Welcome to the Molecular Geochemistry Laboratory

If chemistry is the central science, then geochemistry is the central science as applied to understanding the natural world around us.

Geochemists seek to answer questions relating to the evolution of life on Earth and how metalloenzymes may have evolved, the chemistry of the oceans and how they are affected by global warming, the interplay between flora, fauna and the environment in chemical terms, how pollutants interact with soils and minerals, and how radioactive waste can be securely stored for millennia. We do this by connecting the very big — mountains — with the very small — atoms and molecules, and the very fast — fundamental reactions — with the often very slow — weathering

If you share our passion for understanding and explaining how the world works — join us! To find out about opportunities in our laboratory, contact one of the group leaders: Erik BjörnJean-François BoilyMichael Holmboe, C. André Ohlin, Andrey Shchukarev, and Staffan Sjöberg.

New group focused on Planetary Geochemistry and Spectroscopy lead by Dr. Yeşilbaş

We are searching for one of the biggest quests in humanity: “Are We Alone?”. To resolve this, we are addressing the following questions:

Is there water on Mars?

What is the role of water in martian geochemical history?

How can we reveal the potential water resources for future human explorations on Mars?

Our research focuses on the geochemical changes of the planet Mars and alien oceans using spectroscopic techniques. We use martian analogue rocks and soils collected from the extreme environments on Earth to reveal the geochemical and climate history of Mars. We combine the laboratory data with martian orbit data, especially from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

If you would like to know more about ongoing research in our lab, you could watch this IceLab pitch link given by the group leader, Dr. Yeşilbaş.

Are you interested in joining the Yeşilbaş group? We currently offer a fully-funded PhD position for 4 years. You can apply through this link till May 24, 2022. Postdoctoral researchers are very welcome to discuss potential research topics and projects. We also have bachelor and master student projects available during the academic year. For all your questions and inquires, please reach out to Dr. Yeşilbaş via email (merve.yesilbas@umu.se).

Per aspera ad astra!🚀


PhD Student Position in the Yeşilbaş Group

PhD student position on the Role of Salts and Brines in Martian Geochemistry using spectroscopic techniques.

Is there water on Mars? What is the role of water in martian geochemical history? How can we reveal the potential water resources for future human explorations on Mars?

  • Diverse experimental work and using the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) data to understand the Martian mineralogy!
  • Fantastic infrastructure in Umeå (https://www.umu.se/en/chemical-biological-centre/kbc-scientific-infrastructures/) and collaborate with a number of  international research teams, including NASA
  • The great employment benefits in Sweden during your PhD (4-5) years (e.g., paid holiday leave, reimbursement of fitness and medical expenses as well as doctor visits during paid working hours)

If you would like to discover all these fascinating phenomena related to Mars, apply here before May 24, 2022.

Per aspera ad astra!🚀

2 new positions in the Björn group

Field sampling in Norwegian fjords and the Baltic Sea and diverse experimental lab work!
Join very active postdoc community in Umeå and global community in Hg science!
Apply here before 28th of February
Ph.D. position on methylmercury formation in biofilms!
Combined biogeochemistry and microbiology experimental lab work!
Join very active global community in Hg science!
Apply here before 11th of April


2 new positions in the Boily group

PhD and postdoc positions on Rust in Ice!
It’s a Molecular Geochemistry project!
Sweden’s a great place to do a PhD (4-5 years) and postdoc (2 years)!
Fantastic infrastructure (www.kbc.se) and great working conditions!
Links to the positions:
Application deadline is February 28.

3 new publications for the Boily group

These are from collaborations with:

1. Jonatan Klaminder (Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University)

Bottone A, Boily J.-F., Shchukarev A., Anderson P., Klaminder 2021. Sodium hypochlorite as an oxidising agent for removal of soil organic matter before micro plastics analyses. J. Env. Qual. 

2. Solomon Tesfalidet (Chemistry, Umeå University)

Haziri V, Phal S, Boily J.-F., Berisha A., Tesfalidet S. 2022. Oxygen interactions with covalently grafted 2D manometric carboxyphenyl thin films – An experimental and DFT study.  Coatings. 49.

3. Khalil Hanna (École National Supérieure de Chimie de Rennes, France)

Luo T., Xu J., Cheng W., Zhou L., Marsac R., Wu F., Boily J.-F., Hanna K. 2021 Interactions of anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drugs at mineral surfaces can control environmental fate and transport. Environ. Sci. Technol.



New grants in Fall 2021!

Erik Björn: 3.6 Mkr (Swedish Research Council) for a project on  methyl mercury in biofilms
Erik Björn: 3.0 Mkr (Formas) for a project on  methyl mercury in the sea
Jean-François Boily, Madeleine Ramstedt, Andrey Shchukarev: 10.0 Mkr (Kempe Foundation + Faculty of Science and Technology) for the acquisition of a new X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer
Jean-François Boily: 900 kkr (Kempe) for a postdoctoral project on iron in ice.
Merve Yesilbas: 4 Mkr (Swedish Research Council) for a project on cryosalts on planet Mars

Polyoxoniobates as molecular building blocks in thin films

Polyoxoniobates as molecular building blocks in thin films

in Dalton Transactions, 2021, 50, 16030-16038. Link

Mark Rambaran, András Gorzsás, Michael Holmboe, CA Ohlin.

Abstract: Niobium oxide thin films have been prepared by spin-coating aqueous solutions of tetramethylammonium salts of the isostructural polyoxometalate clusters [Nb10O28]6- , [TiNb10O28]7- and [Ti2Nb8O28]8- onto silicon wafers, and annealing them. The [Nb10O28]6- cluster yields films of Nb2O5 in the orthorhombic and monoclinic crystal phases when annealed at 800 °C and 1,000 °C, respectively, whereas the [TiNb10O28]7-  and [Ti2Nb8O28]8- clusters yield the monoclinic crystal phases of Ti2Nb12O29 and TiNb2O7 (titanium-niobium oxides) in different ratios. We also demonstrate a protocol for depositing successive layers of metal oxide films. Finally, we explore factors affecting the roughness of the films.

Computational exploration of substitution of polyoxometalates for identification of synthetic targets

Computational exploration of heterometal substitution into the decaniobate framework, [Nb10O28]6-

in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.202123, 10402-10408. Link

C. A. Ohlin

Abstract: The factors governing the substitution of group 4B–12B metals into the decaniobate framework are explored using density functional theory in order to ascertain whether (1) recently isolated [MNb9O28]x− clusters are kinetic or thermodynamic products, (2) density functional theory is a sufficient level of theory to accurately predict substitution patterns in polyoxometalates where ion pairing and other effects may operate, and (3) it can be used to guide future synthetic efforts. Computations using restricted, unrestricted and open-shell density functional theory at PBE0/def2-tzvp were found to correctly predict substitution patterns in known clusters, and were subsequently used to calculate the relative energies of a large series of [MNb9O28]x− clusters, to reveal trends and suggest potential synthetic approaches. OPBE/def2-tzvp correctly predicted favoured spin states of known substituted decametalates.