Message archive

Admiring stars/私の趣味

posted Jan 24, 2017, 3:48 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Jan 24, 2017, 3:54 PM ]

I love to “let others look at” stars.

The beginning of my interest in “looking at” stars was the astronomical telescope my grandfather bought for me when I was in the second year of junior high school. On the day the astronomical telescope arrived, I took it outside and tried to focus on the brightest star in the sky right away. It was really difficult for me to adjust the telescope at first. No sooner had I finally made it than I realized that the star had rings around it. It was Saturn. How pretty it was, I was amazed, and thought I saw something important. The time was probably about 8pm. I would have looked at the moon, if there had been the moon. Instead, Saturn was shining in the southeast. Just recently I checked with an astronomy simulation software and found out that was in mid October of 1968.

Saturn I saw that night surely ushered me into the world of stars later in my life. In 1968, a year prior to the first moon landing of the mankind, Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft which orbited the moon and returned safely to Earth. The spacecraft back from 380,000 km away reentered the atmosphere of Earth at a speed of 10km per second. They said the spacecraft must reenter the atmosphere in a certain angle with an allowable error range of 2degree. If the angle was deeper, the spacecraft would be burned down, and, if shallower, it would be bounced back. I remember I was so thrilled with the television coverage of Apollo 8.

As a child, I wondered if I could see the Apollo spacecraft orbiting the moon through my telescope. There is no way, definitely, for my telescope could only distinguish craters of 4km in diameter of the moon surface. Strange to say though, I felt like I was able to see the spacecraft. The actual moon through the telescope showed me something much more than what it looked, and that was so different from the moon in a photograph.

As I grew older, stars more and more intrigued me. I have been all the way to New Zealand to see the stars in the southern hemisphere, and to the tip of California Peninsula to see the total solar eclipse.

Now my friends and I hold star-viewing gatherings on a monthly basis at the Floating Garden Observatory on the top of the New Umeda Sky Building. We give a talk about stars which can be seen on the day, as well as some topics on astronomy or space. Three or four astronomical telescopes are brought to the venue. Most of the participants are so impressed and raise cheers to see stars and planets through the telescope for the first time in their life.

This is how I changed from just “looking at” stars on my own to “letting others to look at” stars.

The moon light we now see is in fact the light of the sun reflected 1.3 seconds ago. The actual photons departed from the moon surface come into our eyes through the telescope, stimulate the retinal cells, and convey the visual image to the brain. In this system, I believe, something happens more than just a visible image. I guess this somehow explains why the vision through the telescope fascinates the participants.

The light wavelength our eyes can detect is approximately from 400nm in blue to 700nm in red. Light, in a broad meaning, is called electromagnetic waves, which also include these invisible light; X rays, gamma rays, IR rays, radio waves and many other. Although the invisible light has led us to various scientific discoveries and inventions, the visible light, which we can sense directly, stirs our imagination and creativity much more than that.

Thus, that is the theme of “Photonics”, in my own interpretation. Maybe my life has long been connected to the Photonics Center. I will try best to be able to contribute the Center.

January 25th, 2017

Hiroshi  Osumi, Photonics Center

















フォトニクスセンター 大角泰史

「産総研・阪大 先端フォトニクス・バイオセンシングオープンイノベーションラボラトリ」の開所式が開催されました

posted Jan 10, 2017, 5:18 PM by 大角泰史

国立研究開発法人 産業技術総合研究所と本学は、平成23年3月に締結した、連携・協力の推進に関する協定に基づき、「産総研・阪大 先端フォトニクス・バイオセンシングオープンイノベーションラボラトリ」(以下、「PhotoBio-OIL」と言う)を設立し、平成29年1月6日に、開所式が開催されました。



Global Student Conference 2016

posted Dec 5, 2016, 8:32 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Dec 5, 2016, 8:33 PM ]

I am Taeho Lee, the president of OSA Osaka University Student Chapter of this year. Osaka University Student Chapter annually hold an international student conference organized by students. For the past few years, we have invited many foreign students studying optics and photonics to give them many opportunities to create international networks among the students all over the world.

In this year, OSA/SPIE/JSAP Osaka University Student Chapter are honored to hold an international student meeting “Global Student Conference 2016” during November 28-29.  We invited around 50 students from China, India, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Philippine, and Hong Kong to create valuable students’ networks.  With a concept “How does optical science make our future life meaningful?” by means of group work, invited lecturers and so on. Progress in optical science has contributed greatly to the development of technologies on these days. To consider future life which can take advantage of optical science has been always one of the biggest interest for students in optics & photonics field. In such an environment, we thought it will surely be meaningful to exchange opinions regarding students' future life among students of various countries.

