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Sumitomo Chemical and Tokyo Institute of Technology Create Next-Generation Environmental Technologies Using Strong Correlation Materials:
Two Innovative Results Published During the First Year of Their Industry-Academia Collaboration Project

May. 23, 2024

Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. and Tokyo Institute of Technology, a national university corporation in Japan, established the Sumitomo Chemical Next-Generation Eco-Friendly Devices Collaborative Research Cluster in April 2023. Since then, they have been advancing research aimed at promoting the practical implementation of strong correlation materials, which are expected to be one of the key materials for next-generation quantum devices.

Recently, Sumitomo Chemical and Tokyo Institute of Technology have successfully achieved two innovative results related to multiferroic materials*1, which are a type of strong correlation materials.

  1. Succeeded in the miniaturization of multiferroic materials, which has been technically challenging, marking a major step forward toward the implementation of next-generation memories that operate with ultra-low power consumption
  2. Discovered high-efficiency photocatalytic function in multiferroic materials, which could lead to achieving a water purification system using sunlight that contributes to reducing environmental impact

These results are expected to make a significant contribution to the development of next-generation environmental technologies. Going forward, as a leading company in this field of technology, Sumitomo Chemical will strive to achieve further results building on these achievements, and pursue their early implementation in society.

The group of materials that have a strong electron-electron interaction is called strong correlation materials. They are expected to be utilized in next-generation memory devices that can operate with ultra-low power consumption, energy harvesting devices that efficiently convert ambient energy, such as light and heat, into electric energy, and environmentally-friendly water purification systems. Sumitomo Chemical believes that strong correlation materials are a next-generation essential technology that can contribute to both energy saving and generation. For this reason, since April 2023, the Company has been working on collaborative research projects with the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and RIKEN, through cross appointment*2.

  • Figure: Schematic illustration of a strong correlation material

Sumitomo Chemical will further step up the industry-academia research and development efforts in the field of strong correlation materials. The Company will also strive to establish technology platforms and implement across society innovative new technologies that can provide solutions to achieve a sustainable society.

(Summaries of the research results)
Result 1:
Research teams:
Team of Professor Masaki Azuma and a joint team with the Kanagawa Institute of Industrial Science and Technology
In modern society, where information and communication technology is rapidly spreading, energy consumption by memory and computing elements is increasing, and low power consumption is a key requirement of memory devices. Multiferroic materials, which have both strong ferromagnetism and strong ferroelectricity, are expected to be applied to magnetic memories that can operate with ultra-low power consumption. However, it has been known that it is extremely difficult to miniaturize multiferroic materials that are composed of oxides. In this study, the teams succeeded in forming and integrating bismuth ferrite cobaltate, a multiferroic oxide, into nano-sized dots using the porous structure of alumina prepared by applying current in an acidic solution. Furthermore, it was confirmed that each nanodot had a single polarization information, marking a significant step toward the realization of next-generation high-density low-power magnetic memory.

  • Figure: Synthesis process of multiferroic oxides nanodots using the porous structure of anodized alumina

Result 2:
Research Team:
Team of Associate Professor Tso-Fu Mark Chang and Dr. Satoshi Okamoto, Chief Research Coordinator of Corporate Planning Office, Sumitomo Chemical (who is also a Specially Appointed Professor at the Sumitomo Chemical Next-Generation Eco-Friendly Devices Collaborative Research Cluster)
As interest in the Sustainable Development Goals has been growing in recent years, there is demand for clean and highly efficient technology to purify the large amounts of organic wastewater generated during the dyeing process of textiles, such as denim. Photocatalytic technology has been attracting attention as a solution for this issue, but there are some challenges for its practical use. With conventional photocatalysts using titanium dioxide, the decomposition reaction of organic substances by visible light (sunlight) does not progress sufficiently, and it is also difficult to recover catalysts efficiently. In this study, the team found that bismuth ferrite, a multiferroic material, supported with gold nanoparticles functions as a highly efficient visible-light photocatalyst, and succeeded in the high-efficiency decomposition of organic dyes by visible light and catalyst recovery using magnets. This technology is expected to achieve a recyclable water purification system that uses solar light as a green energy.

  • Figure: Photodecomposition behavior of indigo pigment using multiferroic photocatalyst (Au-BiFeO3) nanoparticles

*1 A substance that possesses multiple ferroic properties, such as strong ferroelectricity, strong ferromagnetism, and strong ferroelasticity. It shows novel responses different from conventional materials, such as magnetization induced by an electric field (magnetoelectric effect).

*2 An arrangement for industry-academia collaboration under which a researcher or expert is employed by two or more organizations or institutions, including universities, public research institutes, and companies, and engages in research and development and education activities according to his or her role in the organizations or institutions.


Tokyo Institute of Technology, a national university, news release dated May 23, 2024: "Revolutionizing Memory Technology: Multiferroic Nanodots for Low-Power Magnetic Storage"

Tokyo Institute of Technology, a national university, news release dated May 23, 2024: "Novel Au-BiFeO3 Nanostructures for Efficient and Sustainable Degradation of Pollutants"

Information about the papers:

Journal: ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Title: Single or vortex ferroelectric and ferromagnetic domain nanodot array of magnetoelectric BiFe0.9Co0.1O3
Authors: Keita Ozawa, Yasuhito Nagase, Marin Katsumata, Kei Shigematsu, and Masaki Azuma

Journal: ACS Applied Nano Materials
Title: Tunable Photocatalytic Properties of Au-Decorated BiFeO3 Nanostructures for Dye Photodegradation
Authors: Jhen-Yang Wu, Chun-Yi Chen, Junan Wang, Xinyu Jin, Wending Hou, Hsuan-Hung Kuo, Wan-Ting Chiu, Tomoyuki Kurioka, Masato Sone, Satoshi Okamoto, Yung-Jung Hsu Tso-Fu, and Mark Chang

Related Information:
Sumitomo Chemical to Start Industry-Academia Collaborative Research of Strong Correlation Materials for the Creation of Next-Generation Quantum Devices Aiming for Early Practical Implementation, Also Utilizing “Cross Appointment”, March 28, 2023


Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.
Corporate Communications Dept.