The ultimate goal is a chemical that runs using only solar light. Aiming to be the world's no. 1 in photocatalysis.

What are photocatalysts?

Photocatalysts are substances that, without the use of electricity, can induce an oxidation reaction and a reduction reaction just by being exposed to light. Photocatalysts are used, for example, in wall materials such as those for houses, building, and expressways. Photocatalysts adsorb toxic substances produced by economic activity and render them harmless under sunlight. Environmental pollutants can be removed from the atmosphere simply by the power of light, without the fuss of maintenance.

Going beyond current applications to the creation of a solar-powered chemical plant

The generation of power by installing solar panels to roofs has already become common, but that electricity cannot be stored and preserved. However, because photocatalysts can produce chemical matter, solar energy can be stored in the chemical matter. In other words, photocatalysts are at the opposite extreme to solar power generation, in that they have the ability to cover for solar power generation's weakness.
Our research puts emphasis on manufacturing: we aim to create a chemical factory that transforms substance A into a useful substance B. Usually, great amounts of energy are used to generate high temperature in order to induce a chemical reaction. But by using photocatalysts and sunlight, we can convert A to B at room temperature and with almost no energy costs. In other words, we are conducting research for the purpose of creating a solar-powered chemical factory that runs on solar energy.

Research that constantly aims to be the best in the world

The most well-known photocatalyst is titanium oxide, but it has the weakness of only responding to ultraviolet light. That is why we are striving to develop a photocatalyst that responds to visible light. Sunlight contains visible light having various amounts of energy, as well as ultraviolet light. To what extent we can utilize that visible light is the key to the development of photocatalysts.
The performance superiority or inferiority of each photocatalyst is distinct, making it a competitive world. To be honest, this field of research is a very tough one. But, even given that, one experiences a great sense of achievement when one creates the highest efficiency in the world, and when that is recognized not only by oneself, but also by people around the world. That is why we are motivated to do this work, and why we continue to constantly aim to be the best in the world.

Hiroshi Kominami
Professor, Department of Applied Chemistry

Affiliation: Department/ Applied Chemistry, Graduate school/ Innovative Engineering, Molecular and Material Engineering
Laboratory: Surface Design Chemistry Laboratory

Career overview 1993 Research Assistant, Kindai University
1998-1999 Postdoctoral Researcher, California Institute of Technology
2000 Lecturer, Kindai University
2004 Assistant Professor, Kindai University
2006 Visiting Assistant Professor, Shiga University of Medical Science
2007 Associate Professor, Kindai University; Part-time Lecturer, Kyushu Institute of Technology
2007-2011 Visiting Associate Professor, Shiga University of Medical Science; Visiting Researcher, University of Tokyo
2008 Part-time Lecturer, Tokyo Institute of Technology
2010 Joint Research Fellow, Institute for Catalysis, Hokkaido University
2012 Part-time Lecturer, University of Yamanashi
2014 Professor, Kindai University
2016 Part-time Lecturer, Tokyo Institute of Technology; Concurrent Lecturer, Chuo University