Atmospheric aerosols – Master’s project of Nieves Flores March

This week, Nieves Maria Flores March successfully defended her Master’s thesis named the “Organic Constituents of Atmospheric Aerosols in a Hemi-boreal Forest” and was awarded the highest grade – “A”!

In this project (supervised by Prof. Heikki Junninen), Nieves studied the chemical composition of organic aerosols collected from an Estonian Hemi-boreal forest during winter, spring, and summer. This research is important because atmospheric aerosols play a significant role in climate change and human health. However, the impact of boreal forests is difficult to characterize because of the chemical diversity of aerosol samples. 

To get a better understanding of the chemical composition, Nieves applied two analytical methods – gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to the forests samples. For data analysis, she used a molecular networking technique to tentatively identify the possible compounds. She concluded, that the developed set of methods has great potential to perform fast screening of the chemical composition of atmospheric aerosols. 

The GC-MS and NMR analyses were performed in collaboration with our Chair of Analytical Chemistry and we are happy to say that this joint and fruitful project will also continue in the future. 

Congratulations to you, Nieves!


A chemist with a Master’s degree in law

A member of our Analytical Chemistry group – Riin Rebane – achieved something rare for a chemist. On the 26th of May, she earned a Master’s degree in law!

Her studies combined both law and chemistry with a focus on intellectual property law. This was also the case for the topic of her Master’s thesis:  Interpretation of patent claims in Europe on the example of chemistry patents.

The aim of the thesis was to investigate how patent claims are interpreted during patent application expertise as well as in courts in the European Union and in the markets important to Europe. After investigating the practices of many countries, Riin concluded that patent claims in patent offices are interpreted quite similarly. However, it was observed from analyzing the practices of national courts that patent claim interpretation in courts is much more inconsistent and causes a lot of uncertainty for patent applicants and owners. For example, it is very likely that a patent approved by the patent offices can be revoked in court or even more confusing, a court in France may revoke, but a German court may not.

Congratulations to you, Riin! We are glad, that your hard work has paid off 😊.

Successful Master’s defense about ValChrom software

Thesis: “Software Tool for Validation of Chromatographic Analytical Method” by Kodjovi Hippolyte-Fayol Toulassi

Kodjovi Hippolyte-Fayol Toulassi defending his thesis

The aim of the work was the development of the back-end for ValChrom software. It was jointly supervised by professor Marlon Dumas (Institute of Computer Science) and Koit Herodes and Asko Laaniste (Institute of Chemistry). Kodjovi successfully presented both the chemistry and computer science aspects of the thesis, gaining praise from the supervisors and the opponent.

The software

ValChrom is a software tool developed with the aim of easing the burden of analytical chemists at chromatographic method validation. In ValChrom the user chooses the validation approach (Kodjovi implemented 3 guidelines: ICH, EMA bioanalysis, and Eurachem) and software recommends a respective experimental plan.

After importing experimental results, ValChrom calculates results and generates a report. Feedback and suggestions are welcome at

From Advancements in Separation Technology to Fundamental Basicity Studies

This is the range of topics addressed on Aug 31, 2018 as PhD dissertations addressing these topics were defended at UT Institute of Chemistry by Sofja Tšepelevitš and Märt Lõkov.

Sofja Tšepelevitš (right on the photo) in her thesis titled Experimental studies and modeling of solute-solvent interactions evaluated and developed approaches for modeling intermolecular interactions in solutions and the resulting macroscopic solute properties. The applicability of the COSMO-RS method to modeling hydrogen bonding in solution was evaluated. COSMO-RS was also evaluated for its ability to predict solvent-solvent extraction. An interesting and novel issue addressed in her work besides conventional structure based property prediction was the possibility to predict liquid-liquid partitioning of solutes with unknown structure.

The thesis of Märt Lõkov titled Basicity of some nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon bases in acetonitrile is focused on obtaining high-quality basicity data (pKa data) of bases of most diverse families and rationalizing their behavior and revealing structure-basicity relationships. Nitrogen bases (N-heterocycles), phosphorus bases (halogen-substituted phosphanes) and carbon bases (substituted pentafulvenes) were included in the work.

Congratulations to both of you!

Bachelor’s and Master’s Defences 2018

Traditionally, in the first half of June, our bachelor and master students defend their theses. This year there were 3 masters students and 2 bachelor students from our group. Here is how the students described their theses.

Alo Rüütel “Synthesis of bambusuril macrocycles and investigation of their binding properties”, master’s defence
In my master’s thesis, I synthesized bambusuril macrocycles. These receptor molecules are very potent anion binders. Usually, molecular receptors do not function in water because they are not able to bind target molecules with sufficient strength. Some bambusuril derivatives are able to function in aqueous media, which makes them a very special type of macrocyclic receptors. It is possible to use these molecules as ionophores for anion selective electrodes.

Ernesto de Jesus Zapata Flores “Determination of free diisocyanates in polyurethane foam”, master’s defence
My thesis focused on the test of a proposed method to analyze free diisocyanates in polyurethane foams for two reasons, by one side those compounds can represent a danger if care is not taken when the foam is used, and by the other side, new legislation is more aggressive against those compounds. The method is a simpler alternative to achieve the derivatization of diisocyanates.

Andre Leesment “Gas phase acidity measurements of superacids using FT-ICR method”, master’s defence

My master’s thesis was based on gas-phase acidity measurements of some very strong acids. Such strong acids are widely used in organic synthesis as reactants and/or catalysts. The anions of such acids exhibit high stability, which makes the valuable components of contemporary energy storing devices. The obtained results allow us to work on expanding the self-consistent gas-phase acidity scale with acids stronger than the ones experimentally measured so far.


Lisett Kiudorv “Quantitative analysis of clay components using ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy”, bachelor’s defence
The main purpose of my bachelor’s thesis was to develop a method that enables quantitative analysis of clays using ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy combined with the chemometric partial least squares method. The developed method is quick and easy to use and reduces the required sample size to around a milligram. The dramatic decrease in sample size makes it possible to analyse samples from archaeology and art. The method was then used to analyse six archaeological samples including one of the oldest potteries found in Estonia and an Egyptian pottery, which holds a bird’s mummy.

Elisabeth Parman “Determination of pKa values of fluorocompounds in water using 19F NMR”, bachelor’s defence
The main aim of my bachelor’s thesis was to determine pKa values of fluorocompounds in water using 19F NMR. This method is not particularly commonly used, but it can be used to verify or disconfirm values that have been measured with different methods, especially in cases where the measurements with other methods are problematic. For example, the purity and accurate concentration of the measured compound need to be concerned for most of the methods, but with 19F NMR it is not problematic.