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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

Resistance to insecticide 10/07/2022

A mutual cooperation mechanism whereby symbiotic bacteria make pest insects resistant to insecticides
– Host insects help symbiotic bacteria to detoxify insecticide –

AIST researchers elucidated the insecticide resistance mechanism through interaction between pest insects and gut symbiotic bacteria in collaboration with Hokkaido University and Akita Prefectural University, and with the cooperation of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO).
The mechanism of gut symbiotic bacteria involvement in the insecticide resistance of pest insects is not known. AIST worked with other institutions to investigate how the gut symbiotic bacteria of the pest insect stinkbugs detoxify insecticides and identified a symbiont gene essential for the detoxification. Symbiotic bacteria use this gene to quickly degrade insecticides that have entered the pest insect's body. It was found that the insecticide degradation product is highly toxic to the symbiotic bacteria, but this substance is non-toxic to the host pest insect, and the pest insect quickly excretes it out of its body. As a result, the symbiotic bacteria can detoxify insecticides and continue to live in the body of the pest insect. This research discovered that pest insects and symbiotic bacteria intimately interact in the insecticide detoxification process.

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

PET bottle recycling 10/06/2022

Development of a Method for Conversion of PET Bottles into Raw Materials at Ambient Temperature
– Catalytic chemical recycling toward circular economy –

Researchers in AIST developed a catalytic process for converting PET resin in used PET bottles into dimethyl terephthalate at ambient temperature with high yield and high purity.
This technology utilizes an alkaline catalyst with dimethyl carbonate to efficiently depolymerize PET resin at ambient temperature in a short reaction time. It enables to recover the raw material, dimethyl terephthalate, in more than 90 % yield. The reaction temperature can be significantly lowered from that of the conventional method processing at about 200 °C. This technology potentially reduces the cost of bottle-to-bottle recycling.

Figure of new research results

Charge-to-Spin Conversion 09/01/2022

Clarifying the Mechanism of Charge-to-Spin Conversion in Ferromagnet
– Significant improvement of spin conversion efficiency paves the way for application to non-volatile magnetic memory –

Researchers in AIST were focusing on ferromagnetic materials as a new candidate spin source layer material to improve the performance of SOT-MRAM (left figure). They have significantly improved spin conversion efficiency by clarifying the origin of the conversion mechanism.
Researchers in AIST were focusing on charge-to-spin conversion phenomena in ferromagnetic materials which could potentially improve the performance of SOT-MRAM. However, the detailed mechanism of charge-to-spin conversion in ferromagnetic materials has not been clarified. Thus, there was no valid guidelines to realize the high efficiency of charge-to-spin conversion (spin conversion efficiency) essential for application. This work developed a magnetic multilayer structure enabling to accurately detect the charge-to-spin conversion in ferromagnetic material and succeed on systematical examination of its spin conversion efficiency. As a result, it was clarified that there were two different spin conversion mechanisms originating from the interface and interior (bulk) of the ferromagnetic material. They also improved the spin conversion efficiency by controlling the magnetic material at the interface (right figure). These achievements contribute to next-generation memory SOT-MRAM, which combines ultra-fast operation with power savings, and it will lead to energy saving and higher performance in mobile terminals and data centers in the future.

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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