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Strategic Sector

"Enhancing advanced materials science and life science toward innovations using new light sources, including state-of-the-art laser technology" (Set in FY2008)

1. Title

Enhancing advanced materials science and life science toward innovations using new light sources, including state-of-the-art laser technology

2. Content

Optical and Photo science is a fundamental research field at the forefront of research and development (R&D) that has achieved breakthroughs in prioritized areas such as information and communication, nanotechnology/materials, life sciences, the environment, and energy.
Traditionally, a number of researchers have been conducting individual research using light. However, those researches have not been leading cutting edge science, because there has not been an appropriate system to promote unique research in which researchers or developers with profound knowledge about light source performance and metrology can cooperate closely with a broad range of researchers who utilize laser and other light sources.
The purpose of this strategic sector is to lead to advancements in science in prioritized areas and to stimulate innovation, such as creation of new materials and detoxification of toxic byproducts by alteration of the binding state of atoms with light energy, and actualization of noninvasive medicine by development of technologies that allow detection of foreign matter or tumors on a distinct fluoroscopic image without exposure to radiation. The purpose will be achieved by concentrating on R&D projects that meet conditions described below.
1. Research should make full use of available state-of-the-art light source technology by modifying existing light sources independently or devising new usage.
2. Research should aim to make world-leading achievements in science using light in each prioritized area by embracing completely new ideas.

3. Policy position (relationship with "Science and Technology Basic Plan" and "Strategic Prioritized cience and Technology")

In the "Third Science and Technology Basic Plan," is stated "it is necessary to nurture environments that promote intellectual inspiration and fusion among different areas for creation of new wisdom by accelerating R&D that allows flexible orchestration of knowledge necessary for problem solving across the existing boundaries between research areas." Photon science and technology is truly the one that leads to creation of new innovation by fusing the areas of information and communication, nanotechnology/materials, and life sciences, across the boundaries with basic science including optics, quantum mechanics, and electromagnetics.
In relation to this strategic sector, "Measurement, Processing, and Production Technology with Advanced Usage of Quantum Beams," is listed as one of the fundamental technologies in the field of nanotechnology/materials in "the prioritized fields" and the key R&D theme in the areas of information and communication includes light-related subjects such as "Subject 7: Fusion Technology (Terahertz Devices, Medical IT, and Advanced ITS Technology)" and "Subject 9: Future Devices (Advanced Optical Devices, Post-silicon, MEMS Applications, and Flux Quantum Circuits)." In addition, photon science technologies are indispensable and fundamental in pursueing key R&D themes, including bioimaging and molecular imaging, which are listed among the "prioritized fields".

4. Position of this research project among research promotion measures in relevant research fields, ifferences from other related measures, and differences in effects of policy

In some areas of optical and photo technology, theoretical and embryonic research has been conducted with reliance on Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research and basic budget of research institutions. Moreover, researches are undertaken to accelerate R&D in the research areas of optical science such as "Photonics and Quantum Optics for the Creation of Innovative Functions" (CREST), "Evolution of Light Generation and Manipulation" (PRESTO), and "Photons on Soft Materials" (PRESTO) since 2005 under the strategic sector "Ultimate and Local Control of Photon and Applications".
However, optical science research funded by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research has been conducted using traditional light sources based on the personal ideas and interests of individual researchers.
In CREST started in 2007, creation of new functions and materials is at the core of the research goal, with a focus on the development of new materials and new functional devices, and therefore basic optics and photoscience research that makes full use of new light sources and metrology has not been conducted. In PRESTO, basic research subjects related to the nature of light such as interaction between light and materials are selected and some pioneering studies are ongoing; however, theoretical research is still predominant and joint or fused research with light source or metrology developers, which is necessary for expansion to applications, has not been conducted.
This program dramatically improves the effort for collaboration and fusion among light source developers, researchers of light fundamentals, and researchers of utilizations of light, which has not been satisfactory. Unlike the conventional approach, in this program research of light fundamentals and applications that make full use of the properties and nature of new light sources will be conducted with support from light source developers who are familiar with the generation principle, performance, and metrology of new light sources. Therefore, the program is expected to lead to creation of world-level research findings and innovations in each key area.

