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Director's Message

April, 2023
Director HIROI, Zenji

Established at the University of Tokyo (UT) in 1957 as a research institute to be utilized jointly by researchers from all over Japan, the Institute for Solid State Physics (ISSP) has served as Japan's core research institute in materials science for over 65 years. In 2000, ISSP moved from its original Roppongi Campus to the spacious Kashiwa Campus. In 2010, after UT became a national university corporation in 2004, ISSP received accreditation as a Joint Usage/Research Center for materials science under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's Joint Usage/Research Center System. With the aim of "pursuing scientific principles and contributing to science and technology by promoting advanced basic research in materials science", and with the support of the condensed matter community, ISSP has consistently worked on three pillars: research, education, and joint use/research.

Materials science studies and advances understandings of the diverse properties of various materials at the level of their microscopic constituents, i.e., atoms, molecules, and electrons. A diamond’s hardness derives from the strong chemical bonding of carbon atoms with each other, the electric and magnetic properties, on the other hand, reflect the characteristics of electrons. Acting according to the laws of quantum mechanics, electrons sometimes behave as particles and sometimes as waves. A particle as small as an electron is not a resident of the familiar world of Newtonian mechanics that can explain why the apple falls off the tree, but of the mysterious world of quantum mechanics. Amazingly, when, aggregated, the myriad electrons in solids can exhibit peculiar phenomena that cannot be predicted from the properties of a single electron. The most obvious example is superconductivity. This is a state in which electrical resistance is completely zero below a critical temperature. Superconducting properties enable devices that are providing societal benefits such as high field magnets for MRI and magnetic levitation trains. Given the properties exhibited by matter are diverse, and given materials science has many phenomena yet to be elucidated, there are even more unknown phenomena and functions to be discovered. For example, gaining a sophisticated understanding of the behavior of molecules and electrons can better explain the functions exhibited by many substances in living organisms.

The technological innovations that will lead to solutions for modern society for issues such as energy and the environment and bring about real breakthroughs cannot be achieved without a foundation of steady basic research. The ISSP explores basic science to comprehend the various properties of materials and, through the discovery of unknown phenomena, to link this to applied research that is beneficial to society.

Studying the properties of materials requires: the organic combining of synthesis techniques to create a variety of samples ranging from large crystals to nano-sized materials; precision measurements to examine the obtained samples using various techniques under special environments such as strong magnetic fields and high pressure; large-scale experimental facilities utilizing quantum beams such as synchrotron radiation and neutrons; and understanding of the experimental results using human wisdom and large-scale simulations via supercomputers.

The ISSP is a world-class, materials-focused research institute that achieves these goals at a high level, and functions as a Center of Excellence for materials science research. Furthermore, the ISSP provides a rich research environment to the materials science community through the joint-use program, attracting many researchers from all over the country to use its experimental equipment. The new breeze of ideas and scientific seeds that are brought to the ISSP are developed into further cutting-edge research. As a result of this movement of people, researchers are encouraged to collaborate and exchange ideas, which benefits all researchers, but especially young ones.

The current ISSP is the third generation since the last reorganization in 1996. The environment surrounding us during that quarter of a century has changed dramatically, and academic trends have shifted markedly. In order to adapt to these changes and to open up a new future, we are now in the process of laying the foundation for the fourth generation. The Institute for Solid State Physics is determined to see where the future of materials science will take us, and our faculty, staff, and students are united in our efforts toward further development. We look forward to your continued understanding and support.