The aim of our laboratory is to analyze the higher-order structure of soft-matter materials using quantum beams (synchrotron radiation X-rays and neutrons). In particular, we use small-angle scattering and wide-angle diffraction methods to precisely investigate the structures of a wide range of sizes from angstrom to micron scale. We target a wide range of materials, from bulk to thin films of polymers, and we are particularly interested in self-assembly.
Self-assembly is a phenomenon in which atoms and molecules form their own structures. By elucidating and controlling the self-assembly of polymeric materials, we aim to improve the functionality of polymeric materials used in various fields, and to apply polymeric materials to new fields in preparation for Society 5.0. For example, we believe that it is important to control the structure formed by self-assembly of materials such as tires, organic glasses, and electronic device materials, even though they may seem unrelated at first glance. The process of forming these self-assemblies has a wade range of time and space scale and a complex interplay of various structural scales.
Quantum beam scattering/diffraction methods make it possible to elucidate the fast self-assembly processes on the wide range of spatial scales. Thus, we mainly conduct experiments using strong X-rays from synchrotron radiation facilities such as SPring-8 and neutrons from J-PARC. By analyzing the big data obtained from these experiments, we are clarifying the factors that improve the physical properties of polymer materials from the viewpoint of structure. More recently, we have been working not only on self-assembly but also on fracture phenomena of polymeric materials. For these structural analyses, we are also developing new measurement methods and equipment.