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Japan Network for Photo-Responsive Substances
(JANET-PRESS) and its Mission

  Research on materials which respond to light stimulus to change their properties as well as functions have been intensively carried out globally in recent years. In Japan, the field of “Organic Photochromic Materials and its Applications” has been assessed as a “rapidly growing area of research activity” by the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP). France has also been very active in its research of photochromism so that the first and fourth “International Symposium on Organic Photochromism (ISOP)” have been held there. In fact, there are now many researchers working actively in this area in both countries.

  The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France has been interested in research on photoresponsive materials so that it has organized a four-year International Research Group (IRG) project since 2008 to support international exchanges and collaborations between France, Japan, China, and Russia. This IRG organization, Photo-switchablE orgaNIC molecular systems and deviceS (PHENICS), consists of France (10 universities), Japan (Japan Scientific Consortium on “New Frontiers in Photochromism” with 12 universities), Russia (3 universities and 2 research institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences), and China (3 universities and 2 research institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences).

  Recently, some universities in Japan have decided to establish research associations within their universities to promote more active development in this area. At the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), the “NAIST Advanced Research Network”, was established in 2010 for the "Research Project for Advanced Photoresponsive Molecular Materials" under the direction of Professor Tsuyoshi Kawai. At Aoyama Gakuin University, the “Aoyama Gakuin Photochromism Research Consortium” has also been organized in 2010 for newly developed high-performance photochromic compounds by its Research Director, Professor Jiro Abe. At Yokohama National University, the “Research Association in Yokohama for Light Triggered Events (Ray-Lite)” was also started in 2010 with Professor Yasushi Yokoyama as its Director.

  These three projects were all independently established within each university in 2010, however, on the occasion of 6th ISOP (ISOP2010) held in Yokohama and chaired by Professor Yokoyama, the representatives of these organizations discussed the possibility of forming a network in Japan for research cooperation in photoresponsive materials. The network would be aimed at advancing research in this field as well as the cooperative education and training of the students of these universities. This idea was accepted by the presidents of all three universities and a formal Agreement for a research consortium was approved and signed on March 1st, 2011. The consortium is named the “Japan Network for Photo-responsive Substances (JANET-PRESS)” with Professor Yokoyama as its Representative Director.

  This Agreement will be automatically renewed every year so that JANET-PRESS will endure as a long-term joint consortium. The content of the Agreement includes education, research, cooperation with industry, and other research activities involving photoresponsive materials. In addition, JANET-PRESS accepts members of other organizations such as universities or public research institutions so that the number of the research groups which have joined was over 25 at the end of September, 2011 and continues to grow. This has made it the representative research organization to work with the CNRS-led IRG in place of the Japan Scientific Consortium on “New Frontiers in Photochromism”, the research period of which will come to an end at the end of March, 2012.

  A commemorative Symposium to celebrate the establishment of this national consortium was scheduled for March 25th, 2011 but postponed due to the tragic Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and accident at the nuclear power plant on March 11th. The Symposium was eventually held on July 28th at Yokohama National University, contributing to a strengthening of understanding and ties between the three main participating universities.

  JANET-PRESS will continue to activate scientific research in photofunctional materials not only in Japan but also throughout the world. We aim to contribute to a deeper understanding of photoresponsive materials in order to unravel the unsolved problems and urgent topics to be addressed in this area, and to promote global cooperative education and research.

Yasushi Yokoyama
Member, Science Council of Japan
Ph. D., Professor of Chemistry
Member of Research and Education Council
Vice-Dean of the Graduate School of Engineering
Yokohama National University