About Miyamoto Laboratory
Research topics in Miyamoto Laboratory are development of Computer Chemistry programs and their applications. Then, what is "computer chemistry"? Computer chemistry, or Computational Chemistry, is the chemistry that uses computers as its name represents. If I explain it more definitely, computer chemistry is the study that is based on theoretical principles and aims to solve various problems that are related to chemistry of molecules, their properties, and their synthesis processes with the aid of computers. Computer chemistry can be more broadly defined as the study that analyzes and predicts various physical properties of chemical substances and physical or chemical phenomena by modeling various substances on computer at the atomic and molecular level. I guess this is getting a little complicated for people who are not unfamiliar with this subject. Let's make this simpler by presenting an example, "Your Journey to the Best Recipe".
Imagine that you want to cook something totally new and original. You might hesitate to try your own recipe because you are afraid of wasting foods in case of failure. For example, let's assume you want to cook curry. Do you buy an instant curry roux from various commercial products, or do you try your original one by blending tens of spices? How about meat, or vegetables? Do you boil them or stir-fry them? Let's say you decided to stir-fry onion and carrot, and then you boil the chicken. You mix them all and taste it... not so good. It might have been better have the chicken stir-fried as well or just try a vegetable curry, but now it is too late... Each person has a different taste, so we need to customize a taste individually to satisfy each person. What if there is something like a simulator that can propose the best way to cook your ideal dishes without the risk of wasting food? Probably nobody is afraid of cooking anymore. Likewise in the above example of cooking, material design in various fields is based on trials-and-errors method, and the aim of Computer Chemistry is to design new material in the best way without carrying out expensive experiments.
Combinatorial Computational Chemistry is one of the main successful projects of Miyamoto Laboratory and used by more than 30 world-class business industrial companies. This project in Miyamoto Laboratory is considered to be the biggest scale in the world.
So how has this remarkable laboratory made its way to this level? The laboratory has begun when Prof. Miyamoto returned back to Tohoku University in 1992 after his career in Nagoya University and Kyoto University. Cherry blossoms and warm weather of April welcomed him together with warm assistances of staffs in the same department. First thing he did was to dispose all experimental stuffs that were left in the laboratory. From portions to apparatuses; everything was removed to start completely new study.
There were only one workstation and several personal computers in the laboratory, and only 9 members including professor himself were there to pioneer new field. Eventually they faced various difficulties, but Professor Miyamoto encouraged the lab members with the belief that pioneers should challenge the most difficult thing among the difficult things. As a result, they succeeded in developing numbers of computer chemistry programs and successfully applied them to the new material design in important fields of the industry, such as precious-metal catalyst, tribology, battery, semiconductor, optical material, hydrogen absorption material, and bio-molecular system. Their hard work had paid off when their research was evaluated to be practically important and profitable for many companies.
Of course the effort of Miyamoto laboratory is carried on. The ultimate goals of laboratory are to computerize all the information on materials design, human body and so on. We'll see in the near future how the research activities of our laboratory will change our lives and our world to be better and better.