As clearly demonstrated by the global warming brought about by the increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions since the Industrial Revolution, the technological systems that we humans have built on the back of fossil fuels, rare metals, and other resources are gradually reaching their limits. To achieve sustainable growth, our society needs technological systems based on paradigms that are fundamentally different from those that have served it up to now.
Organisms, on the other hand, have made use of ubiquitous elements such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen to sustain a rich diversity over millions of years. Biodiversity is the fruit of evolution and adaptation. Behind the strategies that organisms have used to survive in deep seas, deserts, cold regions, and many other kinds of environment are mechanisms that differ from the technologies of human society and which are likely to contain a great many hints for the development of technologies needed to achieve sustainability.
At the Research Center for Bioscience and Nanoscience, we seek to develop new knowledge through elucidating the unique survival strategies and mechanisms acquired by deep-sea and other marine organisms in the process of adapting to environments that differ greatly from terrestrial environments. We also work closely with industries, universities, and other research institutes to promote innovation based on research outcomes that will help to resolve global warming, resource depletion, energy, and other pressing sustainability issues.
The Deep-Sea Nanoscience Research Group actively works with other researchers both within JAMSTEC and elsewhere, incorporating physics and chemistry perspectives to apply an interdisciplinary approach to elucidating the structure and function of deep-sea and marine organisms as well as the physico-chemical processes in extreme deep-sea conditions. It also conducts R&D on engineering application of such processes.
Biomimetics, the development of technology that mimics nature, is said to hold promise of innovation on the same scale as the Industrial Revolution, and is expected to become a huge market worth 30 trilion yen by 2025. We conduct research on applying the unique structures and functions of deep-sea and marine organisms to the development of functional materials, structural design, sensors, robotics, and other areas.
Extreme deep-sea environments, and particularly the high-temperature and high-pressure environments of hydrothermal vents, can give rise to phenomena such as the mixing of oil and water, which would be unimaginable in normal circumstances. We leverage the unique physico-chemical properties of these extreme environments to develop new processes for the creation soft materials including nanoemulsions and polymers.
Active research is now being conducted in the field of nanobiotechnology --the development of technologies that combine elements of biotechnology and nanotechnology-- but this R&D is limited largely to medical application such as drug delivery and regenerative medicine. We seek to discover new uses for deep-sea and marine bioresources by developing and applying ultra-sensitive sensing and other nanobiotechnologies to the research of those resoureces.