Summary of 5 National Institutes

Summary of 5 National Institutes

 The National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) consists of five inter-university research institutes: the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the National Institute for Fusion Sciences (NIFS), the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB), the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), and the Institute for Molecular Science (IMS). As a global research center in the eld of natural science promoting international and advanced research, we provide joint research and collaborative research for universities and other researchers all over the country. The result of our collaborative research contributes to strengthening Japanese research capabilities.

National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(NAOJ)

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Left:ALMA Telescope(© ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO))  Right:Subaru Telescope(Hawaii)

 Astronomy is one of the oldest and yet most active sciences. This means that human beings possess the fundamental desire to seek our origin and the reason for our existence through an understanding of the Universe. NAOJ utilizes our full strength to play a key role in establishing a new paradigm for understanding the Universe, the Earth, and life as a whole. For this purpose, we observe various objects, from the Earth to the most distant objects in the Universe, and we consider the fundamental theoretical laws behind the observed phenomena. We also develop new technology to support these activities.

Topics of Research 01:X-ray image of the Sun taken with "Hinode"

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 The Solar Observing Satellite Hinode has observed solar activity for more than ten years since its launch in 2006. The Sun is a typical star, but as our parent star it dominates the Solar System and facilitates life on the Earth. The Sun ininfluences all of our surroundings and activities. The images and data obtained with Hinode are released as soon as they are acquired and are used by solar and space weather researchers all over the world.

Topics of Research 02:Gravitational lens phenomena the "Eye of Horus"

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 The Subaru Telescope is undertaking a massive survey with Hyper Suprime-Cam to image a large area of the sky at an unprecedented depth. The Eye of Horus was discovered in images taken as part of this survey. A close inspection reveals two distinct arcs/rings of light with dierent colors. This strongly suggests that two distinct background galaxies are being lensed by the foreground galaxy. This extremely rare lens system oers a unique opportunity to probe the fundamental physics of galaxies and add to our understanding of cosmology.

核融合科学研究所:National Institute for Fusion Science(NIFS)


The inside of the LHD plasma vacuum vessel.

 One of the world's top priorities is undoubtedly to obtain an energy source that is eco-friendly and inexhaustible. If we can achieve on Earth the nuclear fusion that has powered the sun and the stars, human beings will gain that never-ending energy. Deuterium and tritium are currently expected to be the most favorable fuels for fusion. Deuterium and the lithium that is necessary for tritium production are found in seawater. Aiming at the early achievement of fusion energy, the National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) is advancing its research activities in fusion plasma and other targets infields of experimental research using the Large Helical Device (LHD), theory and simulation, and fusion engineering. NIFS is also playing an active role in mutual cooperation with universities and research organizations in Japan and abroad, and is producing excellent researchers.

Topics od Research 01:Research for high-temperature steady-state plasma in the LHD

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The LHD as seen from above. The LHD is 13.5m in diameter and 9.1m high. Many plasma heating systems and plasma measurement devices are attached to the LHD.

 The Large Helical Device (LHD) is the world's largest class of superconducting experiment devices for confining plasma. Using deuterium gas, the LHD achieves the ion temperature of more than 120 million degrees that is necessary for the fusion reaction. Helical devices have the advantages of controllability and steady state operation. The LHD project is advancing research in the physics of high-temperature steady-state plasma for achieving the future fusion reactor and in related fields of science and engineering. In addition to fusion research, the plasma generated by the LHD provides a platform for research in many fields from astrophysics to industrial applications.

Topics of Research 02:Computer simulation of plasma

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Simulation of the hydrogen diffusion behavior inside the divertor material receiving heat flux and particles from plasma.

 A fusion plasma is a typical complex system controlled by multi-physics and multi-time/space nonlinear processes, from macroscopic phenomena, such as plasma transport, to microscopic electron dynamics. In order to understand and systematize physical mechanisms in fusion plasmas, large-scale numerical simulation research has been carried out by utilizing the full capabilities of supercomputers. Based on this research and development, we promote large-scale simulation science, aiming at the ultimate realization of a helical numerical test reactor, which will be based on an integrated predictive model for plasma behavior over the whole machine range.

National Institute for Basic Biology(NIBB)


Various organisms to be studied at NIBB

 Among the innumerable celestial bodies in our universe, the earth appears unique in that it is filled with a variety of living organisms. Over the course of 4 billion years of evolution, animals and plants have acquired diverse forms as well as astonishing abilities, and continue to survive on this remarkable planet through the propagation of their offspring. The National Institute for Basic Biology promotes research to find the basic principles common to all creatures, and the mechanisms that enable diversity and allow life to adapt to changing environments.

Topics of Research 01:Exploring the environmental adaptation strategies of living things

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Environmental control system for plants.

 Living organisms haveflexibly adapted to various environments on Earth and have acquired various forms and abilities. Therefore, NIBB conducts research to ascertain the environmental adaptation strategies used by animals and plants, such as the mechanism of photosynthesis regulation that corresponds to constantly changing light intensity dependent on the weather, adaptation mechanisms for seasonal changes in living organisms and evolutionary mechanisms utilized by carnivorous plants in order to adapt to environments lacking nutritional sustenance. In addition to this, we also work on the development of new model organisms to decipher unknown phenomena such as the establishment of symbiotic relations among living organisms.