We had an opening remark from Prof. Prabhat Verma, who is a faculty advisor of Global Student Conference 2016. We also had three invited lecturers, Prof. Nicholas Smith from Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University and Prof. Hiroshi Yoshikawa, from Nihon niversity and Prof. Takashige Omatsu from Chiba University .

We expect all attendees enjoyed their valuable networking and discussion time here at Osaka University, we wish experiences here gave them a lot of benefits for their future. We feel confident that Global Student Conference 2016 has provided students with both the tools and inspiration to make their future life meaningful using optical sciences that will contribute to advancements in technology to help people around the world.

Finally, I want to thank Prof. Nicholas Smith, Prof. Hiroshi Yoshikawa and Prof. Takashige Omatsu for giving us precious speeches and all the chapter staff and PARC staff for helping us to arrange this meeting. And I also would like to thank Prof. Verma for their warm supports and cooperation. We will continuously do our best for the success of this conference.

Taeho Lee
President of OSA Osaka University Student Chapter Coordinator of Global Student Conference 2016


本年度も機会に恵まれ、11/28(月)・11/29(火)フォトニクスセンターにて国際学生会議“Global Student Conference2016”を開催致しました。本会議は大阪大学OSA/SPIE/JSAP学生チャプターが共同で開催し、中国・インド・日本・台湾・韓国・フィリピン・香港から総勢50人を上回る学生が集う大規模な学生カンファレンスとなりました。

本年度は「光学技術は私たちの未来をどのように豊かにするか」というコンセプトの元、大阪大学IFReCからNicholas Smith先生、日本大学から吉川浩先生、千葉大学から尾松孝茂先生を迎えての招待講演やグループワークなどを通じ、光学技術の我々の未来への活用について活発な議論を行いました。また、口頭及びポスターでの研究発表を行うことで互いの意見を交換し、本会議は非常に有意義なカンファレンスとなりました。


最後に、ご講演いただいたNicholas Smith先生・吉川浩先生・尾松孝茂先生、本会議のOpeningRemarkを賜りましたPrabhatVerma先生、本学生会議の準備をサポートして下さった大阪大学学生チャプターの皆さん及びPARC職員の方々に厚く御礼を申し上げます。

大阪大学 OSA 学生チャプター代表
Global Student Conference 2016会長
李 泰怙


posted Nov 8, 2016, 4:14 PM by 田中千秋   [ updated Nov 8, 2016, 4:31 PM ]

A warm welcome from the Photonics Center, Osaka University to the delegates from the partner institutions of the JSPS Nanophotonics Core-to-Core Program, to join  the Symposium "Global Nanophotonics 2016", to be held in Osaka. The delegates are from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines, Korea, India, Australia, USA, Hong Kong as well as Japan. For details, please click here.

Asian Engineers / アジアの技術者たち

posted Oct 2, 2016, 7:37 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 4:40 PM ]

Whether it is academia or business matter, international exchange has great significance for young researchers and technical experts who bear the future.  Therefore, if you have any chance to visit foreign countries, please take a chance to challenge for your future.  I believe it will be your valuable experience.While I used to work for the former private company, I was in charge of technological development of the optical head for DVD at the company. In summer, 2007 (which was the follwing year of the product commercializing), the company planned to move the overseas base to a subsidiary company in China. Because of my experience I was assigned for overseas posting in Hong Kong and China for 3 years.

 After the Plaza Accord (the 1985 agreement of the G5 nations), the value of the yen had soared.  Many of Japanese factories were forced to relocate production overseas. Since products such as optical head required manpower for assembly process, due to a wage differential, we established a business framework (domestic technological development and overseas manufacturing).  The movie “Ah!the  Nomugi toge (1979)” though a  little bit old, (that is old Japanese story of the silk industry and the young girls who worked hard as silk spinners in a hot factory.)  We had many factories manufacturing domestically, however, most of them were closed and demolished to vacant lots.  This is just a changes of the times passing an era. Our next generation will have demands to reconsider about the future state of  Japanese company and the manufacturing industry.  We need to find an appropriate business field in Japan and hand it over to a new generation.  One of the solutions might be to develop the high value-added products with fine processing technology and the most advanced IT technological products which is the fusion of hardware/software.

