Professor Shiki Yagai
Have you ever heard the words "nano" or "micro?" Both generally mean "small," but in scientific research, nano refers to nm (10-9 meters) and micro refers to ?m (10-6 meters). Nanomaterials are materials with a controlled structure on the nanometer scale. They can now be fabricated via a "bottom-up method," in which molecules are constructed and assembled using organic synthesis and self-organization techniques. On the other hand, micromaterials can be fabricated using a "top-down method," in which large materials are micromachined using laser lithography, 3D printing, and other techniques.
Currently, a great amount of research interest is focused on scales that cannot be reached by either the bottom-up or top-down methods. This scale is called the mesoscale region?between the nano- and microscale regions. Materials in the mesoscale range are difficult to structure using either of the aforementioned methods, and the development of such materials has not been adequately researched. However, mesoscale structures are very important. For example, life is sustained only because of the hard work of mesoscale "bio-machines" that exist in vast numbers within cells and bodies.
This research focuses on the artificial fabrication of mesoscale-sized machines. For this purpose, we utilize a novel bottom-up method called "curved self-organization." This technique enables the development of various meso-sized components, such as rings, helices, and chains, which were difficult to fabricate in the past. Further, light-responsive molecules are incorporated within these components, enabling the manipulation of their structures using light. These components are then combined to create more complex devices, ultimately creating meso-machines. Meso-machines are a new technology that are expected to play an active role in bio-related research and medical fields, as they enable the direct capture and transport of cells, proteins, and other substances. By promoting this research, we believe that we will be the first research group in the world to develop "mesotechnology" using the ultimate self-organization technology.