Laboratory of electronic structure and laboratory of microtomography 

Experimental research was carried out with an active use of synchrotron radiation laboratories, most notably European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and MAX-Lab. Outstanding results were also obtained with the in-house x-ray scattering and microtomography equipment. The highlight of the year was a study where evolution was simulated in mouse teeth by manipulating signaling molecules to perturb differentiation. The study was done in collaboration with the Institute of Biotechnology (UH) and international partners. X-ray microtomography was used to document the development of mouse teeth to various forms.

Other studies at the microtomography laboratory were conducted on meteorites, bentonite clays, cartilage, and small animal morphology. Entirely new openings were also made. For example, the recycling potential of microelectronics products was investigated, as well as was pre-historical human teeth. More long-term storage capacity was installed and new control software for automated scanning in the diffraction tomography was obtained.

Studies of cellulose and other natural polymer based materials were continued in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry (UH), Faculty of Pharmacy (UH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Uppsala University. The structures of bacterial S-layer proteins and liposomes were studied using small-angle x-ray scattering in co-operation with the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Veterinary Biosciences. Erosion of bentonite was examined in co-operation with the Department of Chemistry within the Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Waste Management.

Inelastic x-ray scattering spectroscopy experiments at ESRF included in situ characterization of zeolite-activated catalysis of hydrocarbons, dimerization reactions in organic acids, and measurements of the electron screening dynamics in transition metal oxides.

Electronic structure and radiation-matter interaction in advanced materials and molecular systems were modeled by computational methods. New insight was obtained when excitations in molecules, clusters and liquids, were modeled as resonantly and non-resonantly triggered. One thesis was defended regarding microscopic structures in aqueous solutions with significant computational insights. Molecular systems of atmospheric importance were intensively studied with the aim of X-ray characterization. For crystalline materials, state-of-the-art atomic and electronic structure calculations were continued for photovoltaic, layered transition metal, and energy-related materials. Important steps were made in combining atomistic approaches to periodic systems in order to analyze resonant X-ray spectroscopic data. These advances pave way to the utilization of upcoming novel ultrabrilliant X-ray sources.


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Figure 1. Evolution was simulated by manipulating signaling molecules in the development of mouse teeth. The developed dental structures were studied by x-ray microtomography. E. Harjunmaa et al. Replaying evolutionary transitions from the dental fossil record. Nature 512, 44 (2014). Related Nature News & Views article: Z.-X. Luo, Evolution: Tooth structure re-engineered, Nature 512, 36 (2014).