This research area is aimed at pioneering development of “element-blocks” comprising a diverse array of element groups with innovative synthetic processes that exploit organic chemistry methods as well as inorganic element-block preparation techniques. The development of methods for precise connection of element-blocks is anticipated to open up a new field of “element-block polymers,” which will surpass conventional organic polymers in their potential to control electronic, optical, and magnetic properties. New interface and hierarchy control methods that utilize non-covalent bond interaction and nanophase separation of dissimilar polymer chains will be explored, moreover, to overcome the trade-off between organic polymeric materials in the solid state and inorganic materials through high-level fusion of these two types of materials. Based on this innovative concept, we aim to create “polymeric materials based on element-blocks” and formulate related theories.  Advanced inorganic materials, including covalently-bonded inorganic materials such as zeolite and graphite and ionic solids such as electroceramics are produced as thermodynamically stable structures. For advanced inorganic materials, however, there is no synthetic concept similar to that for organic polymers and inorganic polymers, as typified by polysiloxane, to support flexible design of various molecular structures . Inorganic element-blocks featuring functions that cannot be achieved with conventional organic compounds have recently been synthesized. Examples include cluster compounds in which inorganic elements are regularly and spatially arranged. Organic chemistry techniques have been strategically applied to inorganic element-blocks to produce new element-blocks that are neither organic nor inorganic, as in the case of boron clusters ingeniously incorporated into carbon-based π-conjugated systems, for which precise control of LUMO energy levels is possible. Polymerization via connecting element-blocks through conjugated polymer chains makes it possible to alter the emission wavelength and the quantum yield. It is anticipated, moreover, that interface and hierarchy control by nanophase separation with π-electron system block polymers cross-linked by electron-rich elements will lead to the construction of innovative semiconductor devices that could never be realized with conventional organic polymers or inorganic materials. Examples include pn junction semiconductors that allow flexible control of energy levels and spatial arrangement. These developments and concepts gave birth to the idea of designing and synthesizing new structural units (“element-blocks”) composed of a diverse array of element groups, developing methods to polymerize them, and acquiring techniques for higher-order structural and interface and hierarchy control to yield the desired functions. This would facilitate creation of new polymeric materials that share, at a high level, electronic, optical, and magnetic properties that are not achievable with conventional organic polymeric materials and forming properties of molding processability and flexible designability that conventional inorganic materials lack.  The establishment and development of this area require a sophisticated combination of conventional synthetic methods drawn from organic, inorganic, organometallic, and polymer chemistry, as well as fabrication techniques for low-dimensional inorganic nano structures, to create new materials. In addition, it is essential to elucidate the functions and physical properties of these materials and to provide a vital theoretical basis for them. To this end, an internationally unique research group will be organized with the world’s leading researchers at its core, and young researchers from diverse fields who are interested in this area will be encouraged to participate. By earnestly pursuing collaborative research, we will strive to take the lead in establishing a new academic area in the realm of polymeric materials science in the world, while promoting interdisciplinary training of young researchers with a broad perspective and high aspirations for the creation of new concepts.
Participating research groups  
A01 Design of element-blocks
In FY 2012, Group A01 will attempt polymerization of “element-blocks” from the perspective of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and organic-inorganic hybrid chemistry in collaboration with Group A02. Based on these attempts, Group A01 will identify fundamental challenges for the design of element-blocks combining typical elements, transition metal elements, unique inter-element bonds, and organic backbones, that are expected to allow precise control and exhibit outstanding physical properties as well as optical and electronic functions and element-blocks featuring functions not achievable with conventional organic compounds and organic functional groups introduced into inorganic cluster compounds, whose structures and sizes are precisely controlled, while reinforcing the model case library presented by Group A04. In FY 2013 and beyond, a variety of creative seeds provided by young researchers selected from among applicants will be developed as element-blocks through appropriate cooperative and collaborative research under the direction of Group A04. The creation of highly functional polymeric materials based on element-blocks will be promoted in cooperation with Groups A02 and A03.

A02 Control of polymerization
In FY 2012, the polymerization of element-blocks by organic synthetic and organometallic methodology, or inorganic chemistry methodology will be explored. Element-block polymers will be designed, moreover, by introducing element-blocks through polymer reactions. The formation of primary and higher-order structures and the related physical properties of the materials will be investigated in collaboration with Groups A01 and A03 in order to clarify the underlying issues concerning precise primary structure control. In particular, the balance between the rigid backbone of element-blocks and the flexible backbone of the connecting regions in forming higher-order structures, hyper-branching via polymerization of multifunctional element-blocks, and utilization of weak inter-element interactions that are essential for higher-order structure formation will be investigated. The model case library to be presented by Group A04 in FY 2013 and beyond will also be reinforced. From FY 2013 forward, a variety of creative seeds provided by young researchers selected from among applicants will be developed as element-blocks through appropriate cooperative and collaborative research under the direction of Group A04. Serving as an intermediary between Groups A01 and A03 while conducting collaborative efforts with these groups, Group A02 will train researchers who are capable of pursuing studies from a broad perspective ranging from element-block design to materials development to promote the creation of highly functional polymeric materials based on element-blocks.

A03 Interface and hierarchy control
In FY 2012, Group A3 will pursue collaborative research with Groups A01, A02, and A04, conducted by researchers with proven track records in the field of surface/layer interface structure control and physical characterization of various polymers, as well as in the design and synthesis of organic-inorganic hybrid materials in search of optimal optical and electronic properties. This research will clarify the challenges involved in the creation of materials to serve as a basis for interface and hierarchy control with element-blocks and element-block polymers, and three-dimensional space control of multifunctional cluster-type element-blocks. In addition, Group A03 will collaborate with researchers who have substantial experience in the evaluation of electronic, magnetic, and optical properties to uncover issues related to materials design with an eye to vigorously developing advanced new functional materials for the future. In FY 2013 and beyond, a variety of creative interface and hierarchy control technologies developed by participating young researchers selected from among applicants will be fully utilized in the creation of polymeric materials based on element-blocks under the direction of Group A04. At the same time, creative element hybrid polymers will be developed into high-performance, high-functionality materials through appropriate cooperative and collaborative research. These activities will provide training for researchers who are capable of conducting studies from a broad perspective ranging from element-block design to materials development. Thus, they will promote the creation of highly functional polymeric materials based on element-blocks featuring the super-functionality required for the future.

A04 Comprehensive “seeds” training
Establishing this area as a truly creative, highly innovative academic area will require introducing “mutations” that will produce breakthroughs by incorporating a wide range of techniques and ideas that are not confined within narrow limits. In FY 2012, Group A04 will establish a strong foundation for promoting collaborative inter- and intra-group research projects. This will be accomplished by assigning the project leader with substantial experience in the construction of element-block polymers and the formation of higher-order structures along with a researcher with proven ability to perform theoretical analysis of materials consisting of diverse elements, to present model cases for the creation of new polymeric materials based on element-blocks. In FY 2013 and beyond, deploying this area’s characteristic approach of utilizing a variety of elements, Group A04 will recruit young researchers who have the vision to create, on their own initiative, materials for the future that are superior to conventional organic polymers, and inorganic and organic-inorganic hybrid materials, based on organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and organometallic chemistry. Thus, new ideas will be cultivated through exchanges among researchers in different fields by attending group meetings held by the various groups (Groups A01, A02, and A03) under the supervision of the project leader to improve academic standards by training researchers through promotion of mutual exchange and collaborative research. Group A04 will thus play a key role in actively promoting the creation of new polymeric materials based on element-blocks, with which the vigorous development of advanced new functional materials for the future can be expected upon completion of research in this area and the formulation of related theories.