FibRe and Treesearch online seminar series

Welcome to join us in an online seminar series together with the Vinnova competence center FibRe! You can register for each seminar to join the webinar or tune in the live-stream on Treesearch’s YouTube channel.

Next seminar December 6:
Seminar postponed. New date will be announced shortly .

Dr. Paul Langan, Institut Laue Langevin (ILL)

Neutrons enable new discoveries in biomass research

Neutron scattering has been developed and applied over the years at advanced reactor and accelerator based user facilities as an important tool for studying biomass. The exceptional properties of neutrons provide unique insight into structure, dynamics and function that is complementary to information provided by other experimental techniques that are based on the use of photons and electrons. This improved understanding has underpinned advances in our use of biomass and its constituent components in new technologies and applications. To illustrate the potential of neutrons to impact biomass research in the future, I will describe some examples of their current and previous application to solving some important problems in biomass research

Paul Langan is Director General of the Institut Laue Langevin, a premiere international research center operating a nuclear reactor that provides intense beam of neutrons for basic and applied research. Over the years the ILL has made several stellar scientific contributions and will be positioned to enable wholly new types of exciting experiments on completion of a major upgrade of its research capabilities within two years. Those capabilities include neutron scattering, isotope production, nuclear and particle physics, materials irradiation, and theory.

Prior to the ILL, Paul was an Associate Laboratory Director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with responsibility for leading the operation and development of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) user facilities. Oak Ridge played a major role in the early application and development of neutron scattering to materials research at the world’s first reactor-based neutron sources. Today, the capabilities of the SNS and HFIR are broad and include neutron scattering, isotope production, accelerator research, neutrino physics, materials irradiation, fundamental particle physics, gamma irradiation and materials activation analysis.

In earlier career Paul was involved in construction of novel neutron scattering capabilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and led several research teams to address scientific challenges in areas including bioenergy, bioengineering, cell signalling and rational drug design. Other assignments in Biology, Chemistry and Physics have included various joint faculty positions as Professor at Universities, editorial positions in journals, leadership positions in professional organizations, and leadership of multiple research projects at National Laboratories in the US.

Paul received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Physics from Edinburgh University and then a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Keele University. Paul’s major areas of research interest and impact have been in structural biology, biomass and bioenergy, computational methods and the development of new technologies and methods for X-ray and neutron scattering.

The Vinnova competence center FibRe started 2020 and is one of the largest research initiatives on new materials from the forest in Sweden. In FibRe, the partners from academia, industry and public sector combine their expertise to develop thermoplastic lignocellulose-based materials and the needed competence with specific focus on 

1) modification
2) advanced characterization
3) processing. 

All seminars are available to watch afterwards at Treesearch’s YouTube channel, where you also can find more other research seminars

Previous presentations in the FibRe and Treesearch online seminar series

Dr. Katja Heise, Aalto University

Cellulose nanocrystals - from spatioselective modifications to advanced molecular analysis by solution-state NMR spectroscopy.

October 25, 2022

Dr. Katja Heise is an expert in biopolymer modification and her current research lies at the interface of (nano)cellulose chemistry and material characterization. She received her PhD in 2017 from TU Dresden (Germany) under the supervision of Prof. S. Fischer. As an independent Academy of Finland postdoc, affiliated to Aalto University (Espoo, Finland) and the group of Prof. Eero Kontturi (Materials Chemistry of Cellulose), she is currently a guest scientist at the Institute for Electronic and Sensor Materials (IESM), at TU Freiberg in Germany. This collaboration aims at integrating biopolymeric nanomaterials into advanced material applications in membranes and sensors.


Prof. Daniel Söderberg, KTH

How mechanisms controlling macroscopic fibre suspensions impact nanofibrillar systems​

September 20, 2022

Professor Daniel Söderberg’s main focus is to develop an understanding of the physical phenomena and mechanisms used by nature and to find means of applying this knowledge for developing new and improved industrial processes and materials for society. As a starting point, bio-based components are used, as the smallest constituents of wood fibres: cellulose nanofibrils. The goal is to develop new processes that not only work in a lab environment but can also be scaled for industrial production of new high-performance bio-based materials.