5. Achievements and goals expected; and reasons, urgency, and need for priority from specialists and dustries over other Strategic Prioritized Science and Technology

By urging researchers who utilize light to jointly conduct researches with light source developers under this strategic sector, organic cooperation and fusion between seeds in the field of optical and photo science and needs in other areas that have not been satisfactory are promoted and the following innovative outcomes are expected:

·Not only high-quality papers in each research field using light, but also innovative scientific findings such as establishment of a completely new idea can be obtained.
·The use of new light sources can make the seemingly-impossible possible, and allow solution and conquest of important technical subjects in each field.
·Expansion to industrial technology as a result of drawing more attentions from industry and initiating joint and contract research with new light sources.

Specific examples of expected accomplishments of individual research are listed below:

1) Research related to quantum control of atoms and molecules with ultrashort pulse light
Application to selective chemical reactions through regulation of amplitude and phase information of optical pulses, design of high temperature superconductors and elucidation of the mechanism of superconductivity based on the Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) phenomenon, utilization of optical lattice clocks as the frequency standard, etc.
2) Research using irradiation energy of ultrashort pulse light
Creation of new materials or conditions using irradiation energy of ultrashort pulse light, ultrasensitive and time-resolved analyzers using quantum beams such as X-ray and proton beams generated from plasma by irradiation of ultra-short pulse light, etc.
3) Research related to high-contrast and high-sensitivity imaging using light in unexplored wavelength regions
Continuous observation inside living cells using coherent soft X-rays in the water window region, actualization of high-resolution imaging and optical CT using wavefront compensation optics in the terahertz range, etc.

6. Scientific justification for the research and development goals

Advances in related fields of individual research are summarized as follows:

1) Research related to quantum control of atoms and molecules with ultrashort pulse light
Current research includes the following subjects: basic research related to pulse shaping for selective alteration of electron transition state and measurement of dynamic processes of chemical reactions in solution or on surfaces necessary for focused chemical reactions; control of BEC using thin gas; one-dimensional optic lattice clocks with a frequency precision of 15 digits.
2) Research using irradiation energy of ultrashort pulse light
Current research includes the following subjects: metamaterials and plasmonic devices using surface plasmons by irradiation of ultrashort pulse light, reforming of compositions inside or on the surface of materials, and acceleration of electrons and generation of quantum beams by ultrashort pulse light.
3) Research related to imaging using light in unexplored wavelength regions
Coherent X-rays with discrete wavelengths up to several tens of nanometers have been generated. Light in the wavelength region of 0.1 to 40 THz can be generated, and studies using the wavelength selectivity of such terahertz light are currently ongoing.

7. Considerations in achieving the research and development goals (research team organization, etc.)

This strategic sector focuses on application research that makes full use of new light sources in each prioritized area. To advance the achievements obtained in such application research further, research center-type projects for actualization of a completely new light source or metrology should be conducted in parallel under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
For efficient operation of these two different yet complementary research projects, the following research management systems should be established:

1. The manager of this project (application research) should operate and manage the research in collaboration with the above mentioned project.
2. Evaluation should include not only existing quantitative parameters such as the number of published papers and patent applications, but also emphasize the ripple effect on other fields and impacts on the society and economy.

(Reference) Political goals to be achieved in this project

The goal of this project is to allow researchers of each prioritized area who use specialized light (user researchers) to challenge the exploitation of a completely new direction and new area by using new light sources in a unique way. Therefore, user researchers promote research by making full use of distinctive light with support from light source developers who are familiar with the generation principle, performance, and metrology of new light sources.

1. Research related to quantum control of atoms and molecules with ultrashort pulse light
2. Research using irradiation energy of ultrashort pulse light
3. Research related to high-contrast and high-sensitivity imaging using light in unexplored wavelength regions

With research using these kinds of light-related tools, this project aims to create innovation using the state-of-the-art laser technology and obtain research achievements unique to Japan. Furthermore, groups of user researchers familiar with the characteristics of new light sources are expected to be formed and be trained by promoting this project.


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