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SolarSafe: Light-mediated self-sterilizing composite cellulosic materials

Updated: Jan 16

The growth of multiresistant organisms (MROs) and infections caused by them are a pressing problem in hospitals, especially during natural disasters or pandemics, where access to single-use sterile materials or personal protective equipment might be restricted. Therefore, the development of selfsterilizing, yet biodegradable, materials that do not rely on power supply are urgently needed. Photodynamic inactivation (PDI) is a powerful medical technology relying on the light-mediated generation of reactive oxygen species, which can be harnessed to inactivate various MRO. On this basis, SolarSafe aims to develop photoactive cellulosic materials, based on the preparation of composite films that merge the photoinactivation properties of organic photosensitizers and the mechanical properties and biodegradability of the cellulosic support. This project aims to set the knowledge for materials preparation to be further scaled up and commercially exploited.

Main results

  • Sustainable and upscalable production of dyes via new synthetic solid-state method

  • Conjugation of photosensitizers with nanocellulose and linkers were achieved and characterized

  • Photoactivity and antibacterial activity demonstrated

Publications (see also the links at the end of the page)

  • Savolainen, A. (2023). Synthesis and characterization of amine-functionalized cellulose nanofibres for developing antimicrobial materials, Master's thesis, Aalto University.

  • Langerreiter, D., Kostiainen, M. A., Kaabel, S., & Anaya-Plaza, E. (2022). A Greener Route to Blue: Solid-State Synthesis of Phthalocyanines. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, 61(42), [e202209033].

Research Project Managers

Other team members

Project status

The project has been funded by FinnCERES 2021-2022.

The topic has been granted funding from Magnus Ehrnrooth foundation as well as from Aalto University for Daniel Langerreiter, doctoral student at Aalto, to further develop sustainable synthesis of cellulose based self-sterilizing materials via solid-state reactions. Daniel has also received a FinnCERES GoGlobal grant to visit IQS School of Engineering, Universitat Ramon Llull (Barcelona, Spain) to conduct photodynamic inactivation measurements of the cellulosic hybrid material.

Eduardo Anaya-Plaza and Sandra Kaabel have received the 2022 Aalto CHEM Research Act of the year award for their work and for their successful transition from a senior postdoc to junior PI. Read more at


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