Less can be more, thanks to nanotechnology
New technological solutions for sustainable development, climate change and materials sufficiency can be found in natural sciences.
Nanotechnology has been a determining factor in the career of Jarkko J. Saarinen, Professor of Materials Chemistry and Technology.
“My research career started with a focus on light and nanostructures for photonics, and later expanded to paper and materials technology. In my current professorship, I’m able to make use of all my expertise”, Saarinen says.
Earlier, Saarinen worked as Associate Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Eastern Finland, and before that, as a researcher at Åbo Akademi University, focusing on paper-based products and nanoparticle coatings. Saarinen has two doctorates: one from the University of Joensuu in 2002, and the other from Åbo Akademi University in 2020, which he completed alongside working there.
“Thanks to nanotechnology and the circular economy, it is possible to create well-being with considerably smaller material flows than before.”
According to Saarinen, sustainable materials play an important role in the university’s new Master’s degree programme in technology. The programme will combine synthetic and natural materials and improve, among other things, the circular economy of plastics.
“My own research focuses on light-driven catalysis, or photocatalysis. For example, the hydrogen economy is developing rapidly, and novel structures will help to make better use of sunlight in energy production. We have just launched a new, Academy of Finland funded research project into photocatalysis.”
Language skills are important to a natural scientist, too
Ever since high school, Saarinen had been fascinated by the idea of living in Canada. His dream came true in the early 2000s, when we worked as a post doc researcher in Toronto.
“Toronto was a nice and welcoming place, and I quickly made new friends both from my research group and my hobby circles. A major benefit of my years in Toronto was becoming very fluent in English. Nowadays, for example, the majority of our advanced courses are taught in English, since we have a lot of international students. In addition, for a hockey enthusiast like myself, Toronto was a great city,” Saarinen says.
“Working as a post doc researcher is a great time in one’s career, because it is possible to focus on doing research full-time.”
After Toronto, Saarinen started working as a researcher at UPM, as the company was launching new research into nanotechnology.
“When I started at UPM, I had no experience in the paper industry. However, I know from my doctoral thesis that I’m able to grasp new things quickly. Basically, you learn what you do.”
After UPM, Saarinen spent ten years at Åbo Akademi University in Turku.
“Growing up in Lappeenranta, eastern Finland, I never thought that I’d have any need for skills in Swedish. However, my years at Åbo Akademi University proved me wrong. Language skills play an important role in the life of a natural scientist, too,” Saarinen says.
Saarinen spent the winter 2011–2012 as a visiting researcher at Hokkai-Gakuen University in Sapporo, Japan. The country made a great impression on him.
“I have visited Japan more than 10 times over the years. The country has an old, distinguished culture. Life is easy there when everything is functional, clean, polite and safe. You can leave Japan, but Japan never leaves you,” he says, laughing.
On his free time, Saarinen likes to watch sports, and he also reads and does exercise. Besides hockey, he’s keen on American football.
Saarinen has a clear message to those thinking about their future studies: natural sciences is a good choice, since there is a growing demand for experts in the field.
“Natural sciences has nano-scale understanding of how things work. By combining nanotechnology with the circular economy, we can find solutions for a sustainable future,” he believes.
For further information, please contact:
Jarkko J. Saarinen, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 442 2596
Jarkko J. Saarinen, Professor of Materials Chemistry and Technology, 1 January 2022–
Doctor of Science, Åbo Akademi University, 2020
PhD, University of Joensuu, 2002
Associate Professor, Materials Chemistry, University of Eastern Finland, 2018–2021
Senior Researcher, Paper Technology, Åbo Akademi University, 2008–2017
Visiting Researcher, Paper Optics, Hokkai-Gakuen University, Sapporo, Japan, 2011–2012
Nanotechnology Researcher, UPM Research Centre, 2006–2008
Postdoctoral Researcher, Photonics, University of Toronto, Canada, 2003–2006
Researcher, Nanoparticle Dispersion Theory, University of Joensuu, 2000–2003
Title of Docent in Nanotechnology, Åbo Akademi University, 2016–
Title of Docent in Nano-Optics, LUT University, 2005–