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Oulu university professor wins €100K Innovation Award for Women

Heli Jantunen invented a novel, low-temperature method for producing ceramic, microelectronic components.

Heli Jantunen
Professor Heli Jantunen, whose team invented a new method of producing ceramics that could change the face of electronics. Image: Oulun yliopisto

The Innovation Award for Women 2019 was handed to professor Heli Jantunen from the University of Oulu for her work in a field known as electroceramics.

The prize is given to Finnish women or groups of women who excel in their fields. The accolade includes a prize of 110,000 euros and awarded by Finnish Parliament. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Paula Risikko presented the award to Jantunen on Wednesday.

Jantunen's work is groundbreaking and said to be the first in the world to introduce the production of electroceramics at lower temperatures than was previously possible. Electroceramics are commonly used in products like conductors, inductors, resistors, capacitors and other applications.

However, until recently the production of electroceramics has required excessive amounts of heat to be integrated with electronic components. The method devised by Jantunen and her team enabled the production of electroceramics to be carried out at significantly lower temperatures.

Method already in use

The award process is handled by Technology Academy Finland (TAF), while parliament's chancellery commission selects the winner from the group of candidates.

"The use of Jantunen's method can reduce energy requirements to 15–30% of the amounts previously needed, which cuts the costs associated with production equipment - easing the process while also being more eco-friendly," TAF said in a press release.

"The production method has already been used successfully in making products like ceramic antennas."

The group said Jantunen's method now makes it possible to produce small-scale, local and energy-efficient electroceramics which will lead to new material and technological possibilities.

The award also commemorates the anniversary of universal suffrage on 1 June. The Innovation Award for Women was previously handed out in 2017 and 2018.

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