Material’s Properties Control

Underpinning Innovative Material Development

To develop highly functional materials, it is necessary to set appropriate targets and identify beneficial properties in a systematic manner. This is the role that we play in the process of material development. We bear an extremely important responsibility in making substances useful as materials.

Educational Program

In our program, based on undergraduate-level physics, physical chemistry, polymer physics science, inorganic property science, polymer chemistry and more, students come to understand the fundamental and principles of property expression of polymers and inorganic substances. To realize our educational objectives, we have structured the program to:

1. Help students obtain fundamental and applied skills and abilities to underpin innovative material development;
2. Cultivate student abilities in terms of research planning, experimentation, calculation, data analysis/examination, and other qualities necessary for conducting research; and
3. Equip students with the ability to explore and disseminate their research findings in their fields from a global perspective.

Laboratory Information

Polymer Molecular Engineering Fibrous Material Science
We focus on designing materials mainly ranging from polymer microparticles to metal nanoparticles and understanding their properties and structures using unique methods. The ultrasound techniques developed in our laboratory can be used for examining the mechanical properties of microparticles in optically turbid suspensions in a non-contact fashion. Furthermore, we invent metals that flow and spread like liquids at room temperature, and they transform a variety of materials into thermal and electrical conductors and catalysts. In this way, our interests cover a wide range of fields from the synthesis to characterization of materials that include organic polymers and inorganic and metallic substances and are directed to opening a new avenue for the development of materials with new properties and functions.

Research themes: Nanomaterial design and structural dynamics analysis based on scattering methods
Keywords: Ultrasound scattering technique/Polymer microparticle/Noble metal nanoparticle/Polymer structure/Polymer chemistry and physics
One of the common features of materials called soft matter, including polymers, is the formation of ordered structures on a mesoscopic spatial scale. Soft matter often has a hierarchical structure, and its structure can be easily changed by changing pressure, temperature, concentration, etc. Therefore, it is expected as a new material that expresses a wide variety of physical properties by structural control. In our laboratory, we conduct basic research aiming to elucidate the relationship between structure and physical properties of soft matter, structure formation process, and phase transition phenomena by experiments mainly using methods such as X-ray diffraction, electron microscope, optical microscope, infrared absorption, thermal analysis, and computer simulation.

Research themes: Elucidation of structure formation mechanism of soft matter including polymers
Keywords: Soft matter/Polymer crystal/Structure formation/Glass transition/Computational science
Polymer Mechanics Textile Engineering Design
Our research aims to elucidate the physicochemical properties, mainly rheological (mechanical) properties, of polymeric soft materials, from elastomers, gels, and polymer blends to polymer composites. We seek to understand the correlations between the physicochemical properties and the internal structures of these materials. We investigate the mechanical behavior of polymeric soft materials using various techniques and instruments including a custom-built biaxial tensile tester. We develop microscopic and X-ray CT techniques to observe internal structures three-dimensionally, and methods to analyze the images. Our laboratory also studies various stimulus-response properties of liquid crystal elastomers, and the electric wave absorption and electrical conductivity properties of polymer composites to provide guidance for the creation of new functional materials and the improvement of their properties. Our research is focused on the electrorheological (ER) effect, where the mechanical behavior of fluids responds to an external electrical field, mainly in nano-particle dispersions and liquid crystals. We aim to develop new ER fluids, elucidate the mechanism of the ER effect, and apply the effect to control elements. To this end, we investigate the dispersion and aggregation of nanoparticles, nanofiber composite systems, and thin film composite membranes as well as the control of various properties. We also study the structures and mechanical properties of relatively light and strong fibrous materials, such as carbon fiber and aramid fiber. Currently, we are focused on finding a way to develop new high-strength, highly-fatigue-resistant fiber. Other ongoing research involves the use of a new solvent-free spinning method to create nanofiber and identify its new functions, the development of new plant-derived functional materials, and the elucidation and control of their properties.

Keywords: Electro-Rheology/Nano-Suspensions/Nano-Fibers/High strength fibers
Condensed Matter Physics Atomic and Molecular Science
Condensed matter physics is a science that studies the properties of substances. In our research, we measure physical quantities, such as heat capacity, permittivity, thermal expansion coefficients and density, when soft matter, such as liquid crystals, lipid membranes, proteins or molecular glass, undergoes a change in its state (phase transition, denaturation, glass transition, etc.). We then examine the change in structure during the state change with X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy to identify the fundamental properties of the state and state changes in soft matter to understand their causes. For use in these research investigations, we have developed various measuring instruments such as an ultra-high-sensitivity differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) that can detect minute changes in heat capacity and a simultaneous measurement device for high-sensitivity DSC and X-ray diffraction. Since the birth of the universe, atoms, molecules, substances, and even lives have been born through numerous “atomic collisions”. Our research focuses on the atomic collision process over a wide range of energy using quantum beams. The objective of our research is to understand the origins of the universe and the formation of the phenomena of the natural world as well as to create new substances by mimicking nature. Atomic collisions are also applied to modification and analysis of material surfaces. Ongoing research themes include 1) analysis of surface and interface structures through interactions between quantum beams and solids; 2) nanoscale solid surface modification and creation of new materials utilizing quantum beams; 3) collision dynamics of quantum beams; and 4) atomic spectroscopy with quantum beams.

Research themes: Materials surface modification and characterization by interaction of quantum beams with solids
Ceramic Physics Chemical Reactions in High Temperatures
Research in this laboratory is conducted by three different groups who work with biomedical, dielectrics, and semiconductor materials. The biomedical materials group primarily evaluates the quality of artificial joints and analyzes the impact that implant deterioration has on artificial joint components. The dielectric and semiconductor groups analyze microstructure and microresidual strain of functional materials in the electronics industry to develop more reliable electronic components with advanced functions. These groups use the latest technological devices, such as Raman and cathodoluminescent spectrophotometric analyzers, to analyze materials at the nanoscale level. This laboratory consists of undergraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students, creating a vibrant and active research environment over a range of research levels. Students from Europe and Asia represent a broad spectrum of values, making true internationalization another benefit of this research environment. Our laboratory researches the fabrication of electrical and optical ceramics, their properties, and the production of recycling of ceramics. Through our work on electrical ceramics, we search for the conditions necessary to lower the room-temperature resistivity of the positive temperature coefficient of resistivity (PTCR) materials which are used as overheating detectors and overcurrent protection elements in digital device circuits. We also develop environmentally friendly, lead-free, high-temperature PTCR materials. In research on optical ceramics, we investigate the effects of firing conditions and flux on the luminescence of long persistence phosphors. In research on recycled ceramics, we produce ultra-lightweight ceramics using materials from waste products, such as incinerated ash from sewage sludge and coal ash, with the aim of using them as practical functional materials, such as architectural heat insulating materials and water-retaining tiles.

Research themes: Fabrication of high Tc lead-free BaTiO3-(Bi0.5Na0.5)TiO3 PTCR materials
Keywords: Barium titanate semiconductor/High temperature PTCR/Lead-free