Gust. Komppa Award 2022
The Evaluation Board for the Gust. Komppa award convened 28.10.2022 to decide on the best doctoral dissertation in chemistry of 2021. Nominations for this award was requested all chemistry departments in Finland, and they had the possibility to nominate up to three candidates.
The Evaluation Board wants to acknowledge the high level of all nominated dissertations, and the works submitted reflected widely societal relevance. The final decision was deduced based on consensus within the Evaluation Board related to scientific broadness, mastering the methodologies used, focusing the presentation of the content and data involved, as well as readability and visuality of the presentation.
Finally, the Evaluation Board agreed that the Gust. Komppa Award 2022 for the best chemistry dissertation should be given to Doctor of Technology Tao Zou from Aalto University. The title of the Dissertation is “Lignin Nanoparticles: Understanding of their Properties and Modifications for Versatile Applications”.
The Dissertation work by D.Tech. Tao Zou deals with modifying Kraft lignins to lignin nanoparticles. The focus was to change the lignin from industrial side streams to fit the production of higher value end products. The research work deals with the effects of various solvents on the structure, reactivity, and chemical stability of lignin nanoparticles. Additionally, the research presented involve studies on the effects of covalent and non-covalent interactions on the modification possibilities of the lignin nanoparticles. This could open new horizons to expand the usability of these developed lignin nanoparticles.
The topic is the research is very timely and important, since substituting the common plastic-based technologies with bio-based technologies providing easily molded and durable materials is necessary for more sustainable developments in the society. One of the key aspects to reach this target is to understand the interactions between lignin nanoparticles and the solvents used in these technologies. This gives insights on the formation and applicability of such nanoparticles in various chemical environments. Especially, the research work by Zou address chemical structures, porousness, mechanical properties, wetting, swelling and overall chemical stability. These properties have been studied and scrutinized both with computational and experimental studies, which combines the modern scientific possibilities to study the research targets from many points of views. This also gives insights how such lignin nanoparticles can be tailored, modified, and adjust to required applications starting from the molecular level of the substances strived for. This gives new possibilities for the production, for example, of tailored packing materials.
The Evaluation Board wants to declare that it found the doctoral dissertation of D.Tech. Tao Zou is of high scientific level. It comprises of four high level scientific publications and one scientific manuscript. All these papers are targeted to leading journals in the field of the research performed. Moreover, the Evaluation Board wishes to note that the research presented highlight broad methodological competence and interaction within a network of research groups. This results to an extensive broad view on the research topics enabling to develop and analyse the studied lignin nanoparticles employing state-of-the-art methodology. This supported the Board’s views on the scientific quality and general impact of the research performed.
Thereby, the Evaluation Board unanimously propose that the Gust. Komppa Award 2022 should be granted to Doctor of Technology Tao Zou.