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New Research Results

Heavy metal treatment 07/20/2022

Treatment of Heavy Metal Containing Wastewater Using Microbes, Rice Husk, and Rice Bran
– Optimization of wastewater treatment conditions by identifying key microbes –

AIST and JOGMEC worked to identify microbes that are critical for the stable bioreactor performance and optimize the operating conditions. The results indicated that only one sulfate-reducing bacteria was exceptionally tolerant of relatively aerobic environments, and that maintaining the activity of this bacterium could be important for stable wastewater treatment. Since this system can remove heavy metals from the wastewater with low cost and low environmental impact, it will be also applied to industrial wastewater.

Figure of new research results Energy and Environment

Symbiont 04/25/2022

Discovery of Host Protein Essential for Maternal Transmission of Symbiotic Bacteria from Mother to Her Nymphs
– Mother stinkbugs produce symbiont capsules to their offspring at the expense of their own survival –

Researchers in AIST analyzed the contents of the symbiont capsules produced by adult females of the plataspid stinkbug Megacopta punctatissima and identified a novel secretion protein as the major protein component of the capsules. This protein was shown to protect fragile essential symbiotic bacteria from the harsh condition outside the host and ensure the maternal transmission of the bacteria to the next generation. It was also found that capsule production shortened the female’s lifespan. This indicates mother stinkbugs produce the symbiont capsules to their offspring “at the expense of their own survival.”
This is a new discovery identifying the host factor essential for symbiosis with microorganisms and leading to the elucidation of the molecular mechanism underling the maintenance of symbiosis. This discovery will give a great insight how symbioses with microorganisms shape the evolution of dependencies between generations of hosts.

Figure of new research results Life Science and Biotechnology

Enzyme reaction 08/03/2022

Effective Modification of Enzyme Function by Computational Science
– Identification of enzyme modification sites to improve production rates of target compounds –

Researchers in AIST has developed a computational method for predicting the amino acid sites that control enzyme reactions (Mutation Site Prediction method for Enhancing the Regioselectivity of substrate reaction sites, MSPER) in collaboration with KNC Laboratories Co., Ltd. This method was applied to modify the enzyme cytochrome P450 (P450) used in the production of perfume raw materials. The production rate of the target compound was increased by up to 6.4 times compared to the unmodified enzyme.
MSPER was developed that suppresses the production of by-products by predicting and modifying amino acid sites involved in by-product production from the structural information obtained from simulation analysis to reproduce multiple enzyme-substrate complexes generated in enzyme reactions. This method enables to narrow down the enzyme areas to be modified, which achieves labor savings by reducing the number of evaluation tests for functional verification to 1/170 to 1/1000 that of conventional random mutation methods.

Figure of new research results Information Technology and Human Factors

Ethylene sensor 05/31/2022

A Prototype of Portable Ethylene Sensor
– Monitoring and controlling of fruit freshness by the prototype with easy handling –

AIST developed a prototype sensor that selectively detected the plant hormone ethylene in collaboration with the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS). Ethylene gas concentration is a key parameter to quality control of fresh produce during storage and logistics. This portable prototype provides simple operation for measuring ethylene based on a novel detection method.

Figure of new research results

Osmotic power generation 03/31/2022

Development of a "Hygroelectric Cell" that Generates Electricity Using Changes in the Moisture in the Air
– Fusion of deliquescent material and osmotic (salt concentration differential) power generation –

A "hygroelectric cell" was developed by an AIST researcher. It can generate electricity using changes in the moisture in the air.
Development has been ongoing for many years for energy harvesting technology that uses minute energy present in the environment, such asthermoelectric conversion, photovoltaics, and vibration-based power generation, as stand-alone power supply for small electronic devices. However, locations with conventional energy sources such as heat, light, and vibration are limited, which made it difficult to say that this was technology that "can generate electricity anywhere." Therefore, energy harvesting technology is being developed that uses moisture (water vapor in the air) that exists nearly everywhere on the earth as an energy source. Conventional power generators that use moisture provide current on the nanoampere to microampere level, which cannot be a practical power supply. The newly developed hygroelectric cell operates on a new principle that combines deliquescent material and osmotic (salt concentration differential) power generation, and it has low internal resistance which enables continuous output of milliampere-level current. This cell can generate electricity using the difference in daytime and nighttime moisture simply by exposure to air. This technology is expected to apply an ultra-low power supply for IoT devices.

Figure of new research results Electronics and Manufacturing

Urban Geological Map 03/03/2022

Completed at Last! 3D Geological Map of Central Tokyo
– A next-generation geological map that can express the subsurface geological structure of central Tokyo (special wards area) in three dimensions –

AIST has published a next-generation geological map “Urban Geological Map of Central Tokyo (Special Wards Area)”. It visualizes the subsurface geological structures beneath central Tokyo to a depth of tens of meters in three dimensions.
It was difficult to accurately express subsurface geological structures beneath urban areas with conventional planar geological maps. Analysis of large amounts of survey data from as many as 50,000 sites with originally developed 3D modeling technology enabled to visualize the detailed subsurface geological structure of central Tokyo in three dimensions. As a result, the distribution of a valley-filling soft stratum called the post-Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) deposits in the lowlands of downtown Tokyo was depicted in great detail. Furthermore, it was clarified that a weak stratum similar to the post-LGM deposits is also distributed in a part of the Musashino Upland in the Yamanote area, which had generally been considered hard ground. This 3D geological map can be easily viewed by anyone free of charge, so widespread use is expected such as for earthquake hazard maps and urban infrastructure development in central Tokyo (special wards area). The map was released on the “Urban Geological Map of Central Tokyo” page of the AIST website on May 21, 2021.

Figure of new research results Geological Survey of Japan

LED standard source 4/27/2022

Development of LED-Based Standard Light Source that Emits Light in All Directions
– Challenging the standard lamps having a 100-year history –

Researchers in AIST developed a prototype of a new omnidirectional standard LED in collaboration with Nichia Corporation. This is a new standard light source using LEDs that emits light covering the full visible wavelength range over all directions.
The developed omnidirectional standard LED achieves stability and reproducibility of optical power comparable to the conventional standard lamp and has a spectrum covering the full visible wavelength range. Furthermore, combination with a special optical material that diffuses light uniformly in all directions successfully realized spatial light distribution that is ideal as a standard light source for total luminous flux measurement. The commercialization of the standard LED is expected to contribute to the sustainable development of lighting industry and to improve the accuracy of light source evaluation in manufacturers, etc.

Newly developed radiation dosimeter

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