The Institute for Molecular Science (IMS) has conducted numerous joint research projects in collaboration with regional and international universities and other research facilities since its establishment over 35 years ago, contributing to the continuous development of nanoscience. The collaborations have thus far been fruitful, with the conception and synthesis of a wide range of novel molecular materials including organic semiconductors and carbon materials. Not only have the structures and physical properties of these materials been thoroughly investigated but also their corresponding reactivities are capable of being controlled. The research strategy employed toward nanoscientific research is not limited to the field of material science; extensive research is conducted in the field of life science, where important biological phenomena are studied in detail at the molecular level.
On the foundation of the developed technologies and strategies of nanoscience, motivated researchers at the Research Center of Integrative Molecular Systems (CIMoS) have come together to tackle the theme posed here, as a question: "How do the characteristics of individual molecules lead to the expression of remarkable function and/or reactivity upon their assembly into molecular systems?" Research has thus far progressed with the intention of dividing a target comprised a complicated hierarchical structure into individual hierarchies, so that each may be investigated in detail. Further, each hierarchy follows its own theories and concepts for explaining the experimental results and observations.
One course of action is to learn about the molecular systems functioning over multiple layers of hierarchies. In addition to the detailed understanding of constituent molecules of the system, it is important to clarify the mechanism by which the sharing and control of information between the different spatiotemporal-hierarchies occurs, and to create novel molecular systems on the basis of the findings. The creation of such a flexible-but-robust molecular system with excellent functionality has the potential for improving efficiencies of material transformations and energy conversions to an ideal stage, thus, becoming a source of innovative technologies.
Our response to such a social and academic request has been the creation of three research divisions, accompanied by the recruitment of researchers who have contributed vast expertise to the study of individual molecular science hierarchies from the nanoscale to the macroscale, such as proteins and cells.
Division of Trans-hierarchical Molecular Systems
This division aims to elucidate the mechanism by which individual molecules function over multiple layers of hierarchies─through feedback controls and intermolecular reactions─in an attempt to provide an explanation for harmonious molecular system functions such as molecular clock, self-repair and environmental adaptability. The sharing and control of information between spatiotemporal hierarchies is an important factor deciding the behavior as a higher-order system. This division specializes in studying intramolecular and/or intermolecular feedback controls of sophisticated molecular systems and occasionally, in synthesizing and constructing novel molecular systems on the basis of the findings.
Division of Functional Molecular Systems
Construction of artificial molecular systems─based on lessons learned from the investigations of biomolecular systems─is likely to provide an ideal test ground both for application of the bioinspired principle and for development of new functional materials. The Division of Functional Molecular Systems commits itself to research on the novel physical properties that emerge from multiple molecular species functioning concertedly, through which the division contributes to one of the objectives of CIMoS by way of a constructive approach.
Division of Biomolecular Systems
The Division of Biomolecular Systems aims to elucidate a variety of biological phenomena exhibited by organisms at the molecular level. Particularly, the division specializes in studying energy conversion, molecular recognition, signal transduction, and functional regulation through the study of sugar-chain binding and metal complexation with protein molecules, as well as developing experimental and theoretical methods that can promote the above studies.