 When I was working at a manufacturing factory in China, thousands of young work women in their teens and twenties lived in a dormitory in the factory site. They manufactured a new product, one after another with three shifts including midnight shift. They had a dance party every weekend, and enjoyed their work and life.  It looked hard circumstances for young girls to leave their parental home at an early age. To go home only on long holidays due to long distance and when sending most of their salary to parents.  However they were always neatly dressed and enjoyed their work and life at the factory locations.  Maybe their salary were enough to them. We were firmly resolved to develop and provide a new product continuously so that those young work women would not lose their job and their employment will be assured.

 The team I belonged to consisted of 100 and more of work women and 10 male staff members.  The ratio of Chinese and Hong Konger was 4 : 1,  the language was all English. (we could not follow in case they speak Chinese or Cantonese language.) Similarly, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, women did the same work among men. All worked through the night. I think Japan has gotten closer to this, but still very few female students study at Mechanical Engineering or Civil Engineering. For translation purpose, those who can speak Japanese are invaluable and helpful to us.  However, if we rely on too much on them, we might lose a chance of our own thinking and experiencing.  Therefore, “everything in moderation” is the key word, when asking others for help.

 In Hong Kong and Shenzhen, I had an opportunity of visiting an exhibition of electronic equipment.  The difference from CEATEC, Japan was that many small companies participated in an exhibition with a small booth.  Not like a situation where very successful big companies had great power, but all exhibition companies were equally challenging for the market.  I felt a great vital power for the future. In Taiwan, many companies started up businesses of semiconductor manufacturing, introducing used equipment.  I encountered a situation when the company looking for a purchasing company(in a good way) was negotiating M&A (merger and acquisition ) with a subsidiary company of my overseas posting. With more venture companies and investment companies, I am sure that there must be more chances for the nation to promote M&A (merger and acquisition) compared to Japan.

 Generally speaking, Chinese, including the above mentioned workers and staffs, are so friendly to Japanese. I was concerned about rising anti-Japanese sentiment when I heard that Chinese are taught so in a text book in China, however, it is only a matter of politics. Actually Chinese people, being eager to learn techniques and information from Japan, they try to contact with us to establish good relationship.I am sure that if we become friends, we will easily have interesting discussions about current educational status’. Actually I am so sorry that I could not have so many opportunities to communicate with local Chinese people, since I had several Japanese colleagues in the same team.  However, I made an opportunity to have dinner with local staffs once a week.  Therefore I think I could fully  understand how they like Japan and Japanese technology.

 I was relocated to overseas, aiming to market development of optical head, however, the situation was difficult due to the subprime mortgage crisis, the economic downturn precipitated by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008, and the wave of cruel depression we had ever experienced.  In Japan also, we experienced hard times.  Some companies terminated contracts with temporary employees, whereas they could not dismiss permanent workers without good reason.Since our team failed in customer development, as company policy, not only factory workers、we were forced to dismiss one in four local staff.  Instead of advance notification, the target person was handed one envelop at the final day of the month.  I heard that the envelop include a letter of contract termination, a statement of accounts, and job recruitment information.  As you know foreign capital companies are very dry (business-like).  One of my subordinates (technical man) was forced to receive the envelop without notice.  I was intensely sad about his leaving, since he was working so hard with us from the beginning of the business.However, I am so relieved to hear that he overcame his hardship and set up his own trading company which deals with technical related products and doing well. We made vigorous efforts on the optical head business, however, we could not achieve the target earnings and we suspended the business in 2010. The member dissolved, and I returned to Japan and went back to research field.  We already decided that we would develop a new theme since our application had already been approved.  The optical head was not in much demand but we promised the  local staff and members to develop a new product and they would come back. 

 After that, the theme was suspended due to company’s change of policy, however, the reason of my continuously exerting myself is to realize our promise.Japanese technology, as it used to be, should become the world’s leading technology, competing with Western countries and aiming to develop new industry.  When I meet people in different countries on my business I strongly resolved to do so.  That is because I inherited the DNA from my ancestors since I was borne in a corner of Asia.