Dr Paavo Penttilä, Aalto University

X-ray and neutron scattering studies of wood nanostructure and moisture interactions

June 14, 2022

Dr. Paavo Penttilä is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow and the leader of the “Biobased materials structure” research team at Aalto University, Finland. He finished his PhD in materials physics at the University of Helsinki in 2013, and spent in total 4.5 years as postdoc at Kyoto University, Japan, and Institut Laue-Langevin, France. Dr. Penttilä’s research evolves around the application of X-ray and neutron scattering on studying the nanoscale structure of wood and other biobased materials. He is the developer of the “WoodSAS” model for analyzing small-angle scattering data from wood. Most recently, his work has focused on the role of water in the wood cell wall.ä

Professor Daniel Cosgrove, Penn State University

Relating cell wall structure to cell wall mechanical properties: experiments and modeling

April 5, 2022

Professor  Daniel Cosgrove studies the mechanism of plant cell growth, with a focus on the structure of extensible plant cell walls and the mechanisms by which they stretch irreversibly during growth. His group discovered a group of wall-loosening proteins named ‘expansins’ that are central to plant growth. Cosgrove and collaborators use biophysical, molecular and genomic approaches to understand the molecular activities of expansins, as well as their biological functions and their evolution. He is the founding Director of the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation, an Energy Frontiers Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy since 2009, a coordinated effort by 16 research groups in seven universities and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The center’s mission is to develop a nanoscale understanding of cellulosic cell walls, the energy-rich structural material in plants, forming the foundation for new technologies in sustainable energy and novel biomaterials.  Following his undergrad and grad studies at the University of Massachusetts and Stanford University, he went to Germany and Seattle for research visits before joining  the Biology Department at polysaccharides.

Professor Herbert Sixta, Aalto University

Advances in Ioncell technology for the sustainable production of textile and technical fibers

February 8, 2022

Professor Herbert Sixta has 30 years of experience in industrial research on pulp and cellulose chemistry. The scope was extended to biorefineries after his research career started in 2007 at Aalto University. Prof. Sixta’s core interest comprises the use of tailored ionic liquids for the selective dissolution of different biopolymers as a novel way of biomass fractionation. In material science the focus is laid on the development of high added-value cellulose material regenerated from ionic liquid solution as well as the synthesis of building block chemicals by heterogeneously catalyzed conversion routes from polysaccharides.

Associate Prof. Emily Cranston, UBC

Advances (and Challenges) in the Surface Modification of Cellulose Nanocrystals

December 7, 2021

Dr. Emily D. Cranston is an Associate Professor in Wood Science/Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia (Canada) and is the President’s Excellence Chair in Forest Bioproducts. Prior to 2019, she was an Associate Professor at McMaster University and Canada Research Chair in Bio-Based Nanomaterials. Emily’s research focuses on the colloid and surface chemistry of sustainable nanocomposites and hybrid materials from (nano)cellulose and other biopolymers. Her work attempts to bridge gaps between industrial producers of nanocellulose and potential end users by exploring fundamentals.

Emily received both her degrees from McGill University, an Honors BSc in Chemistry (2001) and a PhD in Materials Chemistry (2008) in the group of Professor Derek Gray. The study of value-added products from cellulose took her to Stockholm, Sweden as a postdoctoral researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology before she returned to Canada in 2011. Emily has published over 120 scientific papers and reviews and has trained 90 researchers. She was awarded the KINGFA Young Investigator’s Award (2016) and the Kavli Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lectureship (2018) from the American Chemical Society. In 2021, Emily received the TAPPI Nano Technical Award, the La Sueur Memorial Award from the Society of Chemical Industries of Canada and an E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship (awarded to six early stage academic researchers nationally) from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Read more about the research at


Dr. Benjamin Watts, PSI

Soft X-ray Spectroscopy and Microscopy of Organic Materials

October 12, 2021

Benjamin Watts is a beamline scientist at the PolLux scanning transmission soft X-ray spectro-microscope (STXM) specialising in the materials analysis of soft matter. He obtained a BSc (Professional) in Physics, with Honours, and a PhD in Physics from the University of Newcastle, Australia, before working as a post-doctoral researcher with North Carolina State University (permanently stationed at the Advanced Light Source, Berkeley) in the USA and then moving to PSI. Details of the interactions between soft X-ray light and organic materials has been a continuing theme throughout both his university research and later career.

The core of Benjamin Watts’ research involves the use of soft X-ray spectroscopy and microscopy of organic materials, especially near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS or XANES) spectroscopy at the carbon K-edge and scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM). C K-edge NEXAFS  provides spectral fingerprints corresponding to types of molecular bonding present in the sample material and so allows differentiation between organic materials based on their molecular structure. X-ray microscopy techniques such as STXM can then utilise this spectroscopy as a contrast mechanism to create quantitative nanoscale maps of materials properties such as  composition, molecular conformation and mass density. Of particular interest is the imaging  of nano-structures in conjugated polymer based electronic devices, such as OLED’s and polymer solar cells, which are creating revolutions in the digital display and energy industries. Benjamin Watts also has strong interest in developing novel data analysis methods, improved data collection and storage formats, and the programming of data analysis tools with graphical user interfaces, which each represent key facets of the dissemination of knowledge.

