Kamono-Chomei, who experienced a great earthquake in Genryaku era in Kyoto and other serious natural disasters, noted about mutability and vanity of the world in Hojo-ki in 1212 just 800 years ago. Even in the modern era of science and technology, it has been shown through natural disaster and nuclear meltdown that Japan's social systems are, as ever, exceedingly frail. Indeed, some have even lost trust in science and technology themselves. To win back public trust and develop a new strategy for the growth of Japan, it is essential to employ the power of science and technology to reinforce social infrastructure and secure a high degree of reliability. For this purpose, not only in massive structures and transportation systems, but also in medicine, communications, energy conversion, energy storage and the environment, it is necessary to study the performance of structural materials under normal steady-state conditions, and also their dynamic characteristics: responses to sporadic changes in stress patterns, electrical and magnetic fields, or chemical environments. In short, it is required to have a correct understanding of all manners of "deformation and fracture" phenomena, and information that can be used to ensure dependable service over the entire design lifespan. It is this notion-structural materials, in the broad sense-that has such a strong bearing on the safety and robustness of social infrastructure in every way.
In structural materials, both of strength and toughness are required. This is fundamental. Strength, or resistance to deformation, allows producing materials that are light and compact. Toughness, or resistance to fracture, allows producing materials that are dependable. Generally, however, there is a tradeoff between the two－what is strong is brittle, what is tough is weak. But does it have to be this way? Is there any way that can produce the ultimate frontier material, not through the addition of rare alloying elements, but rather through structural control, from electrons and atoms at one extreme to macrostructures at the other, with new tools ranging from electron theory to state-of-the-art metrology? To address these issues in earnest, the Elements Strategy Initiative for Structural Materials was established and started operation in June 2012.
The mission of Elements Strategy Initiative for Structure Materials (ESISM) at Kyoto University is expressed as three points: 1) Through fundamental research, to deepen our understanding of structural materials and develop new conceptualizations; 2) To support efforts toward the industrial application of our findings; 3) To nurture talented researchers and other personnel capable of sustaining the development of Japan into the future. Necessary for this mission are not only the untiring efforts of our members, but also an unfettered exchange of views and opinions, including a broad dialogue with society at large and a free association with professional colleagues at home and abroad. Your understanding and support would be greatly appreciated, and we look forward to hearing your frank opinions.
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