Jean-François Boily


2008-present     Professor, Umeå University, Sweden
2004-2008          Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA
2000-2004          Post-doc ETH-Zürich, Switzerland
1999                      Ph.D. Umeå University, Sweden
1997                      M.Sc. McGill University, Canada
1994                      B.Sc. McGill University, Canada
(Extended Bio here)

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Reactions at mineral surfaces have shaped Earth’s ever-changing environments throughout geological times. They are of central interest for Atmospheric Chemistry, Biogeochemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Technology, as well as in the study of Space Chemistry.

My research activities are largely focused on inorganic chemical reactions at mineral surfaces, and connect scales of molecules, single mineral particles, to single macroscopic crystals.  I study phenomena as a fundamental as hydrogen bonding of water on mineral surfaces, to processes as intricate as ice nucleation/growth and photoelectrochemical water splitting.

Our approach is multidisciplinary, and we routinely blend experiment with theory. Main experimental approaches include vibration (FTIR, Raman, Sum Frequency Generation) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Electrochemical methods include Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) and Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM). Interpretations of laboratory observations are always assisted by molecular simulations (Molecular Dynamics, Density Functional Theory) of representative systems. Inorganic reaction mechanisms are then packaged into thermodynamic/kinetic models that can be used to predict atmospheric and geochemical processes.

Ongoing Research Projects

  • Photocatalytic and mineralogical transformation within thin water films (Tan Luong, Ph.D. student)
  • Water condensation and freezing on minerals (Merve Yeşilbaş, Ph.D. 2018 – soon going to
  • Interfacial chemistry of clay minerals (Jerry Lindholm, Ph.D. student)
  • Isotopic Fractionation of CO2 in minerals (Dmitry Shevela, Research Engineer). See Umeå Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory here!
  • Water condensation in unsaturated organic-mineral assemblages (under the User program of the Environmental Sciences Laboratory, PNNL)
  • Catalytic hotspots at mineral surfaces: Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (Veton Haziri, Erasmus Plus exchange Ph.D. Student)
  • Atmospheric ice nucleation (Allan Bertram, University of British Columbia)

A portion of these projects is currently funded by the Swedish Research Council.


Please visit the Umeå Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory for more information on our research and services!



Complete list of publications (1995-present)

Publications registered in DIVA (2008-present)