Controlled collisions at a nanoscale

Hydrophobic surfaces are efficient materials to use for instance for packaging purposes. Frida Iselau industrial PhD student at Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Kemira/AkzoNobel has been studying the fundamental principles of a technique called “Surface sizing”, a method for creating hydrophobic, and thereby more water resistant, paper materials by applying hydrophobic nanoparticles on the paper surface.

What can you tell us about your research and results?

For packaging purposes a paper material needs to be hydrophobic in order to withstand water and moist exposure during transportation and storage. In my research I have shown that it is important to control the colloidal behaviour of the particles in order to get an efficient process and this knowledge can be used for a more knowledge-driven product development in the future. Some parts of my research has already been implemented, both in the particle synthesis process and in the application.

You are an industrial PhD student at Kemira and AkzoNobel. How is that compared to be only in academia?

I started as an industrial PhD student at AkzoNobel, but two years after I’ve started my PhD studies the Paper Chemicals division at AkzoNobel was divested to the Finnish chemical company Kemira! Fortunately Kemira found my PhD project interesting and it was no problem for me to continue my project. Actually the global R&D Manager Heidi Fagerholm at Kemira is engaged in my project as a steering group member. So I’m not a typical industry PhD student, but the main difference when I compare with only academia is the advantage to have two work places with great competences in different areas. At Chalmers I have access to advanced instrumentation and very skilled people within chemistry and at the company I have access to more specialized equipment and the experience from my colleagues within my research field.  

How has your collaboration with SuMo BIOMATERIALS been? What help have you gotten from the centre?

Romain Bordes has been my supervisor since 2014. He has been very supporting and a great driving force for my project. My main collaborations have been with Aleksandar Matic (Chalmers), Tuan Phan Xuan (Chalmers) and Mark Nicholas (AstraZeneca). Aleksandar, Tuan and I have two publications together and their expertise within scattering have contributed much to my project. Mark Nicholas is an expert in ToF-SIMS and we have utilized this technique to reveal how the particles are distributed on and in a paper sheet and we have shown that this correlates to the degree of hydrophobization. Another interesting interaction was with StoraEnso. Chris Bonnerup was the opponent of my Licentiate Thesis. Moreover I have had collaborations with Annika Altskär and Erich Schuster and the SuMo seminars and conferences have been very rewarding as well.

What are your plans for after your thesis defence?

After the defence I will stay at Chalmers for a couple of months, finalize some manuscripts. After that I don’t know, if I want to continue within Kemira I would have to move to Helsinki but as for now I would prefer to stay in the Göteborg area. 


Image: Kemira 

Published: Thu 02 Nov 2017.