Nagoya, Japan — Prof. Ryotaro Matsuda, the Graduate School of Engineering at Nagoya University, and Prof. Susumu Kitagawa, the Department of Synthetic Chemistry & Biological Chemistry and the Director of the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University, won the contest “Air Liquide Essential Molecules Challenge.” For the first edition of the challenge, their research project was selected as one in three from a total of 130 scientific proposals submitted by academic teams, R&D departments, and start-ups from 25 countries.
Essential molecules, such as O2, N2, C2H2, CO, CO2, NO, NO2, and/or noble gases, are fundamental resources for our cultural lives. However, as a gas storage and carrier requires a huge energy which may cause even an unexpected risk, innovative new materials are in high demand to handle the gases under a lower pressure and a room temperature. In particular, if pocketable materials are invented to safely carry the gases, for instance in the situation of medical use, this will make our life at home more convenient.
Prof. Kitagawa of the research team was the first to discover and to demonstrate “porosity” for metal complexes with gas sorption experiments in 1997, whose materials are called porous coordination polymers (PCPs) or metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Since then working with Prof. Kitagawa, Prof. Matsuda has driven the expansion of the concept to “function integrated nanospace,” to develop further practical materials with the functions of molecular adsorption and separation. Their achievements have blazed a trail to a new era for porous materials, vital to addressing energy and environmental issues and contributing to human welfare.
In this starting new collaborative project, Nagoya University, Kyoto University, and Air Liquide will reinforce the innovative nanoporous materials, or “sponge materials,” to be identified for highly efficient abilities in separation, storage, and release of gas molecules. “Encouraged by this opportunity, we will open up a new research field in gas science and technology,” Prof. Matsuda expects.
For each subject, the winners will receive a scientific award of 50,000 euros in recognition of the originality of the projects, which offer innovative solutions promoting the energy and environmental transition. Air Liquide will also further fund up to 1.5 million euros in collaborations with the winners to mature their scientific proposals and transform them into innovative market technologies.