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Molecular Technology

Synthesis Innovation

Edited by Hisashi Yamamoto and Takashi Kato

Volume 4

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Foreword by Dr. Hamaguchi

The President of Japan Science and Technology Agency

Molecular Technology is a newly developed research field supported through Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) research funding programs. These programs aim to establish an innovative research field that harnesses the characteristics of molecules to enable new scientific and commercial applications. It is our great pleasure to publish this book, with the ambition that it will develop both an understanding of and further support for this new research field within the research and student community.

Molecular Technology as introduced in this book began in 2012 as a research area within JST's Strategic Basic Research Programs. JST is an advanced network‐based research institution that promotes state‐of‐the‐art R&D projects and leads the way in the co‐creation of future innovation in tandem with wider society. JST develops a wide range of funding programs related to the promotion of scientific and technological innovation, which include strategy planning, target‐driven basic research, and promotion of research and development.

Various research projects focused on Molecular Technology are currently underway within JST's Strategic Basic Research Programs, including

  • the team‐based research program “CREST (Core Research for Evolutionary Science and Technology)” and
  • the individual research program “PRESTO (Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology).”

Dr. Yamamoto (CREST) and Dr. Kato (PREST) manage the Molecular Technology research area as research supervisors.

In addition, JST's Strategic International Collaborative Research Program promotes research projects in the area of Molecular Technology, including ongoing cooperation with L'Agence nationale de la recherche (The French National Research Agency, ANR).

A wide range of researchers from the young to seniors across fields from green science, life science, and energy are participating in successful research aimed at establishing the new field of Molecular Technology. They are already producing excellent research results and it is our hope that these will develop into technologies capable of initiating a new era in energy and green and life sciences.

I encourage you to read not only researchers in related fields but also look more broadly to researchers working in other fields. Inspired by this book, I look forward to emerging new research fields and seeds toward future innovation.

Michinari Hamaguchi

Japan Science and Technology Agency


Foreword by Dr. Noyori

As an affiliated institution of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the Center for Research and Development Strategy (CRDS) navigates the latest global trends in science, technology, and innovation to aid the Japanese government in formulating its national strategies. Molecular Technology is the outcome of a research project born of a CRDS strategic proposal realized under the excellent editorial supervision of Hisashi Yamamoto and Takashi Kato. To them and to the scientists who have made major advances in molecular technology through their uninhibited research I extend my heartfelt congratulations and respect.

The significance of molecular science in all areas of scientific endeavor is certain to increase. Accurate understanding of molecular assemblies and molecular complexes is essential for comprehending the elaborate workings of natural phenomena and of the genesis and mechanisms of materials and life functions. Now, more than ever, science must be seen as a single entity, a comprehensive whole. Mathematical science and the most advanced technologies of observation and information help us explore the essence of materials and substances in a way that brings together all fields of science. It is the nature of molecular science to continually advance and expand. Using the metaphor of light, we can say that molecules behave in the manner of both “waves and particles.”

The traditional separation of science into physics, chemistry, and biology no longer applies. Neither does it make any sense to maintain those seemingly self‐contained subdivisions of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, or polymer chemistry. So long as specialized groups and rigid educational systems cling to outdated perceptions, it is more important to encourage an “anti‐disciplinary” type of science in which diverse fields converge rather than conventional interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary attempts to link diverse fields.

Molecular technology, while firmly grounded in fundamental scientific knowledge, aims for practical applications within contemporary society. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” Technology with no practical application is meaningless to society. Researchers should not hesitate to set their own themes and topics of exploration in academia where self‐determination holds strong and creativity wins the highest respect. Researchers must show ingenuity in the pursuit of their chosen mission even as they fulfill their duty to pursue science‐based technology for society. Never forget that it is by no means advisable to function purely as a support for activities that industry should actually undertake on its own.

The creative outcomes of the Molecular Technology Project launched in 2013 in conjunction with new collaborations are certain to lead to a wide range of innovations and to make significant contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda.

Science is one; and the world is one. Those who will follow us have a responsibility to the world after 2030 and it is my hope that new generations will pioneer revolutionary molecular technology that will bring science and humanity ever closer together. Brain circulation and international collaboration are essential to achieve these goals. V.S. Naipaul, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature, once noted that knowing what you wanted to write was three‐quarters of the task of writing. Humanity's future is to be found in the unbounded imagination of the young and in its ability to support the challenges they undertake.

December 2017

Ryoji Noyori

Tokyo, Japan


Chemical science enables us to qualitatively change existing science and technology by purposefully designing and synthesizing molecules and creating the desired physical, chemical, and biological functions of materials and drugs at molecular level. In 2012, we have started a big funding project in Japan, “Molecular Technology” (Establishment of Molecular Technology toward the Creation of New Functions (CREST), and Molecular technology and new functions (PRESTO)), and numerous research groups in Japan have joined the project in diverse research areas. All of these are typical transdisciplinary research projects between chemistry and various research areas of science and technology. In other words, Molecular Technology is a brand‐new scientific discipline. In principle, most of the proposed projects try to bridge the big gap between chemistry and other basic science and technology. We thus propose a good model for this bridge, which can make valuable contribution to human welfare.

Between JST and ANR, we initiated a number of international collaboration projects in molecular technology in 2014. Since then, 12 new collaboration projects have been started. The projects provide quite unique opportunity for collaboration between Japan and France and active research groups have participated with very close discussions on molecular technology between the two countries. We are sure this project will provide close contacts between the research groups of Japan and France for otherwise impossible discoveries. Overall, this international collaboration will be a new entry for even more important discoveries in future.

In 2016, we started the discussion to bring out a new and comprehensive book on molecular technology for the benefit of all the researchers in the world to provide typical and leading examples in molecular technology. Overall, researchers of 15 CREST, 50 PRESTO, and 12 INTERNATIONAL groups have contributed to this book. This book covers extremely diverse areas of molecular technology, from materials to pharmaceuticals.

Hisashi Yamamoto

Chubu University,

Supervisor of CREST

Takashi Kato

The University of Tokyo,

Supervisor of PRESTO