#6 Prof. Jun Terao: Synthesizing electronic circuits

#6 Prof. Jun Terao: Synthesizing electronic circuits

The sixth interview of this series is with Professor Jun Terao from the Graduate School of Engineering at Kyoto University, as suggested by Professor Kenichiro Itami at our second Chem-Station interview and Professor Tetsuro Murahashi at our fourth Chem-Station interview. Professor Terao is involved in a very interesting but challenging project: the chemical synthesis of electronic circuits.

He is very enthusiastic about chemistry and has a sharp sense about practically everything. Please read on to find out more about him.

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]Q[/su_dropcap] What made you choose chemistry as a career?

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]

I always had a sense of curiosity and I liked to create new games for myself in the wilderness when I was a child. If a friend enjoyed the game that I created, I remember being ecstatic about it. This feeling comes back to life whenever other people find my research interesting. I wanted to become a chemist from the moment I was assigned to a lab and started to run experiments that I designed myself. Chemistry can be enjoyed without boundaries, as far as the imagination allows for it—this sometimes overlaps with my childhood experiences and this continuously stimulates my curiosity. I then proceeded onward to obtain my Ph.D. to evaluate my talent as a chemist. I was able to start up a new research project and the praises I received for my research proposals gave me a big confidence boost, enough to choose a life in chemistry. Even now, I have painted for myself an image of an ideal chemist, toward which I try to sharpen my chemical senses every day.

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]Q[/su_dropcap]

 If you were not a chemist, what would you like to be, and why?

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]

Chemistry is becoming more and more interesting as the days go by, so it is hard to imagine something I could be more devoted to. I was committed to my soccer and music band during my adolescence but I painfully recognized my lack of talent in these activities so I have no regrets in abandoning my dreams of joining the Japanese national soccer team and being a vocalist. These days, I really think that being a chemist is the right match for me.

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]Q[/su_dropcap]

 Currently, what kind of research are you conducting? Moreover, how do you foresee its future development?

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]

Integrated circuits for computing devices are currently designed using a top-down approach. Moore’s law predicts that, in 2020, the exponential increase in the number of transistors per integrated circuit will reach its physical and economical limits. With this in mind, the chemical synthesis of molecular devices has become our challenge. If this can be realized, society would no longer need to rely on expensive nano-scale processing equipment or rare metals; we would instead be able to make inexpensive reactors and electronic circuits using organic compounds. Recent progress involves the synthesis of insulated molecular wires, the wiring of π-conjugated molecules between nanogap electrodes using cross-coupling reactions, and the synthesis of photo-switching devices. We hope to overcome Moore’s law and to develop a technology for the construction of molecular devices that will have a large impact on society and industry.

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]Q[/su_dropcap]

 If you could have dinner with any famous person from the past, who would it be, and why?

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]

Seeing this question reminded me of a dinner I had with a group of American “chemistry superstars” a few years ago in my MBLA lecture series. What got me most excited was not the discovery of each other’s research upbringing or academic pedigree but rather the discussions about how we perceive science to evolve in the future. If I am able to meet people from the past, that means a time machine has been completed, right? In that case, I would rather take the opportunity to talk to a scientist from the future.

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]Q[/su_dropcap]

 When was the last time you performed an experiment in the laboratory, and what was it about?

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]

Quite recently, I conducted additional experiments that were requested by a referee for an article involving the work of a student that had already graduated. This is typical, but I told myself that I should have published this paper before the student’s graduation…

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]Q[/su_dropcap]

  If you were stranded on a desert island, which book or song/piece of music would you like to have with you? Please single out your favorite example.

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]

For music, there are a lot of answers so it is difficult for me to choose. If I could only choose one song, I would choose Van Halen’s “Dreams” because it always raises my motivation; if I could choose an entire CD, I would choose what I always enjoyed ever since elementary school, which is Queen’s “Greatest Hits”.

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]Q[/su_dropcap] 

Do you have any suggestions as to whom we should interview next?

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]

I would like to nominate a few people who are of a slightly older generation: Professors Hajime Ito (Hokkaido University), Masahiro Terada (Tohoku University) and Kyoko Nozaki (The University of Tokyo). These professors are always conducting fascinating research.

 

[su_box title=”Biographical sketch of Jun Terao” style=”bubbles”]Associate professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1999 from the Department of Applied Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University. Thereafter, he became an Assistant Professor and a Lecturer in the same department where he did his Ph.D. work. Since 2008, he is at his current position. His research expertise includes synthetic organic chemistry, supramolecular chemistry and molecular electronics.[/su_box]

 

 Related Links

Dr. Jun Terao HP

Japanese version written here (place URL?) on Oct 22, 2010; English translation written on Feb 20, 2014.

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