You are here: HOME > Feature Topics

Feature Topics

Return to list

Elements Strategy Initiative (Integrated Action Initiative)

**About the Elements Strategy Initiative (Integrated Action Initiative)**(Jump to the bottom of the page)

Magnetic Materials
Host Institution: National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS)
Lead Researcher: Satoshi Hirosawa (Research Fellow, Magnetic Materials Unit, NIMS)

Objective: To develop new magnets, free from rare earth elements, which can replace and have the same properties as the rare-earth magnets currently widely used in applications such as magnetic storage media and motors for trains and electric vehicles.

Catalytic and Battery Materials
Host Institution: Kyoto University
Lead Researcher: Tsunehiro Tanaka (Professor, Department of Molecular Engineering, Kyoto University Graduate School of Engineering)

Objective: To develop substitute materials that do not contain precious metals or rare earth elements for use in rechargeable batteries and battery catalysts which are an integral part of a wide range of products including automobiles, aircrafts, laptop computers, and cell phones.

Electronic Materials
Host Institution: Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech)
Lead Researcher: Hideo Hosono (Professor, Frontier Research Center, Tokyo Tech [joint appointment in Materials & Structures Laboratory, Tokyo Tech])

Objective: To establish a new approach to materials science that combines fundamental physics, computational science, and advanced analysis technologies; and to develop low environmental impact materials that do not use rare earth elements for use in the electronic parts of semiconductor devices, which form the basis of the electrical and electronic industries.

Structural Materials
Host Institution: Kyoto University
Lead Researcher: Isao Tanaka (Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Kyoto University Graduate School of Engineering)

Objective: To reexamine the doping mechanism, which typically uses rare earth elements and precious metals as the dopant, and to discover new dopants that can lend high levels of both strength and ductility to a material. Despite its mechanism still not being fully understood, doping is a common technique in materials research and development, where a particular element is added to the material to improve properties such as strength, corrosion resistance, and chemical reactivity.

About the Elements Strategy Initiative and its Goals: Purpose and Content

The Elements Strategy Initiative: Integrated Action Initiative is enacted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, with the aim of supporting the formation of research hubs, where studies will be conducted on creating innovative materials that do not contain rare or toxic elements.

The Initiative is an expansion of the Elements Strategy Initiative that started in 2007. Up until now, the research projects selected for the Elements Strategy Initiative were conducted on a single-laboratory level. At this level, however, there is a limit on conducting long-term cutting-edge research. To keep fierce worldwide competition at bay, research findings must be immediately connected to the next challenge, and the focus must always be on the future. If not, other countries will produce results that surpass those of Japan, stymieing progress within Japan.
For this reason, Japan needs to establish a nationwide system where industries, government, and academia work as one to streamline the processes of obtaining fundamental results and translating them into real-life applications.
With the expansion of the Elements Strategy Initiative, focusing now on integrated action, this national strategy will support even larger-scale research efforts to create innovative functional materials.

Additionally, electron theory has been added as one of the research areas for the initiative, as representative of the theoretical sciences. Electron theory can be used to determine how different physical factors affect the properties of a material, providing fundamental support in the design and creation of materials with novel functions. Previously, the fields of electron theory and material creation had little interaction, but in these research centers, electron theory is expected to play a crucial role in supporting material-creation research. This is made possible by establishing three research groups in each center: Theoretical Physics Group, Materials Processing Group, and Structural and Property Characterization Group . These three groups are required to collaborate closely in research and development.