The Institute for Materials Research (IMR or “KINKEN”) was established in 1916 as the 2nd Division of the Provisional Institute of Physical and Chemical Research. It was Tohoku University’s first research institute and is one of the oldest national university research institutes in Japan. The institute’s founding philosophy is “to contribute to the development of civilization and the well-being of mankind through creating new materials that are truly useful to society by conducting both fundamental and applied research on various materials such as metals, semiconductors, ceramics, compounds, organic materials, and composite materials.” In accordance with this, we aim to “search for scientific principles related to material-based sciences and their applications.”
After its founding, IMR first focused on steel but quickly broadened its research field to a variety of metals and alloys. Then, in response to changing times and economic growth in Japan, it came to cover semiconductors, ceramics, and various other materials. Ever since our first director, Professor Kotaro Honda, invented the first artificial permanent magnet called “KS steel,” we have developed many new materials for practical use, including Sendust alloy, SiC fibers, and soft magnetic amorphous alloys. We have also focused on fundamental research, which is important for the development of new materials, and carried out cutting-edge research on magnetism, optical properties, superconductivity, microstructure characterization, and so on. In 1987, the institute became a Tohoku University-affiliated national collaborative research institute and changed its name from the Research Institute for Iron, Steel and Other Metals to its present one. IMR, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2016, has developed into a world-leading research institute in the field of materials science.
IMR is notable for its fusion of fundamental and applied research, as well as of science and engineering. For many years, we have been contributing to the materials research community via our joint usage/research programs. We can offer some of the best large research facilities in the world (covering high-energy irradiation, strong magnetic fields, and supercomputing) and a wide variety of equipment for materials synthesis, evaluation, and analysis, thereby enabling researchers from Japan and abroad to engage in a variety of collaborative projects. IMR was designated as a Joint Usage/Research Center in Materials Science in 2009 and, subsequently, an International Joint Usage/Research Center in Materials Science in 2018, known as Global Institute for Materials Research Tohoku (GIMRT). We have now further heightened our efforts to enhance such collaborations and cultivate new talent in materials research. Professor Honda once said, “Industry is the training ground of academics.” Carrying on this KINKEN spirit, we actively work to collaborate with industry and educate engineers.
In the 21st century, our society faces global-scale environmental issues, such as global warming, resource depletion, acquiring a stable energy supply, and new kinds of environmental pollution. Materials research undoubtedly has an important role to play in the creation of a sustainable society through the construction of social infrastructure, the creation of safe and highly-efficient energy, and the resource strategy-based materials development. It is also important that the field collaborates internationally to solve difficult global challenges as well as supports the global competitiveness of key industries in Japan. IMR will continue to work towards a sustainable society both by engaging in important research to solve various problems in the near future, as well as creating new areas of research that can bring about paradigm shifts for future generations.
We ask for your support and encouragement in the years to come.