Emergent Bioinspired Soft Matter Research Team

Principal Investigator

PI Name Yasuhiro Ishida
Degree D.Eng.
Title Team Leader
Brief Resume
2001D.Eng., University of Tokyo
2001Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo
2002Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo
2007Lecturer, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo
2007Researcher, PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Agency
2009Team Leader, Nanocomposite Soft Materials Engineering Team, RIKEN
2010Team Leader, Bioinspired Material Research Team, RIKEN
2013Team Leader, Emergent Bioinspired Soft Matter Research Team, Supramolecular Chemistry Division, RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (-present)


Our team aims to create water-based materials, referred to as aqua materials, as replacements for conventional plastics. Taking advantage of their unique properties as moldable, portable water, together with the elaboration of their inner or surface parts, we will demonstrate their various applications as intelligent soft materials. We are employing a wide range of chemicals as the components of aqua materials, in order to improve their properties and to ultimately realize environment-conscious materials. Our challenge also includes the rational design of novel bio-inspired materials, by assembling molecules with dynamic and static functions within aqua materials used as scaffolds.

Research Fields

Chemistry, Materials Sciences


Soft material
Stimuli-responsive material
Environmentally friendly material


Synthetic hydrogel like cartilage, but with a simpler structure

– Potential as artificial cartilage and anti-vibration materials –

Electrostatic and magnetic repulsive forces are used in various places, as in maglev trains, vehicle suspensions or non-contact bearings etc.  However, design of polymer materials, such as rubbers and plastics, has focused overwhelmingly on attractive interactions for their reinforcement, while little attention has been given to the utility of internal repulsive forces.  Nevertheless, in nature, articular cartilage in animal joints utilizes an electrostatically repulsive force for insulating interfacial mechanical friction even under high compression.

We discovered that when nanosheets of unilamellar titanate, colloidally dispersed in an aqueous medium, are subjected to a strong magnetic field, they align cofacial to one another, where large and anisotropic electrostatic repulsion emerges between the nanosheets.  This magneto-induced temporal structural ordering can be fixed by transforming the dispersion into a hydrogel.  The anisotropic electrostatics thus embedded allows the hydrogel to show unprecedented mechanical properties, where the hydrogel easy deforms along a shear force applied parallel to the nanosheet plane but is highly resistive against a compressive force applied orthogonally.

The concept of embedding repulsive electrostatics in a composite material, inspired from articular cartilage, will open new possibilities for developing soft materials with unusual functions.

Hydrogel embedded with an anisotropic electrostatic repulsive force.


Yasuhiro Ishida

Team Leader y-ishida[at]riken.jp R

Noriyuki Uchida

Postdoctoral Researcher

Krishnachary Salikolimi

Postdoctoral Researcher

Kuniyo Yamada

Expert Technician

Noriko Horimoto

Technical Staff I

Koki Sano

Student Trainee

Xiang Wang

Student Trainee

Zhifang Sun

Student Trainee

Liming Liu

Student Trainee

Naoki Igarashi

Student Trainee

Hayato Kanai

Junior Research Associate

Jungho Lee

International Program Associate


  • Dec 02, 2016 RIKEN RESEARCH Photonic water shows nanosheets’ true colors
    Aqueous suspensions of nanosheets that can be tuned to reflect over a wide range of wavelengths could lead to smarter optical filters and sensors
  • Dec 18, 2015 RIKEN RESEARCH Helical pores make perfect hosts
    A porous framework consisting of liquid crystals aids the study of intriguing optical phenomena
  • Dec 04, 2015 RIKEN RESEARCH Building better bilayers
    A strategy for generating stable lipid bilayers could simplify the study of biologically important membrane proteins
  • Oct 16, 2015 RIKEN RESEARCH A hydrogel flexes its muscles
    A water-based polymer can stretch, contract and even walk like an artificial muscle in response to temperature changes
  • Mar 09, 2015 RIKEN RESEARCH Nanosheets line up to mimic nature
    A composite material mimics the properties of natural cartilage by exploiting the repulsion of like charges


#106 Frontier Material Research Facilities, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198 Japan

TEL:+81-(0)48-462-1111 (6351)