October 3rd, 2016
Dr. Giichi Shibuya
Research Associate
Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering,
Graduate School of Engineering,
Osaka University









澁谷 義一 博士研究員 

Self-Introduction / ごあいさつ

posted Aug 22, 2016, 12:00 AM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Aug 22, 2016, 12:03 AM ]

My name is Kazuto Yamauchi and I am a new member at the Photonics Center. “Light” for me is X-rays and, therefore, I would like to describe some of the developments in X-ray optics while telling you a little about myself.
X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Röntgen. In 1912, less than twenty years later, Max von Laue discovered the diffraction of X-rays by zinc sulfide crystals, and the following year William H. and William L. Bragg, father and son, presented Bragg’s law. These brilliant achievements gave us light that enabled humans to see atoms, the greatest beneficiary of which is the field of crystal structure analysis. A hundred years later, the U.N. General Assembly proclaimed 2014 to be the International Year of Crystallography, showing just how much X-rays have contributed to crystallography. In the meantime, optics and crystallography have grown immensely, through mutual stimulation, and have dramatically improved the performance of light sources. Higher throughput has been the greatest need for crystal structure analysis, and particularly for the structural analysis of proteins. X-rays in the form of synchrotron radiation sources have shown rapid advancements in brilliance since around 1990. As a result, X-rays acquired the byproduct spatial coherence, which had not been particularly needed for crystal structure analysis, and a new discipline called coherent X-ray optics was born at synchrotron radiation facilities such as SPring-8. While it is somewhat misleading to say, their function as a tool for viewing matter may have brought X-rays back to the forefront of science.
I was a newcomer to the field at this time, working to develop mirrors based on precision machining and metrology for preserving coherence in the light source. We became the first in the world to successfully achieve diffraction-limited focusing and imaging. We also developed a technique for measuring wavefronts based on wave optics and an adaptive optical system for correcting deformations in the wavefronts, and achieved X-ray scanning microscopy with a sub-10 nm spatial resolution and coherent diffraction microscopy approaching a spatial resolution of 1 nm. I take great pride in having contributed in some small way to the advancement of X-ray microscopy based on synchrotron radiation.
Now, synchrotron X-rays have been successfully developed into an X-ray free-electron laser. X-ray FEL facilities are currently installed at two locations: the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in America and the Riken Harima Branch in Japan. These ultrashort pulse lasers produce wavelengths covering the hard X-ray region, with a pulse duration of femtoseconds. The peak intensity of the beam approaches 10 billion times that of SPring-8. It is a dream light source that is in the process of developing entirely new X-ray sciences. The X-ray mirrors fabricated with our method are called Osaka Mirrors and have been installed at both facilities in the U.S. and Japan. A venture company financed by Osaka University Venture Capital (OUVC) ships the mirrors worldwide, and advanced development of the mirrors is now undertaken by postdoctoral researchers.
Recently we succeeded in observing two-photon absorption with Japan’s X-ray FEL SACLA, using a beam focused down to 50 nm. K emissions were observed when exciting germanium with 5.6-keV X-rays. The intensity of the K fluorescence was essentially proportional to the square of the exciting X-ray intensity. Energy of 11.1 keV was necessary for exciting the Ge K-shell, and there was no intermediate state for two-stage excitation. In fact, the two 5.6 keV photons were absorbed simultaneously with no intermediate state, transferring 11.1 keV of energy to the K-shell electron. The second photon acts within a few hundred zeptoseconds from the first, before the ripples of the first photon have even subsided. This is the first observation of its kind in the X-ray region.
I have continued research on coherent X-ray optics and have been involved in the development of various X-ray devices. However, everything I have done to this point academically has been in optics rather than photonics. If it were not for X-ray FEL making nonlinear optics experiments possible in the X-ray region, I would have been hesitant to join the Photonics Center. This is an exciting area with boundless potential.
As a new member, I hope to contribute to research in photonics in the X-ray region, as well as in surface generation and the like for photonic materials using my specialty of precision machining. But I will cut my self-introduction off here before this gets too lengthy.

August 22, 2016
Kazuto Yamauchi, Professor
Division of Precision Science and Technology and Applied Physics
Graduate School of Engineering
Osaka University

山内 和人  教授

The Advancement of Science and the Cost to Society / 科学の発展と社会のコスト

posted May 12, 2016, 9:20 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated May 12, 2016, 9:33 PM ]

