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Dr. Azusa N. Hattori, The Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research

Dr. Azusa N. Hattori                                                                                                 Associate Professor                                                                                             Department of Three-Dimensional Nanostructure Science                                The Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research

"No mystery too tiny: making big discoveries through analysis of nanosized phenomena"

An article by Dr Azusa N. Hattori entitled “Three-dimensional Nanoconfinement Supports Verwey Transition in Fe3O4 Nanowire at 10 nm LengthScale” was recently published in Nano Letters [1]. In this research, ultra-thin nanowires made from magnetite (Fe3O4) reveal insights into an intriguing property of this mineral, which is expected to lead to the development of electronic and spintronic nano-devices for green innovations in technology.

What makes your research so intriguing?

The primary focus of my research is to create nanosized structures of metallic oxides. As technology utilizing silicon as a material has begun to reach its limit, metallic oxides are gathering attention as next generation materials for use in electronics. Though creating small objects from these hard metallic oxides poses various difficulties, my team and I managed to create one of the smallest structures in the world at 10~20 nanometers, which is about ten thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. (Reference: https://www.nano.gov/nanotech-101/what/nano-size) Being able to create such microscopic structures is testament to the unique approach I apply to my research, in which I utilize specially-made nanofabrication technology to ultimately identify the origin where properties are produced.

In my most recent study, I developed high-quality nanostructured materials based on technology found in my background of surface science and worked on clarifying a longstanding issue regarding the origin of the Verwey transition in magnetite. The Verwey transition is a fascinating phenomenon observed in magnetite at exceedingly low temperatures of around 120 K, or -150°C. The transition causes the mineral to experience a sharp drop in conductivity through a shift in its crystal structure, transforming the mineral from a metal to an insulator. Just like a jigsaw puzzle, once you reveal their nanoscale origins, even chaotic phenomena like the Verwey transition can be analyzed and understood. These are the kinds of moments that make my research so exciting and rewarding.

Figure: Crystal structure of magnetite

What do you aspire to achieve as a researcher?

My current focus is on the study to uncover and understand the existence of the smallest functional expression in materials through an aggressive approach, which pushes micro-artificial nanostructures to their limits. 

Moving forward, I hope to create a methodology which turns the current approach on its head, a new method of nanostructural fabrication in which functions are controlled and designed from their smallest scale.

Put simply, this new methodology will be like performing magic with science, allowing us to create novel functions by controlling the nanostructure of materials. The realization of this methodology is both my lifelong dream and my greatest ambition as a scientist.


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[1] R. Rakshit, A. N. Hattori, et al. Three-dimensional Nanoconfinement Supports Verwey Transition in Fe3O4 Nanowire at 10 nm LengthScale. Nano Letters. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b01222

For more information on Dr. Hattori’s work, visit: https://www.sanken.osaka-u.ac.jp/labs/tdn


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