Research laboratories, where external project teams conduct cutting-edge research, are located within Miraikan. It is extremely rare to find such research laboratories placed inside a public accessible science museum.
The introduction of ongoing projects
Photoelectric Conversion Project
Organic semiconductors used in solution-processed organic photovoltaics (OPV) need to fulfill the following requirements: i) strong photoabsorption in the visible and NIR region of the solar spectrum; ii) high stability towards light, heat and air; iii) sufficient solubility to allow solution processing; and iv) strong intermolecular interaction in the solid state for efficient charge transfer. We design and synthesize donor and acceptor materials with these rules in mind, as well as fabricate OPV devices with the goal of achieving high efficiency and low-cost solar cells. In addition, we apply metal oxides that exhibit novel electronic properties in OPV devices, serving as semiconducting interlayers as well as protecting the active layers from air and water degradation.
Department of chemistry, School of Science, The University of Tokyo
Human Symbiotic Robot Project
Recognizing environment is vital function for autonomous mobile robot in human environment. We are studying about embedded intelligent robots witch have many perception/planning/control functions that require real-time operating system. For example, 3D mapping from robot in motion, self-localization and path planning using the map, vision and auditory functions for interaction with environment, semantics understanding from observed surrounding information, and so on. By combining those functions as a real-time system, the robot can autonomously decide its behavior depending on the situation.
Human Informatics Research Institute
National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
Displaying 3D Contents into Free Space Project
The mechanism behind the existing 3D display creates a quasi 3D image on 2D space by taking advantage of human binocular disparity. Yet this led to problems such as restriction of eyesight and physiological discomfort. In order to overcome these problems, this project aims to develop a device for "3D display with real imagery" which allows us to view 3D images in a real 3D space.
This device will be able to project 3D images comparable to when high-tech devices appear in science fiction movies by forming dot array in the air while three-dimensionally controlling the focal point of the laser beam which utilizes plasma emission.
Aerial Systems Inc. R&D
Humanoid robots provide several advantages including being able to work in hazardous environments where humans cannot enter, and being able to utilize its anthropomorphic body to carry out various tasks by making use of environments and tools designed for humans. However, when a robot encounters unforeseen situations, human instruction regarding tool selection or suitable action target, or human intervention for providing guidance is required. In order to be able to adapt to such situations, we have been working on research and development of teleoperated humanoid systems that allow humans to guide the robot's attention and issue commands to help achieve its goals. We have been performing experiments on teleoperating humanoids through ordinary internet connections from locations such as the University of Tokyo Hongo campus for applications ranging from remote assistance for seniors to emergency disaster response.
Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo
Superhuman Sports Project
Superhuman Sports is a new form of "Human-Computer Integration" to overcome somatic and spatial limitation of humanity by merging technology with the body. In Japan, official home of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, we hope to create a future of sports where everyone, strong or weak, young or old, abled or disabled, can play and enjoy playing without being disadvantaged. Technology empowers us to overcome the biological barriers of individuals and of our specie, so we can truly be equal athletes in the arena of super-human sports. But not to make athleticism invalid; like Circus or the extreme games, super human sports aims to push human performance into new peaks.
Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo / Superhuman Sports Society
Cyber Living Lab | Embodied Media Project
In the ACCEL Embodied Media Project, we will develop a compact and integrated tactile sensation transmission module based on the principle of haptic primary colors. By making it widely available to industrial and general users, we promote the early creation of products and services based on the recording, transmission, and reproduction of physical experiences with haptic sensations. We plan to build two demonstration systems: one is an embodied content platform with consideration of practical applications in the fields of broadcasting and entertainment, and the other is an embodied telexistence platform, which enables the emergence of new industries, such as a telework industry using alter-ego robots. We will intend to foster innovations with social and economic impacts through the proposed systems.
Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo / Project Research Fellow, Institute of Gerontology
Associate Professor，Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University
Multisensory Communication Project
It is important to perceive others' emotion to facilitate successful social interactions. We investigate how human perceive others' emotion from face and voice, and how it is different among cultures. In our earlier study, we found that Japanese people rely more on voice than European people. The current project aims to uncover how emotion perception develops during childhood and how culture shapes our brain. These findings will lead to applications for better cross-cultural communication and a new technology to "translate" emotion between different cultures.
Department of Psychology, Tokyo Woman's Christian University
Mitochondrial Biogenesis Project
Mitochondria have an essential role in producing cellular energy, like the power plant of the cell. Mitochondrial biogenesis is ensured by the import of constituent proteins and lipids from the cytosol. Recent studies have revealed that mitochondrial structures are highly regulated and they exchange metabolites with other organelles via inter-organelle contacts. In our project, we aim to reveal the entire pictures and regulation mechanisms of the structure and functional networks that generate and maintain mitochondrial dynamic structures, by making a full use of structure biology.
Division of Engineering , Kyoto Sangyo University
Next-generation disease model mouse project
ES chimera mice for conditional gene targeting.
Genetically modified mice are valuable as models of human diseases, and they are currently indispensable analytical tools for the medical research and development of new drugs. It is vital that the gene-targeting mouse of the relevant gene is obtained as soon as possible since it influences the advance in medicine.
Various steps are needed when generating a gene-targeting mouse. It usually takes a long time. Therefore, producing gene-targeting mice in a short period of time using a reliable method is desirable.
We have been developing a method for establishing a conditional gene-targeting mouse rapidly and accurately. We named this system Speed Conditional Gene Targeting (abbreviation: SCOT).
Department of Cardiovascular Research, Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine
Immature Brain Project
To date, we have succeeded in identifying mutant mouse lines that exhibit severe behavioral abnormalities related to psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In some of these mutant mice, almost all neurons are arrested at a pseudo-immature state, even at adulthood, in a small region of the brain called the dentate gyrus, which plays an important role in cognitive functions and mood regulation. We named this phenomenon "immature dentate gyrus (iDG)." On the basis of these findings in mice, we confirmed that an iDG-like phenomenon also occurs in the brains of patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The iDG phenotype may underlie some of the symptoms of psychiatric disorders, such as cognitive deficits and hallucination or psychosis. Methods that can induce the maturation of neurons in the iDG might help cure such disorders. In this project, by using those mice, we are trying to elucidate the molecular or neuronal mechanisms underlying the iDG phenotype and to develop new methods for the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Division of Systems Medical Science, Institute for Comprehensive Medical Science, Fujita Health University
"SFC Lab｜Science Communicator" Project
The objective of this project is to fundamentally reconsider the state of science communication and the role of science communicators who are at its core, and redesign science communication for the future.
This project makes use of the museum's Opinion Bank to establish an effective science communication method that reflects the understanding of various stakeholders, develop a consensus-building mechanism, and, at the same time, define and nurture communicators who will act as a bridge between science and society in the future.
By building up a store of present science and technology related issues, such as what kind of regulations should be adopted in connection with the use of drones and social robots, or whether to allow monitoring people for the sake of traffic improvement and better functioning of the society, for example, we will be able to analyze the factors that contribute to formation of people's attitudes, and understand the limits of how much people are willing to compromise in regard to the given issues.
Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University