1. YNU Faculty of Engineering
  2. Research



Yoichi Sumi, Fumihiko Nakamura

The Research: Its Purpose & Approach
With the aim of studying, in a cross-disciplinary fashion, innovations that can contribute to a sustainable development of oceans and coastal urban areas, research is being carried out under two subthemes:
Innovation in Marine- and Coastal Technologies Aimed at Achieving Harmony with the Environment
Under this subtheme, maritime research is underway including maritime engineering, coastal engineering, and other areas in conjunction with "Center for Oceanic Studies and Integrated Education" ( COSIE), a university-wide educational and research facility that combines the disciplines of social and natural sciences, and engineering. Current research topics include "Natural Resource & Energy Development in Arctic and Deep Seas," "Innovation in Ocean Freight Logistics," "Ballast Water Issues," "Durability Control Based on Simulations," "Ship Maintenance Based on Residual-Life Assessment and Cost/Benefit Analysis," "Creating Coastal Environment," etc. Research in engineering fields are primarily funded by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, whereas joint cross-disciplinary educational and research activities with Ocean Center are funded by a special fund from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT) and by grants from Nippon Foundation.

Innovation in Technology for Management of Autonomous-Cooperative Urban Areas
With a group of researchers in civil-engineering and architectural planning as primary drivers, two research themes of "Social Capital Management Incorporating New Concepts and Technology" and "Regional Innovation" together with the GIS platform form a foundation for multiple practical projects that, in partnership with Global-Local Education & Research Center, focus on Yokohama and Kanagawa area. These projects set out to combine and integrate research in elemental technology, including port disaster-prevention & safety, bridge monitoring, etc., with research in urban revival in such "fields" as Yokohama Station West Entrance/Exit, Hazawa Shin Station, and Atsugi. The goal of these research efforts is to explore and expand new fields of knowledge.


Junichi Koizumi, et al.

This research project involving three different Departments of YNU sets "stress" as a core concept in applying nanotechnology to biological research, and aims to create new fields of nanobiotechnology.

As for drug delivery, we established in AY2010 the techniques to modify magnetic nanoparticles with functional groups. Some original research based on these techniques, such as "Magnetic Nanoparticles for Application in Hyperthermic Treatments" and "Creating Vector-Free iPS Cells by Utilizing Magnetic Nanoparticles," were published and got world's attention.

The results of the research project was was selected by Japan Science and Technology Agency as a Strategic Basic Research Program, and presented as "Developing Magnetic Nanoparticles for Medical Applications" in January, 2010 in the Tetsumon Memorial Hall at the University of Tokyo.

The project is realizing the imaging of differentiation signals in stem cells by the use ot "Functionalized Nanoparticles-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Techniques" and "Localization of Magnetic Nanoparticles in a Living Body" combination and other research results hitherto obtained.


Shigenori Mitsushima, Koichi Matsuzawa

Developing Non-Precious Metal Oxide-Based Catalyst for Fuel Cells
If a society becomes a reality that uses for its energy source hydrogen that is obtained by water electrolysis that is powered by renewable energy like solar and wind, it would be an ideal society that makes it possible for the human race to develop in a sustainable manner. We call this kind of hydrogen "green hydrogen." Hydrogen only produces water when used as a fuel, which goes back to nature and will be recirculated. As a high-efficiency energy conversion device, fuel cells that use hydrogen as a fuel are attracting attention.

Currently, the most widely talked about fuel cells are what are known as the "solid high-polymer fuel cells." In 2008, a fuel cell for residential use dubbed EneFarm hit the Japanese market before anywhere else in the world, and by August, 2011, approximately 20,000 units were in operation. Besides residential use as a cogeneration device, research and development is fiercely underway worldwide on its use as an automotive power source, in which a cation exchange membrane and platinum catalyst a few nanometer in diameter are used. One nanometer is one one-billionth of a meter. Earth is to one meter, what a mini soccer ball is to one nanometer. As this comparison makes clear, extremely small amounts of platinum are used. Nonetheless, all the platinum Earth is said to contain fills up a 25m swimming pool only one and a half times. Which leads us to conclude that with today's technology, it is impossible to replace all the automobiles in the world with fuel cell vehicles.

In addition, even though platinum has been considered to be stable, it has become clear that under those conditions in which automobiles operate, its performance level drops due, for instance, to melting. To popularize fuel cell vehicles in earnest, we need a catalyst that replaces platinum (precious metal). Since about ten years ago, our research team has been studying and developing non-precious-metal materials that withstand acid and work as electrode catalyst. Through this effort, we became the first in the world to discover that group 4 and 5 oxide-based materials with oxygen vacancies possess extremely high catalyst activity as shown in "Structure of Tantal-based Catalysts" and we have been successful in bringing their performance level close to that of platinum. Our study and development efforts going forward will forge ahead with the primary focus on these revolutionary materials.

Structure of Tantal-based Catalysts  Trend in Activity of New Catalysts


Ryuji Kono, et al.

This theme is being pursued as Global COE (see p. 10)


Hitoshi Habuka, et al.

Toward Building a Platform to Assess Power Modules
We are developing technology to implement next-generation power devices, which will be key components for a low-carbon society. With the goal of commercializing a technology that sprang from YNU's Interdisciplinary Project, Kanagawa Prefecture and Kanagawa Science & Engineering Academy have been expanding efforts in a three-year plan since 2008 on a joint research enterprise that brought together local industry, academia, and government. Thanks to these efforts, prospects look pretty good today, for encapsulants with high thermostability to more than 200 degrees Celsius and for power cycle reliability evaluation. Furthermore, so as to prove the developmental technology, twenty- seven domestic companies have been mobilized in cooperation with Kanagawa Industrial Technology Center and Yokohama Jisso ("implementation") Consortium (YJC), to launch the KAMOME ("seagull") Project that aims to establish a power module assessment platform.


Atsuo Kawamura, Hajime Takada, Shoji Maruo

This project consists of the following three research groups, each of which promotes coordinated interdisciplinary research in leading edge technology:

(1) Micromotility (Maruo Group )
(2) Mutual Development of Man & Machine (Takada Group)
(3) Humanoid Robots (Kawamura Group)

We will mainly report on research findings of the Micromotility Group this year. This Group is committed to basic and application research on micro devices that help build a more comfortable society in the future, such as wearable devices and Labs-on-Chip. This academic year, the Group developed a photoelectrically-driven micro machine (Fig. 1) that uses three orders of magnitude less light to operate. Furthermore, a new material was developed that can be controlled not just by electric field but also by light and temperature, which is accomplished by using a special liquid (ionic liquid) and polymer (Fig. 2). Research is also underway on micro machines that use magnetic nanoparticles, nano-scale morphological control on photoresponsive amorphous molecules, and so on.

Photoelectrically-driven micro machine

Photoactuator in operation in ionic liquid

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