EUR 10 million to research on programmable materials


The Academy of Finland has selected the projects to be included in the Programmable Materials Research Programme (OMA). Funding is allocated to eleven research consortia and, additionally, to six international joint projects. The programme funding amounts to EUR 10 million for 2013–2017.

The grantees work at Aalto University, the Universities of Helsinki, Eastern Finland, Jyväskylä, Oulu and Tampere and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

The research programme had a two-stage call. The first stage attracted a total of 58 letters of intent; 30 applicants were invited to submit a full application.

Programmable materials represents a new, emerging field of research in which Finland can play a pioneering role. Programmable materials are composed of components that respond in a specific, programmed way to environmental stimuli and signals. Fields where programmable materials are expected to have practical applications include medicine, information technology, biotechnology, and energy technology. The programmable properties of different materials will develop with advances in fields such as nano- and biotechnology. 

Examples of projects that were granted funding within the OMA programme:

The project led by Markus Ahlskog (University of Jyväskylä) will develop programmable materials based on protein dependence on electric fields. The aim is to build devices, which are simultaneously capable of controlling the characteristics of molecules and measuring changes in protein function. This makes it possible to use the same device both as a sensor and as an actuator. The project will yield novel tools for diagnostic and electronic devices based on biomolecular function. The results are expected to generate new knowledge for the design of tools for controlled cellular and tissue engineering. The research is carried out at the University of Jyväskylä and Tampere University of Technology.

Lasse Murtomäki (Aalto University) will focus on designing a controlled and targeted drug delivery method. The method is based on lipid vesicles, liposomes, which contain metal nanoparticles in their walls. Upon shining light on liposomes, nanoparticles are heated up, causing fluidisation of the lipid wall and a consequent drug release from liposomes. Liposomes can be decorated with special targeting molecules, with which they are able to attach selectively on desired targets, such as cancer cells. The research is carried out in collaboration with the University of Helsinki.

The consortium led by Päivi Törmä (Aalto University) will develop new approaches to the fabrication of optically and magnetically active, multicomponent nanoassemblies. The methods and approaches are applicable to programmable assembly of nanostructures. One goal is to realise structures where the optical resonance frequency is programmed into the properties of the biomacromolecules used for the assembly of the structure. The project combines optics, magnetism, self-assembly and research of soft materials, as well as high-resolution microscopy.

Arto Urtti (University of Helsinki) heads a project that will optimise intracellular drug trafficking by controlling the release of drugs from nanocontainers. Changes in pH and ionic strength within the cell environment are used to control the appropriately timed and located drug release. This is expected to be a significant step towards more targeted and specific drug administration. The research is carried out in collaboration with Aalto University.

The international joint project led by Seppo Honkanen (University of Eastern Finland) will focus on developing novel glass materials for cost-effective fabrication of photonic components by using thermal electric field (TEF) imprinting. The concept of TEF imprinting is to imprint the image of a conductive stamp in the materials at a high enough temperature to activate ionic conductivity. The project partners are the Theoretical and Physical Chemistry Institute of Athens and St Petersburg State Polytechnical University.

In his project, Mircea Guina (Tampere University of Technology) will study novel approaches for fabrication and positioning of quantum dot (QD) structures as well as chemical functionalisation for optical control of the injection and transfer of charge into and between QDs. The goal is to point the way towards novel QCAs that can be written, clocked and read out optically without the need for electronic nano-micro interfaces; this could create a fully new paradigm for design, fabrication and addressing of logical circuitry. The project is an international collaboration with researchers from Switzerland (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) and Russia (Ioffe Physical Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg, and Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow).

More information: 

  • Programme Manager Anssi Mälkki, tel. +358 9 7748 8300, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Programme Manager Saila Seppo, tel. +358 9 7748 8335, firstname.lastname(at)


Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Manager Riitta Tirronen
tel. +358 9 7748 8369

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