuses mainly on the development of novel hybrid materials. Therefore, the collaborative research activities between the two groups from Bochum and Aalto are complementary to each other.

The first collaborative project between the two groups within the framework of the COST project “HERALD” (which deals with the networking of different ALD groups distributed all over Europe, towards a successful collaboration) was initiated in January 2016. This short-term science mission (STSM) was part of an internship of a Master student Mr. Lukas Mai from my group. The goal was to employ new rare earth precursors for the fabrication of hybrid organic-inorganic layers for luminescent applications. Moreover, one of my PhD students Mr. Maximilian Gebhard visited the group of Prof. Karppinen at Aalto University in early 2016 to evaluate the chances and opportunities for a possible stronger cooperation in the future.

During the forthcoming visits of Prof. Karppinen, she will be mentoring a couple of doctoral students in my group in the field of ALD/MLD as well as hold guest lectures on topics related to Materials Chemistry.


During her first visit in January 2017, Prof. Karppinen will be holding guest lectures which will be attended by Master and Doctoral students of Faculty of Chemistry and Biochemistry within the framework of the Ring Lecture: Introduction to Chemistry of Materials, Focal Point: Functional Materials.

The lectures are also open to members of the Research Departments of RUB that includes Materials Research Department, Interfacials Systems Chemistry and Plasma Research Department.

The first guest lecture will be held on 9th January 2016 at 14.00hrs in NC2/99
Title: THERMOELECTRIC ENERGY HARVESTING: Fundamentals and Conventional Thermoelectric Materials

The second guest lecture will be held on 11th January 2016 at 12.00hrs in NC3/99
Title: NANOENGINEERING for ENHANCED THERMOELECTRICS: ALD/MLD Fabricated Oxide-Organic Superlattices

Five most important recent Publications

  1. J.-P. Niemelä, A, Giri, P.E. Hopkins & M. Karppinen, Ultra-low thermal conductivity in TiO2:C superlattices, J. Mater. Chem. A 3, 11527 (2015).
  2. M. Nisula, Y. Shindo, H. Koga & M. Karppinen, Atomic layer deposition of lithium phosphorous oxynitride, Chem. Mater. 27, 6987 (2015).
  3. M. Nisula & M. Karppinen, Atomic/molecular layer deposition of lithium terephthalate thin films as high rate capability Li-ion battery anodes, Nano Lett. 16, 1276 (2016).
  4. E. Ahvenniemi & M. Karppinen, Atomic/molecular layer deposition: a direct gas-phase route to crystalline metal-organic framework thin films, Chem. Commun. 52, 1139 (2016).
  5. E. Ahvenniemi & M. Karppinen, In-situ atomic/molecular layer-by-layer deposition of inorganic-organic coordination network thin films from gaseous precursors, Chem. Mater. 28, 6260 (2016).