The other day, I was astonished to read the top news headline on Yahoo! Japan: “A Drug that Will Destroy the Country”. This headline was linked to an article run by the S Newspaper. Thinking that the possibility of just one drug alone causing the downfall of an entire country was extraordinary, I read the article with curiosity. The drug discussed in the article was not a narcotic or stimulant, but rather an anti-cancer drug called O that in recent years has been newly introduced to the Japanese pharmaceutical market by Company O. O is a revolutionary drug with the unprecedented anti-cancer action mechanism of killing cancer by enhancing immune system functioning. Previously existing anti-cancer drugs have targeted cancer cells directly, but they can also attack healthy cells and have many side-effects. In contrast, O acts on immune functioning and has few side-effects and could potentially be effective against a range of cancers; thus, it is generating tremendous expectations as a cancer therapy. A point that we researchers in academia should focus on in particular is that the development of O is based on the research of Prof. Dr. Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University and is a university-developed pharmaceutical. How can such a wonderful drug “destroy” a country? The answer is that the dug is incredibly expensive. Although the cost apparently depends on the number of times it is administered, O costs 35 million yen per patient per year. The article described how this fact became an issue in a Ministry of Finance meeting. If one half of the more than 100,000 non-small cell lung cancer patients who are eligible for treatment with O (50,000) were treated with O, the annual cost would be 1.75 trillion yen, and even with the government partially covering that amount, the cost could run into several hundreds of billions of yen. At this Ministry of Finance meeting, there was a debate over whether or not this cost burden had the potential to bankrupt national finances, and it was apparently proposed at the time that restrictions be placed on use of the drug for patients aged 75 years or older in order to avoid national bankruptcy. While it is impossible to ignore the financial reality, surely emotionally this is a truly pitiful story. Although it is not my intention to criticize debates such as this, what especially shocked me when I read the article was the problem of the cost involved when something new is developed through academic research. Unlike ordinary industrial goods, it is possible to commercialize and reap profits for pharmaceuticals—even when the cost is enormously high—because drug development not only received government assistance but is also an issue that involves human lives. Consequently, the tendency towards ignoring the extent of costs is likely to strengthen. This situation is not limited to O, and with the advancement of research, the number of diseases that will be able to be cured will increase more and more, while at the same time, the financial burden on society will also continue to steadily increase. This poses an unspeakable dilemma in which the lives of many people are saved but society as a whole comes under financial constraints. As scientists, it is only natural that we should think about how to create things that are effective yet inexpensive. However, when speaking specifically about pharmaceuticals, this could be an especially high hurdle to overcome. Thinking carefully about these issues, I remembered something—I personally have had the experience of developing a product jointly with a company up to a point just before commercialization only to have the project ultimately rejected because the production costs were too high. Unlike companies, in academia it is often the case that research and development is undertaken without taking into account the eventual costs from the very beginning. This is because in academia, what come first are establishing the principles of the developed drug (invention) and publishing academic papers. In particular, research that focuses only on lowering production costs does not produce academic papers with great impact in many cases. However, it goes without saying that carrying out research that can be practically applied to society should truly be recognized and praised. Reading this article reminded me, partly as self-admonition, to keep this point in mind as I carry out my research activities.

May 13th, 2016
Yuichiro Hori, Associate Professor
Division of Advanced Science and Biotechnology
Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University

堀 雄一郎  准教授

Research on Magnetic Computers / 磁性コンピュータの研究

posted Apr 11, 2016, 10:41 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Apr 11, 2016, 10:47 PM ]

Most functions in the computers that we use in our daily lives are implemented with semiconductor devices. If we could replace these semiconductor devices with magnetic devices, we could build a computer that is highly resistant to radiation and that uses very little energy, requiring no power to preserve information. While such a computer may or may not be feasible, our lab was presented with the opportunity to conduct research on magnetic computers.

I believe it was in the year 2001. A former professor had just returned from a business trip overseas and informed us that they were studying the use of magnets in logical operations there. However, magnetic bodies was not this professor’s specialty, and it was apparent that he understood little of the research and could offer no further information than the two keywords “magnets” and “operations.” There were a few ideas at that time, albeit few, for using tiny magnetic bodies and magnetic wires to perform computations. However, I had drawn no connections between the two since these devices had a long way to go before being useful for calculations. At some point, it struck me that we may be able to perform computations with small magnets if we packed several of them close together. The outcome may have been different had we first studied the existing research.

Two magnets repel each other when their north poles or south poles are brought close together because the system is in a high-energy state due to the magnetic fields produced by both magnets. Consequently, the system attempts to lower this energy state by moving the magnets away from each other. If the north pole of one magnet is brought close to the south pole of the other, the energy of the system drops as the two poles near each other, causing the magnets to stick together. When a tiny magnetic body is formed on a silicon substrate, on the other hand, the system lowers energy by reversing the orientation of the magnet’s north and south poles, i.e., the direction of magnetization, since the magnet itself cannot move. This means that a certain action will lead to a certain result, which could be construed as a logical operation.

