Research group of material technologies

Scientific- and technological competence

Our research covers the development of oxide materials with different morphologies (incl. micro,- meso- and macroporous oxide foams), biodegradable polymers,  functional hydrogels and electro-optical composite materials. Additionally, we have an ongoing project for developing novel plant growth substrates. We work with biogenic materials, both from animal and plant origin (gelatin, cellulose, chitosan, etc.). Chemical, physical and morphological modification of bio-based substances can be used to make various shape materials (fibrous nonwovens, sponges, foams, coatings, etc.) that can have applications ranging from medical implants to agriculture.

Some examples of the developed materials

  • A novel type of fuel tablet that consists of silicon oxide (sand) and an alcohol that is trapped in the nanopores of an oxide. This material burns cleanly, exhibits high heat of combustion, is easy to ignite and can be used for heating food and water during camping and for fast and efficient lighting of a campfire or barbecue. Lab-scale development finished, TRL 6-7. Patent pending.
  • We have developed a number of novel methods for preparing meso- and macroporous oxide materials with different morphologies that exhibit density, thermal conductivity and porosity similar to aerogels – two distinctly different methods for coating surfaces with porous oxide layers (opened and closed porosity), novel method for preparing silicone foams and a novel fast and simple method  for preparing silica aerogel granules (patent pending).
aerogeel graanul
  • Electrospun gelatin fiber mats. Gelatin can be stabilized by using different methods, in order to obtain non water-soluble material. Fiber mats can be obtained from gelatin by using electrospinning method. The obtained material appears similar to paper or cotton wool, has similar microstructure as animal tissue and stabilized gelatin mats are usable in biomedicine as cell growth substrates.  
  • Nanowire suspensions that change optical properties in the electric field.

Combustion of sol-gel derived alcogels offers a novel route for preparation of aerogel-like oxide foams.

Scientists from the University of Tartu made static electric charge visible.

Seeing static with zinc oxide nanowires.



Women in Physics - Laboratory of Theoretical Physics

Women in physics - Laboratory of Theoretical Physics of University of Tartu


Toomas Plank to continue as Director of the Institute of Physics