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1. Overview
In this ERATO, we will create novel “inorganic nanosolids” containing internal nanospaces,as unprecedented nanospace materials, and develop several methodologies for their effective integration with the aim of exploiting functions obtained based on the synergistic fusion of various supramolecular, photonic, and magnetic behaviors occurring in nanospace. We will cover a wide range of various porous systems such as metals, carbons, sulfides, phosphides, transition metal oxides, etc. We will efficiently combine ‘machine learning’ with our inorganic synthesis methods to accelerate the optimization of synthetic parameters for the design of target materials, and to select proper patterns of combination of each inorganic block for the integration of materials.
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2. Research Groups
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Inorganic building blocks (IBBs) are extremely useful as components for highly-ordered nanoarchitectures with functions designed to solve our energy and environmental problems. The number of IBBs available has always been too limited, however, to permit expansion of the varieties of nanoarchitectures. Group I will synthesize unique IBBs with defined morphological dimensionalities as well as generalize the synthesis procedures. Dimensionalities such as 0D, 1D and 2D will be advantageous for achieving further assembly to form highly-ordered nanoarchitectures. Many kinds of tailor-made building blocks will be supplied to the other groups throughout the period of this ERATO project.
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Group II will prepare new types of metal and metal-oxide materials in order to establish ultra-strong light-matter interactions. We aim to develop inexpensive large-area surfaces possessing enhanced photonic, thermal and magnetic properties for photo-(electro)catalysis and sensing. This group will work closely with the other groups to develop hybrid composite self-assembled materials with optical functionality. Additionally, we will attempt novel organic syntheses promoted by heat originating from localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) activity in mesoporous metal films. This will involve the use of mesopores as “nano-flasks”. The goal of our work is to develop nano-flasks to serve as portable, light-driven systems for multi-step reactions.
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Materials composed of hybrid components are critical for the introduction of novel properties based on synergies of interactions and their properties on the nanoscale. On the other hand, molecules and molecule-sized moieties can be used to control nano-level structures to affect not only the local structures but also the interfacial and bulk forms of composite materials. Based largely on molecular precursors, we will develop syntheses of molecules, their self-assemblies and their organic-inorganic composites and establish their nanoscale structures. This will be performed with an emphasis on developing nanoscale hybridization of the resulting materials towards multifunctional synergies of the final products. The materials’ synthesis will be developed further by applying post-synthesis processing techniques such as thermolysis to develop the products as carboniferous hybrids with superior potential as materials for energy-related applications. For the latter, an initial emphasis will be placed on establishing nanoscale structures based on the forms of the precursors to facilitate control of the final nanostructure property relationships.
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The development of nanoporous inorganic materials has relied heavily on a trial-and-error approach based on the researchers’ chemical intuition. Working closely with the other groups, Group IV will apply Materials Informatics (MI) techniques to accelerate the discovery of new nanomaterials and hybrids with optimized properties and performances. In particular, an active learning scheme employing statistical machine learning techniques (e.g., Bayesian optimization) will be implemented to optimize the experimental conditions. In addition, by coupling these techniques with high-throughput synthesis and in-situ/operando characterizations, we aim to create a first-of-its-kind database for materials space-tectonics. With this database, we will apply MI models to correlate the physical and chemical characteristics of (hybridized) nanomaterials with their performances, enabling us to identify which “intrinsic” properties of materials and systems have the strongest influence on the final performance.
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Materials discovery is a bedrock area of research and development leading to a more affluent, more productive society. Group V is responsible for evaluating the fundamental electrochemical properties of nanomaterials and their hybrids. It is developing novel high-throughput electrochemical evaluation systems to test materials and discover useful catalysts for fuel cells, water electrolysis, and CO2 reduction, as well as active materials for batteries. Its ultimate goal is to create practical energy conversion and storage devices. Consequently, this group will serve as a bridge between the ERATO project and its various groups to accelerate development of new technologies to generate energy for a sustainable society.