The Institute for Solid State Physics (ISSP) was established in 1957 as a joint-use research institute attached to the University of Tokyo. At the time of its foundation, Japan had been devastated by the World War II. The research activity was suffering from the lack of appropriate resources and infrastructures and was lagging behind the other advanced nations. The materials scientists in those days made a decision to concentrate the limited resources to establish a world-level joint-use research institute. The ISSP was thus founded. Established as such, the ISSP in its initial phase tried to cover all the major fields of solid state science so as to help the Japanese research community catch up the rest of the world. This "first generation" of ISSP lasted about two decades from the establishment through the 1970's.
By the end of 1970's, owing to Japan's economical growth, the general condition of laboratories in universities was much improved, and the role of ISSP was duly shifted from a mere joint-use laboratory to a more sophisticated research hub. The ISSP committed itself to focused investments on developments of advanced experimental techniques and installation of state-of-the-art facilities for research in condensed matter physics and materials science. To make the most of the investments, the ISSP restructured itself in 1980 to enter the "second generation" so as to attack on the following five research frontiers: ultra-high magnetic fields, laser physics, surface science, ultra-low temperatures, and very high pressures. Laboratory buildings for these extreme conditions were built in the Roppongi campus. The Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory and the Neutron Scattering Laboratory were established during the second generation of ISSP.
In 1990's, the University of Tokyo began serious consideration of acquisition of a new campus in addition to those at Hongo and Komaba. It was in congruence with the governmental initiative for relocation of some of the governmental institutions in midtown Tokyo to suburban areas, and was materialized as the Kashiwa campus. By then, ISSP has realized that there is no room for further installation of the state-of-art experimental facilities in Roppongi campus. Thus, the ISSP decided to be the first institute to move into the Kashiwa campus. With the relocation to the new Kashiwa campus in sight, the ISSP underwent the second major reorganization in 1996. Prior to the reorganization, an external evaluation by an international review committee was held in 1995. With the endorsement to the research plans for the "third generation" by the review committee, the construction of the new research buildings began in 1998 and the actual relocation started in 1999 and completed in March 2000.
In the "third generation", the ISSP seeks to reinforce its role as the center of excellence in the field of basic condensed matter physics and materials science by making full use of the research expertise and resources cumulated over the second generation. It also seeks to become an international as well as domestic research hub. To this end, the visiting faculty positions for both international and domestic researchers have been expanded so as to offer more opportunities for those interested in conducting research in collaboration with the in-house staffs and using the facilities of ISSP. The ISSP also offers opportunities post-doc positions for young researchers.
The ISSP underwent the second major evaluation by an international review committee in 2005, after 5 years of operation in Kashiwa. In the review, evaluation was given on the research accomplishments utilizing facilities newly installed at the time of relocation, and comments and suggestions were given on the future directions of research activity and management of ISSP. There are several near-future projects ranging from the actual construction stage to the planning stage. The one currently in the final stage of construction is the long-pulse high magnetic field laboratory, which, when completed, will offer a versatile platform for experiments in high magnetic field, and will constitute a comprehensive International MegaGaus Science Laboratory for high magnetic field research together with the existing short-pulse megagauss field installation. Another project vigorously promoted is the Advanced Coherent Light Laboratory which is envisaged as a laser facility enabling experiments in the unexplored realm of short wavelength, ultrafast and high peak power.
The ISSP saw its 50th anniversary in 2007, and is now taking a step forward to the future. It is a good occasion for us to reflect on the mission, past accomplishments, and future strategy of the ISSP, so as to keep making substantial contributions to the advancement of basic science in the relevant fields with the synergy of the in-house staffs and the research communities.