Mar./2010
(STRATEGIC PROPOSALS)
Molecular Technology “The creation of novel functions from molecular levels” -To assure sustainable society by fusing multi-disciplinary fields-/CRDS-FY2009-SP-06
Executive Summary

“Molecular technology” is a series of techniques to exploit fully features of molecules to create the desired functions by designing, synthesizing, operating, controlling, and integrating molecules on the basis of scientific findings in fields of physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics. Molecular technology is a general term of technologies aiming at free control of molecules in intent to create new materials, new devices, new processes, and useful materials, etc. This initiative proposes promotion of research and development by embracing “Molecular technology” from the cross-cutting perspective and by providing the comprehensive framework. Furthermore, this initiative leads to a noble development because researchers of various fields without any connections can reconsider mutual works on the common basis of “Molecular technology”.

In the conventional molecular science field, the similar functions were obtained by copying artificially natural molecules identified through discovery and analysis of various molecules in the course of observing and exploring through the nature. Recent new trend, however, is not to seek a model in the nature, but is to design the target functions first, followed by obtaining the substance compatible with such functions, as is observed in several research and development cases. Behind such a trend are the rapid performance upgrade of computers used in molecular designing and reaction simulation, the rapid progress of in situ process monitoring technologies for real-time measurement and analysis of chemical reaction process by means of X-rays and electron beams.

We propose here for funding the review of rapidly-advancing molecular technology as a whole from six cross-cutting technical aspects. They are the molecular design and creation techniques, molecular conversion and processing techniques, molecular electronic state control techniques, molecular shape and structure control techniques, molecular assembly and complex control techniques, and molecule?ion transport control techniques.

The mainstream is “funding” to solve issues separately in fields, each with individual application theme, such as “solar cell”, “drug discovery”, etc. Funding is intended to review technical issues presenting bottlenecks for application according to the concept based on above six cross-cutting aspects, thereby allowing researchers of various fields to challenge the study while being equipped with common scientific concepts. For such purpose to be achieved, it is essential to take the interdisciplinary approach. Namely, researchers from chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics are to coordinate and interlink.
If these R & D achievements are to be developed into “Molecular technology” in each application field, it is important first to establish the cooperation system between the engineers engaged in device realization and in application fields( drug development, etc.) and the industries in charge of mass production and marketing. Through merging of cross-cutting technical fields in the established cooperation system, R & D achievements must be established as individual molecular technology.

This initiative must be cooperatively driven by both MEXT and METI. Moreover, related scientific societies such as The Chemical Society of Japan, The Physical Society of Japan, Japan Society of Applied Physics, The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan, The Molecular Biology Society of Japan, etc, are needed to promote the interdisciplinary fusion by the removal of walls existing among societies.

As described so far, R & D in the molecular technology is difficult to move forward solely by the independent findings of conventional scientific fields, such as chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics. What is important is to take up and overcome the bottlenecks in applications as common issues based on the interdisciplinary merged fields. Note that cross-cutting funding covering the whole of molecular technology has not yet been implemented inside and outside Japan. It may be that, by implementing funding early in Japan, we may take the leadership of the world in this field.

In conclusion, the contents of this initiative must be started as early as possible and implemented within the medium- to long-term scope.