Autophagy is the process by which cells break down their own proteins and other substances. The mechanism helps maintain healthy cells, providing nourishment to stave off starvation and eliminating unnecessary proteins and organelles, which are large structures within cells. Autophagy is involved in various physiological functions such as inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and slowing down the aging process. Honorary Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi of the Institute of Innovative Research was the first person in the world to confirm autophagy with the naked eye. He has elucidated the mechanism of autophagy and the responsible genes. Professor Ohsumi's contributions to the field of bioscience have received wide acclaim. He was selected as a Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate in 2013, and he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2016.
Professor Hideo Hosono, Director of the Materials Research Center for Element Strategy, defied conventional wisdom when he discovered an iron-based high-temperature superconductor in 2008. This discovery helped accelerate research into new superconductive materials worldwide, and more than 70 new superconductors have been discovered since. Hosono's paper has been cited more than 5,000 times by scientists around the world, and in 2013 he was selected as a Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate. Tokyo Tech's Materials Research Center for Element Strategy leads the world in materials science research.
In conventional lithium batteries, a liquid is used as the electrolyte for flowing ionic current. However, Professor Ryoji Kanno, School of Materials and Chemical Technology, demonstrated the possibility of using a solid electrolyte in defiance of conventional wisdom. Solidification reduces flammability and also improves stability. It can operate in a wide temperature range, and it is easy for the current to flow and become powerful. It also enables rapid charging and discharging, providing many advantages as a battery. In the future, Kanno and colleagues plan to tackle issues such as cost reduction for further practical application.
TSUBAME is the designation for a series of high-performance supercomputers developed by Professor Satoshi Matsuoka and the Global Scientific Information and Computing Center to support advanced research and education at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech). TSUBAME 2.0, which began operating in 2010, was ranked fourth in the world for supercomputer performance in November 2010. TSUBAME 2.5, upgraded from TSUBAME 2.0 in 2013, has a theoretical operating performance of 17.1 petaflops* at single-precision floating point, overtaking the K Computer which was the fastest supercomputer (11.4 petaflops) in Japan at the time. TSUBAME-KFC, the prototype for TSUBAME 3.0 featuring an oil cooling system and dramatically reduced energy consumption, was ranked the world's most energy-efficient supercomputer by Green500 two times in a row both in November 2013 and June 2014. TSUBAME 3.0, which offers even greater performance enhancements, began operating in 2017. It also ranked 1st on the Green500 List in June 2017. TSUBAME continues evolving.
* Petaflops: A petaflop equals one quadrillion floating point (real number) operations per second.
The Environmental Energy Innovation (EEI) Building at Tokyo Tech's Ookayama Campus was completed in 2012. The roof and the south and west faces are covered with a total of 4,570 solar panels. With the green power provided by the solar panels and a fuel cell system that makes up for any energy production shortfalls, the building is nearly energy self-sufficient, a globally unprecedented feat for a research center. The smart grid management system "Ene-Swallow" allows for collection and visualization of energy information on the building while maintaining a balance between the supply and demand for energy. CO2 emissions have been cut by approximately 60 percent, and its center is a leader in environmental energy technologies research. The EEI Building also plays a role in local disaster preparedness in the community against earthquakes and other emergencies.