Topics of Research 02:Promotion of integrated bioimaging

スクリーンショット 2023-03-24 14.57.29.png Amoeba's movement captured by light sheetfluorescence microscopy

 At NIBB, we advance observation technology via the use of cutting edge microscopes such as light sheet fluorescence microscopes, multiphoton excitation fluorescence microscopes and IR-LEGO, as well as develop new technologies for image processing and statistical processing to analyze acquired images. We also conduct activities to support experimental design, image acquisition and data analysis in an integrated manner for researchers through collaborative research.

Topics of Research 03:Exploring the relationship between light and living organism using the Okazaki Large Spectrograph

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Various organisms to be studied at NIBB Large Spectrograph (Okazaki)

 The Okazaki Large Spectrograph projects a wavelength spectrum ranging from 250 nm (ultraviolet) to 1,000 nm (infrared) onto its 10 m focal curve with an intensity of monochromatic light at each wavelength which is more than twice as much as that of the corresponding monochromatic component of tropical sunlight at noon. The spectrograph is designed for action spectra analyses of various light-controlled biological processes.

National Institute for Physiological Sciences(NIPS)


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Left:Bundle of nerve fibers in the human brain

Upperside of Right Image:Ultra-high-eld 7-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system.

Downside of Right Image:Cross-sectional view of human brain imaged with 7T MRI. Vessels and nerves are depicted in units of 100 micrometers.

 The mission of NIPS is to conduct research at the forefront of physiological science by examining the living body at various levels of organization, leading to a holistic understanding of the functional mechanisms of the human body. Recent progress in life sciences has been truly remarkable, and there have been notably marked developments in molecular biology and genetic engineering. Non-invasive imaging techniques have also become very useful for clarifying the physiological functions of the human body. Recently, NIPS has been focusing on higher brain functions as one of the most important research targets, and it is now considered to be one of the best brain research institutes not only in Japan but also in the world. With the key phrase "Elucidation of the Functioning of the Human Body," NIPS is performing cutting-edge research in multiple fields, involving not only physiology but also biochemistry, molecular biology, morphology, cognitive science, information science, and medical engineering. NIPS oers its facilities and expert staff to domestic and foreign scientists for collaborative studies.

Topics of Research 01:2-photon uorescence lifetime imaging microscopy

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 Two-photonfluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (2pFLIM) can be used to measure and image the fluorophore-fluorophore interaction. This method enables us to monitor protein-protein interactions in tiny subcellular compartments of living cells in deep tissues, such as in brain slices. The right image is a fluorescence lifetime image of GFP-actin in a neuron of cultured hippocampal slices. GFP-actin and YFP mutant (YFPm) fused to actin were expressed and imaged by 2pFLIM. In the image, warmer color indicates actin polymerization. This data clearly shows that actin is highly polymerized in the dendritic spines, but not in the dendritic shaft.

Topics of Research 02:Phase Contrast Electron Cryomicroscope

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 Phase contrast electron cryomicroscopy is an electron microscope developed for observing close-to-life-state biological samples with a combination of rapid freezing and ice embedding sample preparation methods. Biological specimens up to 200 nm thicknesses can be observed with high-resolution and high-contrast. Ultrastructure analyses of protein molecules, viruses, bacteria, cultured cells and frozen tissue sections are performed with this microscopic system.

Institute for Molecular Science(IMS)

UVSORfigure.png The UVSOR synchrotron facility

 Molecular science is a field of science that aims at elucidating the essentials of intermolecular interactions and chemical reactions in which molecules change their shapes from both theoretical and experimental standpoints. The Institute for Molecular Science continues to provide opportunities of joint researches, in which the most advanced technology and instruments are accessible, for the researchers all over the world. To update our system continuously, we have established the Research Center of Integrative Molecular Systems and the Center for Mesoscopic Sciences, in addition to the four core departments of Theoretical and Computational, Photo, Materials, Life and Coordination-Complex Molecular Sciences. Collaborating with the 72 national university corporations all over Japan, we organize the Inter-University Network for Common Utilization of Research Equipments. In the network, researchers in universities, public research institutes and private enterprises can share the research equipment in participating institutions at reasonable cost.

Topics of Research 01:Creating novel molecular systems with analyzing logic which connects "molecules" and "molecular systems"

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 The Research Center of Integrative Molecular Systems (CIMoS) is dedicated to the important and interdisciplinary subject of "how the characteristics of each molecule are integrated into excellent functions of the molecular systems with higher-order structures." We learn the interlayer logic that links "individuals" and "assemblies" from life systems. We then aim at elucidating the principle of how the molecular systems develop their functions such as energy conversion, material conversion and life activities by exchanging energy or information in a concerted manner. CIMoS has a mission to be a base of common utilization of facilities and joint researches to create "molecular systems having flexible, robust and excellent functions." With the mission, CIMoS contributes to the society and advancement of science.

Topics of Research 02:Capturing the behavior of molecules with light

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 The unique functions of molecules are realized in such a condition as a variety of molecules, not as single molecules, exist with the manner that molecular characteristics and macroscopic features of assemblies interact with each other. The Center for Mesoscopic Sciences has been founded on April 2017. In the center, novel mesoscopic measurement methods have been developed and applied to various systems. This is indispensable in understanding, controlling and developing the functions in the mesoscopic space-time domain in which microscopic and macroscopic natures interact with each other. We work to aim at providing foundations of basic researches on theoretical analysis, development of light sources and novel measurement methods and their applications.