Details of the Initiative

The universe we are living in at present is thought to have started from a state with high symmetry, where all particles cannot be distinguished, and to have acquired the current diversity by breaking the symmetry a little. This slightly imperfect but not chaotic environment is a key to generate a fascinating world, in which various phenomena occur.

In our laboratory, we replace the universe with a material and humans with electrons to explore strange phenomena that occur in a non-chaotic environment. A material as a universe for electrons is not unique, and by finding a hidden order that brings about incomplete but not completely disordered environment in various materials, we can enjoy the behavior of electrons, that is, the properties of a material in such environment. In other words, the search for hidden order leads to the discovery of unknown properties hidden in various materials, and the fruits of which are returned to society as functional materials. With use of a hidden order, we are promoting theoretical research on various functional materials, including the transfer of information and energy through the flow of magnets without using electric currents, the conversion of thermal vibrations into electricity, and the conversion of sound into magnets. The properties of these materials not only stimulate our intellectual curiosity, but also provide the basis for energy harvesting and contribute to the realization of a sustainable society.

The early universe began in a “normal state” (a highly symmetric state indicated by an orange dot in the left panel), and the present universe is in a “superconducting state” (a less symmetric state in the right panel). A similar correspondence exists between the normal and superconducting states of ordinary metals.
Superconducting levitation experiment. A superconductor cooled below the temperature of liquid nitrogen moves along the rails of the magnets. It floats below as well as above the rails.