Initially we decided to apply for a patent on this concept in March 2002 (unexamined patent application No. 2003-280892). At that time, we had focused only on the concept of using magnetic bodies for logical operations and, looking back, the shape and system of these devices are now considerably different. We strayed from this research for a while after that, but in 2003 we had a visiting postdoctoral fellow from Bangladesh, named Anis, explore some structures for devices through micro magnetic simulations. Anis specialized in computer science and had no specific knowledge of magnetic bodies. Perhaps for the very reason of not being constrained by common knowledge of magnetic bodies, he referenced papers on logical operations using electric fields and conducted simulations on magnetic elements with similar structures. It may have been just good fortune, but after about a half year he discovered a system for implementing logical operations with magnetic elements. When four magnetic bodies are arranged in close proximity to each other and data is inputted into three of the bodies, the direction of magnetization in the remaining magnetic body indicates the result of the operation and, thus, the output of the system. This configuration was shown to perform logical NAND and NOR operations (S.A. Haque, M. Yamamoto, R. Nakatani, and Y. Endo, J. Magn.& Magn. Mater., 282, 380-384 [2004]).

These findings have led to the current research, which has progressed from simple logical operations to elements that transmit data to each other and elements that divert data. Thus, there is promise for building a magnetic computer by connecting these elements together (H. Nomura, M. Yamamoto and R. Nakatani, Appl. Phys. Exp., 4, 013004 [2001]).

The magnetic logic gates mentioned above possess an extremely strong resistance to radiation and use no power to preserve data, which should allow them to operate under the extreme conditions in space and around nuclear reactors, for example, environments for which semiconductor devices are unsuitable. So what is the point? Looking further into the future, the environment on earth will one day become inhabitable for humans. Like in the plot of a science fiction story, humans may have to resettle in another planetary system. However, the effects of radiation in space described above are actually much stronger than people think. It is unlikely that living organisms would be able to tolerate it. It has been suggested that zygotes could survive in such an environment, perhaps shielded by water.

At birth, humans have a very immature form and require a lengthy development period. Conversely, this lengthy development period is necessary for the growth of human intelligence. Even if the zygotes were incubated in space, they must be educated in order to be raised as intelligent beings. Some people have envisioned robots to fill the role of educators. Naturally, the robots could not be dependent on semiconductor devices since semiconductors are vulnerable to cosmic rays. The robots would need to possess a brain that functions using magnetic logic gates. While this may appear to be an extreme fantasy—we would need to launch numerous spacecraft controlled by magnetic computers with the hope that one lucky spacecraft would discover a star system in which humankind could survive, and would have to incubate cryopreserved zygotes that would then be educated by robots once they become young humans—this may be the only solution for the survival of humankind. Of course all of this ignores the significance of going to these length to sustain the existence of humankind.

April 12, 2016
Ryoichi Nakatani, Professor
Division of Materials and Manufacturing Science
Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University




 とりあえず、この概念を2002年3月に特許として出願しました[特開2003-280892]。今から考えると、概念だけ考えたわけですから、形状、システムは今とはかなり違います。しばらく、その研究は放置していましたが、2003年にAnisというバングラデシュからきたポスドクにマイクロマグネティクス・シミュレーションを使って、素子としての構造を模索してもらうことにしました。彼は、コンピュータサイエンスが専門で、磁性体は非専門です。磁性体の常識にはとらわれませんから、電場によって演算する論文を見つけてきて、似たような構成の磁性体素子についてシミュレーションを行いました。幸運だったのかもしれませんが、半年くらいで演算する系が見つかります。4個の磁性体を近接し、情報を3個の磁性体に入れておくと、残りの1個の磁性体の磁化の向きが演算結果となり出力されそうです。その演算はNANDおよびNORの論理演算でした[S. A. Haque, M. Yamamoto, R. Nakatani and Y. Endo, J. Magn. & Magn. Mater., 282, 380-384 (2004)]。
 現在では、そこから始まった研究は、論理演算だけではなく、情報を素子間で伝搬したり、情報を分岐する素子にも発展しています。これらを接続すればコンピュータができあがりそうです[H. Nomura and R. Nakatani, Appl. Phys. Exp., 4, 013004 (2011)]。




"Thoughts on "The 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan"" / 『科学技術基本計画と「わたし」』

posted Mar 13, 2016, 9:23 PM by 田中千秋   [ updated Mar 13, 2016, 9:39 PM ]

 April 2016 marks the beginning of the fifth installment of the Science and Technology Basic Plan — a government-established, systematic and coherent basic plan for executing long-term science and technology policy that was developed in the Science and Technology Basic Act in 1995. I am embarrassed to say that I did not know of the plan until I heard it in a seminar about a month ago, but the new plan—which is based on the results and challenges of the 20-year period for Plans 1 through 4 and reflects the current global, social, and economic situation— will unquestionably impact the entire breadth of science and technology, both in academia and industry.

