This proposal, entitled "Development of New Materials and Innovative Devices Using Atomically Thin Two-Dimensional Functional Films," is about research and development (R&D) of new materials, innovative devices, and nanosystems1 that use atomically thin two-dimensional functional films such as graphene which has attracted attention in recent years.
An atomically thin two-dimensional functional film is defined as a functional thin-film material whose surface or interface has a two-dimensional atomic crystal structure or an equivalent two-dimensional electronic state. Such films have properties and structures different from those of traditional bulk materials or simple thin films, are capable of having new functions or functions superior to those of traditional films, and are anticipated to contribute to the development of new materials and devices. The proposed R&D is expected to lead to significant reduction in power consumption and device size, which is needed for next-generation electronic devices and systems, and to the creation of new functions incorporated into such systems. These potential outcomes can strengthen the international competitiveness of Japan's electronics industry and other industries related to the production of electronic devices and nanosystems. Moreover, it is hoped that the proposed R&D will lead to the discovery of new material functions in basic science, to integration of academic fields related to functional thin-film research, and to medium- to long-term training of young researchers who will become international leaders in this field. At present, the field is indeed at a stage where research activities are being intensified in Japan and overseas, and thus it is essential to implement national R&D policies early so that Japan can play a leading role in this field.
Two main R&D-related challenges are proposed: (1) creation of fundamental technologies for innovative devices with atomically thin functional films that serve application needs and (2) research on the functions of atomically thin films with novel structures and establishment of scientific principles in device design that will contribute to advancing technologies offered to the market. A multilayered approach to R&D is necessary that responds to both the first challenge, which is based on clear user needs, and the second challenge for which such needs are met through the provision of relevant technologies. Application-oriented R&D is aimed at the practical use of graphene and other materials in transparent electrodes, conductive thin films, LSI wiring, various sensors, and high-speed electronic devices. Research topics related to technologies offered to the market include various component technologies associated with atomically thin films, particularly synthesis technologies; crystal growth technologies; manufacturing technologies; measurement, analysis, and evaluation techniques; and exploratory theoretical analysis and simulation methods.
Achieving the goals in this proposal requires several measures for promoting strategic R&D.
As international competition in R&D becomes increasingly severe, this proposal suggests utilizing the Tsukuba Innovation Arena (TIA)2 as a common infrastructure for improving the efficiency of R&D investment to the greatest possible extent and for increasing the speed of pre-application development. Through research projects centered on the TIA (which has 100 corporate nanoelectronics researchers and 300 researchers overall), and through publicly offered projects sponsored by JST and other organizations, it will be possible to promote R&D projects that are conducted cooperatively by industry, universities, and independent administrative agencies. With regard to the details of projects, it is necessary to strongly collaborate with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and relevant independent administrative agencies, to incorporate opinions from industry, and to secure industry's commitment to efforts for realizing the practical application of technologies.
As for the promotion of R&D, execution of the aforementioned multilayered R&D is expected to bring about incorporation of techniques gained through the development of applied technologies into basic research and will consequently lead to the creation of game-changing technologies.
As for R&D investment, this proposal suggests that integrative research be promoted somewhat forcibly by designing rules that require interdisciplinary collaboration among applicants to a publicly offered program, for example, between a team that approaches problems from a physics standpoint and a team that approaches problems from a chemistry standpoint. Also, in order to promote training of researchers which will be needed in the field of atomically thin films, a funding system must be established that will seamlessly connect the results of academic research projects receiving Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research to objective-oriented basic research supported by, for example, the JST Strategic Basic Research Programs and then to programs for the development of practical applications sponsored by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization and other organizations.
In the case of graphene, Japan's R&D policy is less active relative to those of European countries and the United States, and it is generally considered that Japan makes only a small contribution in this field. However, Japan is a leading country in the field of materials science. Since cooperation and collaboration among physicists and chemists is essential to research on atomically thin functional film, Japan's future efforts should include promotion of large-scale national projects and programs that not only are based on research integrated with related fields and "vertical" cooperation with applied fields, but also should include researcher training and international cooperation. The goal is to realize ultra-low-power electronic devices and systems with new materials, to achieve energy and resource conservation, which is strongly needed to create tomorrow's sustainable society, and to meet societal expectations.
1 A nanosystem is defined as a part, device, or system that is socially recognizes and is capable of providing high-level functions contributing to the solution of important issues as an aggregate/integration/unification of component technologies in the fields of nanotechnology and materials science and other fields.
2 The TIA is listed as one of the factors in science and technology that contribute to growth in the New Growth Plan approved by the Cabinet in 2010 and satisfies the description of the place for industry-academia-government cooperation promoted in the Fourth Science and Technology Basic Plan. Also, some of the programs promoted by the TIA are included in the Action Plan for the 2012 Priority Measures in Science and Technology.