Creation of Nanosystems with Novel Functions through Process Integration
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Supervisor, Research Area
Dr. Sone

Research Supervisor

Dr. Jun'ichi Sone
Vice-President, National Institute for Materials Science

Outline of research topic

  This Research Area aims at creation of next-generation nanosystems that produce novel functions by promoting evolution and integration of top-down processes such as photolithography and bottom-up processes based on self-organization.
  Specifically, this aims at development to build up technologies such as sensors, actuators, biochips, electronic and optical devices, and energy devices that bring breakthrough in the functions and performance, focusing on studies on novel functions produced by fusion of nanostructured devices, such as nanoelectronic circuits, Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and Nano Electro Mechanical Systems (NEMS) manufactured using top-down processes, and materials such as biological, organic, and self-organized materials, or studies on construction of functional bottom-up nanostructures as systems applicable to engineering. In addition, development of next-generation nanosystems based on the integration and optimization of these technologies is also taken into consideration in the promotion of research.

Research Supervisor's Policy on Call for Application, Selection and Management of the Research Area

  Research on forming nanostructures, elucidating their properties, and producing novel functions has shown steady progress. And, there is growing momentum toward applying the research results in engineering fields. Nanostructure functions have the potential to provide innovations in the devices and instruments for the information, telecommunication, environmental, energy, and life science fields. However, contrary to our expectations, the potential of nanostructures has not yet been fully developed into engineering and industrial applications.
  In this research area, we aim to create nanosystems with novel functions through the process integration. Integrating top-down and bottom-up nano-processes and fusing the knowledge of dissimilar fields are two important elements in the course of selecting and implementing research themes for this area. Below are the reasons for this.
  Until now, the tremendous growth of electronics has been brought about due to the rapid performance improvement of semiconductor devices by means of miniaturization. However, miniaturization with a top-down process has reached a few tens of nanometers, and it seems apparent that the miniaturization is approaching to its own technological and economical limitations. Therefore, in order to seek further miniaturization, bottom-up processes, such as the self-organizing formation of nanostructures utilizing autonomous chemical reactions, become inevitable. By combining bottom-up and top-down processes, nanostructure formation on atomic- and molecular-scale becomes possible. By this, we expect to achieve lower production costs, and to develop more nanosystems for use in broader applications.
  In order to realize a comfortable, safe, and sustainable future, it is essential to take full advantage of advanced information and telecommunication technologies. In the sophisticated future information society, a variety of sensors is placed around us, data from those sensors is uploaded via networks, and then a powerful computer system analyzes and processes such data to generate a huge knowledge base. People can receive the desired information at any time using various types of information terminals. In the future, diversified devices will be required, such as electronic and optical devices that enable high-speed data processing and communication, various types of sensors corresponding to our five senses, biochips that monitor health conditions at the real-time and molecular levels, and high-power batteries that function as the power source for those hardware. These man-machine interface devices will be compact in size, wearable, and in tagged-form. The fusion of cross-disciplinary knowledge and technology is vital to realize such diversified functions as mentioned above, and to successfully integrate these functions as nanosystems.
  The above only shows a part of the potential applications of nanosystems. Novel functions provided by nanosystems have vast potential that may bring innovations in the environmental and energy fields, as well as medical and healthcare.In this research area, we intend to pursue the full potential of next-generation nanosystems by conducting selected researches. We also encourage collaborative efforts between research teams, so that we can demonstrate the tremendous potential of next-generation nanosystems.
  This is the third - and last - call for proposals in this research area. As in past years, we welcome proposals realizing the use of nanosystems in broad sectors. Particularly, we seek challenging themes on the innovative applications of the nanosystems in the environmental and energy fields, and energy-saving technology in the electronics field. For the purpose of promoting engineering applications, proposals by the academia-industry partnership are also welcome.
  In addition, we accept research themes that aim to develop nanosystems with new possibilities of industrial applications, based on the basic technology developed in nano-technology related projects supported by CREST or other funding programs. The following is the key evaluation criteria:
- Ready to leverage the discriminating functions of nanostructure for the nanosystems.
- Has the potential to create innovation that can lead to new disciplines or new markets.
- Uses unique approaches to achieve these ideas, and supplies the data evidence to support them.
  Previously the fusion of top-down and bottom-up processes was definitely included in the criteria. But, at this time we would like to disregard it and rather put more weight on the use of the novel functions provided by nanostructure.
  To achieve the goals of this research area, we think it's very important to make an interim assessment after three years, as well as to make the selection of right proposals. Applicants should be aware that the project may be reviewed (or terminated in the worst case) if achieving the project's objectives is considered quite difficult.
  We expect aggressive research proposals from many scientists and researchers. Since this is the last call for proposals at this time, we look forward to ambitious proposals, particularly from younger researchers.
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