Interview with Hiroshi Yamamoto

Hiroshi Yamamoto talks to CrystEngCommunity

19 July 2009

Hiroshi Yamamoto is based at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Discovery Research Institute, Condensed Molecular Materials Laboratory in Saitama, Japan. His research focuses on molecular arrangements of crystalline materials for use as electric conductors and superconductors.

1) Why did you to become a scientist?
My father was also a scientist and it was quite natural for me to become a scientist. I also found a joy of science as I learned more about it.

2) What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have two projects now.
The first project is a chemical one where I study conduction properties of organic crystals with supramolecular assemblies. I’m especially interested in constructing a supramolecular insulating sheath to separate conducting organic nanowires from each other in the crystal.
The second project is a physical one. I’m making FET (field effect transistor) devices with organic charge transfer salts. My final aim for this project is to realize a phase transition transistor with high switching ability and a superconducting FET.

3) What do you think will be the next big breakthrough in your field?
Here I restrict my fields to those related to the crystal engineering.
The first one that comes to my mind is a prediction of crystal structures by computation. I have discussed this possibility with my colleague and understood it is really a big challenge. But I think the impact of succeeding in a structure prediction is very high.
The second one is epitaxial growth of organic crystals. The importance of an interface between two crystals is now increasing quite rapidly in inorganic materials science. I’m quite sure that it will be a big breakthrough if you succeed in making an atomically flat interface between organic crystals.

4) How do you think crystal engineering will develop in the next five years?
Firstly, I think it’s quite important for crystal engineering to expand its power in controlling chemical and/or physical properties of the crystals. This point of view makes the crystal engineering a real ‘engineering’.
As a ‘tool’ for control of properties, desired structures should be constructed in the crystal. In the next five years, I think the simultaneous use of several kinds of intermolecular interaction will be developed in this field. To this end, relatively minor interactions like halogen bonds will be more and more important, as they can be complementary interactions to the major ones such as hydrogen bond and metal coordination.
This August, there will be a special session for halogen bond in the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington D.C. This session will be a nice occasion to discuss how halogen bond can be an effective intermolecular interaction in crystal engineering, although it is less known for many chemists for the moment.

5) What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I’m always excited when I see a new crystal structure. Every time it is beautiful enough to compensate for a lot of efforts to make it. It is also a great joy that I can discuss and share these beautiful entities with my colleagues and academic friends.

6) What is the secret to a successful research group?
Sharing a professional mind is an important basis, and after that, it is the most important thing to enjoy science.

7) What achievement are you most proud of?
I’m proud of being able to control conduction properties by constructing an insulating network. People tend to pay the highest attention to the conducting molecules in their development of conducting materials, but I found that the insulating moiety can play a big role when you consider an application use.

8 ) What advice would you give to a young scientist?
The darkest hour is just before the dawn.

9) What would you do if you weren’t a scientist?
Probably a teacher, because I like teaching.

10) What is your favourite place to be?
I like sea side places. It would be quite nice if there are a hammock and a refreshing sea breeze.

Related Links

Hiroshi Yamamoto’s homepage Condensed Molecular Materials Lab. RIKEN, Japan

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