Read more at the PSI webpage

Prof. Denis Rodrigue, Univversité Laval

Surface treatment of lignocellulosic fibres for polymer composite applications

May 4, 2021

Denis Rodrigue obtained a B.Sc. (1991) and a Ph.D. (1996) in chemical engineering from Université de Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, Canada) with a specialization in non-Newtonian fluid mechanics. In 1996 he moved to Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada) where he is now full professor. Since then, he has been an invited professor at the University of Guadalajara (Mexico), the Technical Institute of Karlsruhe (Germany), the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), the University of Arts and Sciences of Hunan (China), the Technical University of Lodz (Poland) and the University François Rabelais of Tours (France).

His main research areas are in the characterization and the modelling of the morphological / mechanical / thermal / rheological properties of polymer foams and composites based on thermoplastics and elastomers. His main focus is related to polymer recycling and rheology.

He is the co-editor of two international journals:

  • Current Applied Polymer Science
  • Journal of Cellular Plastics

and a member of the editorial board of three others:

  • Applied Sciences, Section Materials
  • Cellular Polymers
  • Elastomery

Prof. Hiroyuki Yano, RISH, Kyoto University

NCV: nano cellulose vehicle and CNF materials for structural application

April 13, 2021

Hiroyuki Yano is a Professor at the Research Institute of Sustainable Humanosphere (RISH) at Kyoto University. His research involves extraction of nanofibers from biomass resources and their utilization as a component of nanomaterials for optical and structural purposes. In 2016 he received the prestigious  Honda Prize for his Contributions to the Development of a High-efficiency Production Method of Cellulose Nanofiber, Its Application to Products, and the Enhancement of Its Potential for Further Utilization  (shared with professor Akira Isogai).

Professor Yano is a project leader in the NCV Project where 22 Japanese research actors and manufacturers joined together with support from the Japanese government to make Nano Cellulose Vehicles

Prof. Orlando Rojas, UBC

Opportunities for using lignin in supramolecular and colloidal structures​

March 16, 2021

Professor Orlando Rojas received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University (1998), USA, followed by an appointment as Senior Researcher in the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the Institute for Surface Chemistry, YKI, both in Stockholm. Currently, Prof. Rojas is a Canada Excellence Research Chair in University of British Columbia. In this condition he is the Director of the Bioproducts Institute and shares affiliation with three departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Wood Science. Part of his research group (Bio-based Colloids and Materials) also operates in Aalto University, Finland, where he is visiting professor.

Prof. Rojas received the Anselme Payen Award, established by the American Chemical Society in 1962, the highest recognition in the area of cellulose and renewable materials. In addition, Prof. Rojas is an elected as Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2013), the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (2017) and recipient of the Tappi Nanotechnology Award (2015). He is adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of NCSU.

Prof. Rojas was chair of Aalto’s Materials Platform and leads a national competence center to advance the Finnish materials bioeconomy, the FinnCERES Flagship.  He was co-PI of the Academy of Finland’s Center of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials Research, HYBER. His most recent research grants include the prestigious European Research Commission Advanced Grant (ERC-Advanced) and a Horizon H2020 project, among several others.

During his career he has advised 41 postdoctoral fellows, 56 PhD and 36 MS students. He has also hosted 115 international visiting scholars and professors (2 months to two years). With a h-index of 72 (Google Scholar), he has authored about 410 peer-reviewed papers and a larger number of conference contributions related to the core research, mainly dealing with nanostructures from renewable materials and their utilization in multiphase systems.

Prof. Mikael Hedenqvist, KTH

Atomistic simulations of polymers

February 2, 2021

Professor Mikael Hedenqvist is head of the Polymeric Materials division, KTH, and Editor-in-chief for Polymer Testing. He is the co-author of the recently published textbook: Fundamental Polymer Science (Gedde and Hedenqvist) Springer Nature. His research interest includes processing and properties of synthetic and biobased polymers, modelling of polymers and transport/barrier properties of these.

More information and publication list at >> 

Prof. Ingo Burgert, ETH. Zürich

Chemical and Physical Modification of Wood Materials at Different Structural Levels

December 1, 2020

Ingo Burgert is Professor for Wood Materials Science, at the Institute for Building Materials in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering ETH Zürich. Professor Burgert’s research focus is on the nanostructural and micromechanical characterisation of wood and fibre composites and their modification in order to optimise material properties. For this purpose Professor Burgert and his group analyse and transfer principles and mechanisms that can be found in nature to technical applications (biomimetic, bio-inspired materials).


Adjunct prof. Tomas Larsson, KTH

Chemical and structural methods to characterize isolated cellulose

November 3, 2020

Tomas Larsson is Adjunct Professor at KTH and his research focuses on nano-structure characterization of soft materials. He is one of the leading experts on solid state NMR and X-ray scattering techniques in the area. 

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