As the World Spins: Materials Science And Spintronics Kick-off Symposium

Tohoku University hosted a symposium on materials science and spintronics on February 19 - 20, bringing together international experts from a range of related disciplines.

The event also served as a kick-off symposium for organisers Advanced Institute for Materials Research (AIMR) and Research Institute of Electrical Communication (RIEC), components of the university's new Core Research Cluster.


At the opening ceremony, President Susumu Satomi spoke of Tohoku University's honour at being named a Designated National University by the Japanese Government in June 2017. It is one of only three - alongside University of Tokyo and Kyoto University - to be selected under this new system, which the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) hopes will raise the standard of Japanese institutions.

"With this designation, it becomes possible for us to invest in companies that use our research results, obtain revenue from business, raise salary standards and offer more favourable working conditions to eminent foreign professors," said President Satomi. "These benefits will, in turn, help us develop research activities that can better contribute to the international community."

The first plenary session of the symposium included a lecture by David D. Awschalom, deputy director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering and a professor in spintronics and quantum information at the University of Chicago. He spoke on the growing interest in exploiting the quantum properties of electronic and nuclear spins for the manipulation and storage of information.

Alfio M. Quarteroni, the director of the Chair of Modelling and Scientific Computing at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology engaged the audience by demonstrating how the interplay between data science and computational science can help solve real life large scale problems in areas such as medicine and sports.

"There are many people here who are leaders in their fields, and listening to them, I was impressed by how interconnected everything is," said Andrea Vergara, a research student from Chile working on micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) at Tohoku University.

In the second session, Director of AIMR Motoko Kotani outlined the history and achievements of materials research at Tohoku University and the development of mathematics and materials science collaboration. While Director of RIEC Hideo Ohno spoke on nano-spintronics devices for integrated circuits and artificial intelligence.

"The importance of a symposium like this, is that it brings together different communities - people who work in materials, physics, electrical engineering - and makes you think about how, if you mix these disciplines, you can make advances in all of the applications," said Awschalom. "There are very few symposia that bring these communities together, so I think the one here is very unusual and very special."

Although much of the symposium featured the presentation and exchange of high level research ideas, there was also a chance for young researchers to introduce their work.

On the second day, some 30 young researchers were given 3 minutes each to pitch their research topics on stage, before presenting their posters at the exhibition hall. "I see this as a great opportunity to see what everyone is working on," said Amit Chanda, associate professor of physics at the National University of Singapore. "I came here hoping to meet with other researchers, discuss my work, and learn about theirs, maybe see if there are any opportunities for collaboration."


The new Designated National University status was referred to often, both on stage and during casual discussions.

Shin-ichi Orimo, a professor at the Institute for Materials Research (IMR), said that the symposium was a good way to spread the word about what being a Designated National University is all about.

"Many people are still learning about this new status," he said, "so it's a good chance to share the information, not just with participants from overseas, but with Tohoku University's own young researchers as well."


Tohoku University International Affairs Center
Tel: +81 22 217-5971

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