Nano scale, mega impact: The University of Tsukuba’s Nanoscience course offers big insights into small materials
From the iridescent beauty of a butterfly’s wings to the Spiderman-like ‘stickability’ of a gecko’s feet, many phenomena in the natural world arise from physical properties that operate on the scale of nanometers.
In modern science, the fields of nanotechnology and nanoscience build on these kinds of natural effects to generate remarkable innovation and fast-paced technological development in fields as diverse as biomedical imaging, renewable energy and quantum computing. Indeed, nanoscience has emerged as a multidisciplinary field that is distinct from the related disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology and materials engineering and thus requires specifically trained professionals.
The University of Tsukuba has developed a Nanoscience Masters course aimed at training the next generation of ‘nano’ practitioners. The program consists of coursework and a research component. Students are expected to complete three compulsory subjects, six core elective subjects and 11 specialized subjects as well as conduct an original research project, within the two-year duration of the course. This course aims to instill graduates with three broad attributes — theoretical competence, practical capability and research experience.
The theoretical subjects include quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, semiconductor science, X-ray and solid-state physics. The engineering-based subjects combine practical insights into optics, nanoelectronics, nanomaterials, semiconductors, solids and surface engineering with hands-on experience through courses on characterization techniques like transmission electron microscopy. Particular attention is paid to surface and defect engineering — to construct materials that take advantage of the unique properties resulting from nanomaterials’ high surface-area-to-volume ratios. The Science in Japan and Research in Applied Physics courses are geared towards training students with the research skills and experience required to undertake independent academic research in Japan.
Students of the two-year program, which is taught in English, have the opportunity to work with a distinguished faculty, which is shared with the doctoral program for applied physics. The University of Tsukuba’s Nanoscience course is supervised by Professor Masahide Itoh, whose laboratory focuses on broadband light-wave correlations, optical trapping and optical information processing using photorefractive effects. Also involved is Professor Toshiaki Hattori, who studies the science and technology of terahertz radiation — an area that is of particular importance due to its potential for medical imaging. Professor Akira Uedono, who is also involved in supervision, undertakes slow positron beam analysis of thin insulating film distortions. Professor Katsuhiro Akimoto heads a semiconductor materials design laboratory.
Located in the middle of Tsukuba Science City, a planned science precinct, the University of Tsukuba offers many opportunities for collaborative work. Graduates of the Nanoscience Masters program, having gained a strong grounding in the multidisciplinary ‘science of the small’, will be poised to make giant strides in the research-and-development fields of the future.
For more information about this program, please click here.