As a researcher, I want to provide solutions and concrete methods that are applicable in the real world.

One of the factors that made me interested in continuing to conduct research at a company was a news report that caught my eye while I was a student. There was an accident involving fire retardant spraying from the parking lot of a retail store covering the entire area, and requiring many people to clean it up manually because no effective way to collect it could be found.
At the time, I was specializing in research on surface tension, and became annoyed at my own lack of ability to offer a solution to such a situation. It made me want to someday become a researcher that uses logic and experience to produce technology that can be used to solve such real world problems. That conviction remains my motivation to engage in research to this day.
The research carried out at Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. which is expected to contribute to social needs and to the Toyota Group, offers the joy of achieving outcomes that will prove helpful in the real world. Although it goes without saying that there is also some pressure, there is also a sense of being engaged in finding solutions to problems rather than trying to find fulfillment only in our own interests.
My current research differs from the field I specialized in at university, but the elements of making a theoretical study and validating it through experimentation remains the same. My next goal is to convert theory into technology efficiently and effectively by using model-based experiments that capture the essence of things.

There are differences in the perspectives of physics and engineering, and that in itself is interesting.

The laboratory I am assigned to is working on the theme of establishing technology to form high-performance fiber reinforced plastic efficiently at a low cost. I believe that if the metals currently in use can be replaced with fiber reinforced plastic, the resulting reduction in weight will make vehicles more fuel efficient and lead to reduced CO2 emissions. Although I am still at the stage of validating basic theoretical models through model-based experiments, I am continuing my research to eventually achieve commercialization.
In the laboratory, I conduct my research in collaboration with experts from various fields, and our discussions lead to strategic decision-making. At first, I sometimes found it confusing to work with researchers from a different area of expertise. As an expert in physics, I have a tendency to want to understand phenomenon through a unified theory. In contrast, the engineering perspective differs, as I see it, by highlighting the specificity of phenomena and drawing out new options. Bringing different perspectives of separate fields together can lead to more flexible suggestions to solve issues and give hints for new solutions. This constantly gives me a sense of the significance of having people from separate fields conduct research together.
At the same time, the root cause of phenomena in the real world is a physical phenomenon, and I sometimes come to the realization that issues that seem different at first glance are the same at their core. The search for the new solutions, the broader perspective, and the perspective of consolidating things into a single theory are all crucial to shaping technology, and balancing them in the process of conducting research is interesting.

Accumulating the process of tying in self-initiated research theme to monozukuri.

The fiber reinforced plastic research I am currently working on is a theme initiated at Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. It differs somewhat from the stance of pursuing contracted research requested by a Group company, but the aspect of keeping social needs in mind does not change.
We have opportunities to present our research outcomes to Group companies, which sometimes lead to contracted research or to the transfer of technology to those companies. My own research has not yet reached the stage where I can make a presentation, and I will continue to work towards tangible outcome for the foreseeable future. The outcomes themselves are presented to the wider world through papers or press releases after filing a patent application and working in conjunction with the Toyota Group to make the technology more mature.
At Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. we are fortunate to have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with engineers at the Group companies, creating an environment that makes it easy to obtain information concerning technology or thematic expectations.
At the same time, I also have the personal aspiration, after acquiring experience as a researcher, of finding and pursuing a research theme that will help realize a peaceful society. Although technology is sometimes used as a tool to bring down others, I intent to counter such nefarious uses by devoting myself to creating technology that will protect people.

Typical Day

One thing I look forward to at work is attending the seminars held a few times a month. We can listen to talks given by various experts such as university professors during our work hours, allowing us to collect information efficiently. Nobel Prize recipients have even been invited to give some of those seminars. Moreover, the company employs a diversity of people, and I try to make as much time as possible to discuss or chat not just with people in the same department, but in other departments and with people who joined the company at around the same time I did.

*Details in the article are those at the time of the interview.