The Basic Plan states Japan’s Vision for the future to become a country that: shows sustainable growth, both as a nation and in local communities ; provides a safe, affluent and high quality of life for citizens; can contribute to solving global problems and promoting global development; and consistently creates innovation. To achieve the vision, the plan promotes: value creation initiatives for future industry creation and social transformation; responses to economic and social problems; investment in basic research ; and development of human resources, intellectual property, and a desirable funding cycle. Universities are called to play a crucial role in increasing the level of basic research, with challenging targets being established, including a 10% share in the top 10% of most cited papers, a 50% increase in joint research funds from companies, and a 50% increase in the number of licensed patents, while achieving growth in the number of young faculty, growth in the number of female faculty, and growth in the total volume of published papers.

Although I always nod with appreciation at such talk, in the back of my mind I also wonder, “Specifically, what do we have to do?” Having heard the Basic Plan, do I, for example, need to change my approach in the research lab or the way I interact with students? It is not like I am procrastinating at the moment (at least I believe so), but in the case I need to change something, then what and how? I do not think this is a problem related to just science and technology-related policies, but because most national policies are formulated with a long-term perspective, the plans are just overly grand and do not seem at all related to myself. I wish that the plan was detailed enough to include specific suggestions targeted at people working at the field level (e.g., young university faculty), so that the people affected by the policy can better see the problem as their own.

There is no way for me to know what the people who developed the Basic Plan were ultimately expecting, but if there was something I could do toward achieving the goals set in the Basic Plan, it would be to make a small change to my research mindset. Regarding this, there is one phrase from a seminar I attended in 2014 that left a strong impression: “Do what is important, not what is interesting.” Stated by a science and technology investor, the words resonated in a very refreshing way. Researchers frequently pursue research that piques their interest, and this attitude is accepted without question, especially at universities. However, the above phrase is telling us that if we desire to truly contribute to society, we need to take on critical problems faced by the world and not problems that only we find interesting. Although it is easy to forget in the face of intense research competition, the fundamental purpose of engineering studies, after all, is to resolve problems facing society. It is always important to come back to the simple perspective of “doing research that benefits people”.

I must admit though, that my current research mindset is not exactly aligned with the words above. This comes from my conviction that a problem is important because it is difficult to solve. Usually, it takes more than a good idea – a breakthrough – to solve it. And where do breakthroughs come from? From interesting basic research. So, I think the most desirable approach is to engage in both kinds of research activities, with a slightly higher priority in solving the important problems: i.e., “do what is important, and what is interesting”. I think universities are a great workplace in that the faculty can direct his/her research at his/her own discretion (in most cases). With an organization like PARC, researchers in academia can exchange information and ideas with researchers in industry on important problems and cutting-edge technologies. For a researcher, what more could you ask for, if research, driven by your own intellectual interest, could solve one of world’s most important problems?  

March 14th, 2016
Hiroyuki Yoshida
Assisstant Professor
Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering,
Graduate School of Engineering,
Osaka University


基本計画を全て理解したわけではありませんが、計画では「目指すべき国の姿」として「持続的な成長と地域社会の自律的な発展」、「国及び国民の安全・安心の確保と豊かで質の高い生活の実現 」、「地球規模課題への対応と世界の発展への貢献 」と「知の資産の持続的創出 」を掲げ、その実現のために「未来の産業創造と社会変革に向けた新たな価値創出の取組 」、「経済・社会的課題への対応 」、「基盤的な力の強化」、そして「人材、知、資金の好循環システムの構築」を推進することを述べています。大学が特に関係するのは「基盤的な力の強化」で、若手教員、女性教員の拡充の他、総論文数を増やしつつ、総論文数に占める被引用回数トップ10%の論文の割合が10%となることを目指す、企業からの共同研究受入額の50%増加を目指す、特許実施許諾件数の50%増加を目指すなど、挑戦的な目標設定がなされています。


