The International Research Center for Nuclear Materials Science (hereinafter the “Center”) of the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University (hereinafter the “IMR”), was inaugurated on April 1, 2004, renamed from the former Irradiation Experimental Facilities (established in 1969). Having taken over the major functions of its predecessor including nationwide joint research as described below, the Center lays great emphasis on the cultivation of talent and the promotion of academic research. It is thus going to expand its activities into new fields globally.
Nuclear power is a principle energy source that generates over 30% of the total electricity of Japan and more than 50 nuclear reactors are in service within the country. For the safe operation of those nuclear reactors and their secure coexistence with people, it is essential to conduct research into the nuclear materials that they use including the evaluation of their service life. At this Center, we make full use of the state of the art technologies in materials science that the IMR possesses and do research on such materials.
Materials used as energy sources including future-generation nuclear fusion reactors are also one of the most significant subjects of our research.
In addition, as our other research pillars, we have studied the following subjects: the safe treatment and disposal of the spent fuel of nuclear reactors; the creation of new substances by positively utilizing actinides and depleted uranium; and physical properties that are the fundamentals of all those studies.
At this Center, while conducting our own research, we, as a nationwide joint research institute, support the researchers of universities and other research institutes all over Japan and promote intensive cooperation between them.
The cultivation of new talent is the most important issue to ensure a successful future for nuclear power. The Center has played a significant role in the development of researchers by encouraging graduate students to obtain degrees and providing students with intensified training during summer. We will continue to promote education and training by developing the guest teacher system, etc.
The globalization of research is also essential to improve its efficiency and to maintain high standards by sharing information and technologies. To this end, by entering into research agreements, the Center is exchanging human resources, samples and information with world-class institutes. In the research of nuclear power, irradiation facilities are especially important. Therefore, we are aiming to further promote irradiation tests by utilizing nuclear reactors overseas in addition to the Japan Materials Testing Reactor (JMTR) and the fast test reactor Joyo of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) that we use currently.
Among the major functions of the Center is that of serving as a domestic base for international cooperation regarding materials irradiation research that Japanese universities and institutes have been involved in. In the Japan-USA Program for Irradiation/Integration Test for Fusion Research-II (JUPITER-II), the Center has played an important role. We are going to keep increasing our involvement in international cooperation proactively in the future.
To do so, it is indispensable for the Center to maintain a close cooperative link with the JAEA. We are going to intensify the relationship, taking proper steps to meet the situation via efforts such as developing the guest researcher system.
We promote collaborative business between industry, government and academia while requesting the cooperation of local society and thus intend to return the benefits of our research.