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Right-click to download the 'TNT Japan podcast' (14.6 MB MP3)

For many, Japan is a tech mecca with an appetite for technological innovation and high-end consumerism that forms a mystifying yet marvellous alliance with the country’s rich historic culture and deeply entrenched traditions. No wonder perhaps that Tokyo is home to the world’s largest annual industry event for nanotechnology. This year for the first time the conference Trends in Nanotechnology joined the throngs at the Tokyo Convention site where nanotech 2014 was hosted during nanoweek. The conference attracted a dazzling host of pioneers in nanoscale science and technology who exchanged ideas at the forefront of the field during three days of talks and poster sessions.

The conference was organized by the Phantoms Foundation in collaboration with the National Institute of Materials Nanoarchitectonics at the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan (MANA/NIMS). For more from the conference organizers, speakers and the delegates themselves click the link to the podcast above where they describe what interests them most at TNT Japan, as well as some insights into the unique opportunities and challenges for nanotechnology researchers in Japan.

Highlights from talks at TNT Japan

The formal line-up included an opening plenary from Sumio Iijima, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Meijo University in Nagoya and pioneer of research in carbon nanotubes. His talk highlighted some of the progress in synthesizing carbon nanotubes with tailored properties. He also described some promising results of research into developing carbon nanotube technology for real-world applications, including a mobile phone touchscreen exploiting these materials.

Uzi Landman, Director of the Georgia Tech Center for Computational Materials Science, stressed the importance of calculations in work to understand and control nanoscale systems. He gave some examples of emergent behaviour where nanoscale components produce characteristics at the macroscale, introducing analogies to the combined efforts of individual insects in ant rafts.

Properties that result from interactive contributions of a system’s components were also discussed by James Gimzewski of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and WPI Center for Materials NanoArchitectonics (MANA) in Japan. His discussion of self-organization and emergent phenomena in neuromorphic atomic switch networks was followed by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa from the National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS) and also a MANA researcher. Hasegawa described some of the innovative research on solid Ag2S electrolytes that behave as artificial synapses and can mimic the long- and short-term memory observed in the human brain. (For more developments in synaptic electronics research see the recent special issue in Nanotechnology).

There were many other descriptions of impressive new technologies such as artificial bacteria with multiflagella for high motility. As Gilgueng Hwang from LPN-CNRS in France described, these nanoscale robotic swimmers may be used in microfluidic channels for biological and biomedical applications. Genki Yoshikawa from MANA/NIMS highlighted another biomedical innovation with a membrane-type sensor that could test for cancer from breath. The sensor's high sensitivity and specificity could also distinguish between animal meat from different animals and meat of different qualities.

Featured on the podcast

Antonio Correia President of the Phantoms Foundation who organises the TNT conferences talks about why TNT has come to Japan and the future outlook for TNT conferences in Asia.

Makato Sakurai materials nanoarchitectonics (MANA) scientist at the National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS)in Japan talks about his research on surface science and functionality of oxides and inorganic materials.

Yujio Okawa MANA scientist at NIMS talks about his research working towards single molecular devices.

Hisham Mahmoudi ICYS-MANA Researcher talks about his research in polyvalent materials and what attracted him to Japan.

Gemma Rius, Assistant Professor at Nagoya Institute of Technology talks about her research on nanodevices and carbon nanomaterials and provides some insights on priorities for researchers who are thinking of pursuing their work in Japan.

Juan José Sáenz Professor at the Condensed Matter Department of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid talks about his research on optical forces on nanoparticles and talks about his involvement with TNT conferences since the series began 15 years ago.

Stephan Roche talks about his research in charge transport in nanomaterials and what he enjoys about the approach to research in Japan.

Benjamin (Sunhyung) Hwang a student in the Department of Electronic Engineering at Hanyang University in Korea talks about his research in tactile sensors.