基本計画を策定した方が何を想定されているかは結局、分からないのですが、科学技術基本計画の実現に向けて自分が何かできるとすれば、研究に対するマインドセットを少し変えることかな、と考えています。これについては2014年に受講した研修で聞いた、次の言葉が強く印象に残っています。"Do what is important, not what is interesting"-この言葉は科学技術に投資する立場の方から聞いたのですが、自分には極めて新鮮にヒットしました。研究者は自分の興味に突き動かされて研究を進める場合が多いと思いますし、特に大学においてはそれが正しい姿のように思えます。ただ、世の中に本当に貢献したいのであれば、自分が興味のある問題にでなく、世の中が抱える重要な問題に挑みなさい、と上の言葉は言っています。近年の加熱する研究競争で忘れがちではありますが、工学が本来、社会が抱える問題を解決することを目的とした学問であることを考えると、人の役に立つことを研究する、というシンプルな視点は非常に重要だな、と思います。

と、このようなことを書きながら、今の私の研究に対するマインドセットは実は、上の言葉そのままではありません。問題がImportantなのはそれが難しいからであり、その解決には今まで人が思いつかなかったアイディアが必要となると思うからです。解決する糸口がどこにあるかというと、それはInterestingな基礎科学の先にあると私は思います。ですので、両者の優先順位はそのままで、両方に取り組むのが一番望ましいと考えています。つまり、"Do what is important, and what is interesting"。大学は非常に良い場所で、(いつもではありませんが)教員の裁量で、両方に取り組めます。研究者としては、自分の興味ある研究も思いっきり楽しみながら、それが重要な問題の解決策となれば冥利につきると思います。このような環境や、共に研究を進めてくれる学生の皆さんに感謝しつつ、これからの科学技術の発展のために頑張りたいと思います。

吉田 浩之 助教

Dreams of science and technology in 30 years' time / 30年後の科学技術の夢

posted Feb 14, 2016, 3:49 PM by 田中千秋   [ updated Feb 21, 2016, 11:05 PM by PARC Osaka University ]

The film Back to the Future Part 2, released in 1989, was a story in which the hero, who was living in the America of 1985, was transported 30 years into the future, to the year 2015. Stanley Kubrick's epoch-making 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey also depicted the world in around 30 years' time. Among film makers and science fiction writers, 30 years seems to be the ideal time span for depicting the progress of science and technology. Last year, television and magazine features compared the goods and technologies shown in Back to the Future with the actual technologies we now have at our disposal. The DeLorean automobile and time machine that is fueled by garbage has yet to appear in our daily lives, but photos and film footage of a DeLorean that actually was developed by a recycling company and a DVD production company, and runs on bioethanol made from old clothes, caused a stir. I was given the post of an assistant professor in the School of Engineering at Osaka University in 1986, and by a strange coincidence I reached my own thirtieth year of activities as part of the University teaching staff this year. 

When I compare the science and technology in the year I became an assistant professor with what we have nowadays, even allowing for the fact that these things have not suddenly appeared overnight, thus cushioning the shock, there is plenty that would have amazed me in 1986, such as smartphones, hybrid cars, the Internet and so on. Technologies centering on light have made extraordinary progress over the past three decades, and there are all sorts of products that were not available 30 years ago, including fiber optic cables, LCD televisions, digital videos and cameras, blue lasers, blue light-emitting diodes and many others. “The 21st century will be the century of light” was a catchword coined as far back as the 1970s, and the avenues of light were already opening up when I became an assistant professor in the 1980s. Involved in research using light, as an assistant professor I was an unswerving advocate of this catchword and used it frequently in application forms for budgets. However, with regard to feasibility at the time the idea of light was still a vague notion, and the fact that we are now surrounded in our daily lives by the devices I have listed above gives me a true sense that we live in a world where that catchphrase of the 1970s has become a reality. Fiber optic cables, CCDs and other light devices located where the naked eye cannot see are entities that are understood by those in the know, and without people such as these then I do not think the “century of light” I mentioned above would have come into existence in the way it has done today.

So, what do the next 30 years hold in store for us? Will the “century of light” become a more tangible, more visible concept? I do not know whether I will still be on the face of this Earth in 30 years' time, but I do know that I fully intend watching it evolve even further with my own two eyes.

February 15th, 2016

Prof. Susumu Kuwabata

Division of Applied Chemistry,

Graduate School of Engineering,

Osaka University





桑畑 進 教授



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