Professor Dr. Ivo Leito

Researcher. During his research career and during the last ten years he has been engaged in a wide variety of topics ranging from acidity-basicity and catalysis issues to mass spectrometry and from chemical metrology to cultural heritage. However, at the core of the research have always been accurate and reliable measurements, or to put it more specifically:

Accurate quantification of phenomena that are
not straightforward to accurately quantify.

In a number of the cases, the quantification has made use of scales and this has proved very fruitful. Examples:

  1. Acidity and basicity of molecules (pKa values) in non-aqueous solutions and in the gas phase.
  2. Acidity and basicity of bulk solutions.
  3. Ionization efficiency of molecules in electrospray ion source.
  4. Anion-receptor binding.

As a result of the data obtained and the trends revealed, our group is now able to predict and interpret the acidity and/or basicity of molecules in a wide selection of solvents (additionally involving computations, as needed), as well as the ionization efficiencies in electrospray source and anion-receptor binding.

The group routinely receives requests for measurement or prediction of different parameters. Studies of strong acids and strong bases have occupied a very important position in the research. In fact, it is the studies of acids and bases that have benefitted most from the scales approach and wide-ranging acidity and basicity scales (reaching high acidities and basicities) have been set up by the group. Thus, our group has ample experience in synthesis, characterization, and handling of (strong and very strong) acids. Furthermore, during the last five years, we have been increasingly engaged in studies of catalysts (both acid and base catalysis), mainly from the point of view of relations with acidity-basicity.

Group leader, supervisor. Ivo is constantly ranked among the most successful Ph.D. supervisors at our faculty and every year more Ph.D. and MSc candidates want to start working under his supervision than he can accept. As a result, the group is young and dynamic. He tries to give graduate students and postdocs a lot of freedom in exploring avenues that they find interesting and several of important achievements have resulted from this.

Educator. Ivo is active in enhancing teaching at the University of Tartu and beyond by using the high-level measurement competence described above. The highlights of this are two international master-level study programmes that have been launched under his leadership and where he is now programme director – Applied Measurement Science and Erasmus Mundus programme Excellence in Analytical Chemistry. The most recent development in measurement-related education has been setting up two online courses – Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis and LC-MS Method Validation, where up to now altogether more than 2000 people from all over the world have participated.

Manager. Under Ivo’s leadership the University of Tartu Testing Centre – a measurement-oriented R&D unit at UT – was re-established in the beginning of the 21st century. This opened for our group wide horizons in industrial collaboration, collaboration with European metrology organization (EURAMET) and participation in different international projects.