Dept. of Chemistry


Chemistry is a science dealing with the structure, synthesis, and properties of substances, particularly at the molecular level. We are surrounded by chemical products; e.g., food, clothing, housing, drugs, and so on. In addition, new materials such as those supporting computer memory storage and superconductivity have been playing an essential role in the recent progress of technology and culture. Some chemicals, on the other hand, tend to give rise to serious environmental problems, whose solutions will depend upon chemistry research and education in future. Thus, chemistry and related sciences are much closer to us than one imagines, extensively contributing to the development of science and human society.

The department of chemistry, graduate school of science, Osaka University, comprises the following four divisions covering inorganic, physical, organic, and interdisciplinary chemistry. In addition, the department has cooperative with thirteen research groups of other research institutes.

Inorganic Chemistry Division

Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Coordination Chemistry and Radiochemistry laboratories are included in this division.

Analytical Chemistry laboratory is developing nano-chemistry of liquid-liquid interfaces to elucidate specific role of the interface in chemistry. The diffusion dynamics of single molecules and the reaction mechanisms of metal-complex aggregations at the interface are investigated in relation to the separation mechanisms. New principles for migration analysis of biological micro-particles are also developed utilizing specific forces generated by a laser, an electric field and a magnetic field.

The main subject in both laboratories of Inorganic Chemistry and Coordination Chemistry is to explore novel transition metal complexes showing unique structures and properties. Various new types of mononuclear and polynuclear metal complexes have been synthesized and the relationship between their structures and chemical properties is elucidated in solid and solution states by means of electronic spectroscopy, NMR, X-ray diffraction and magnetic measurements. Furthermore, new spectroscopic phenomena induced by a magnetic field and a specific chiral recognition ability of metal complexes are also investigated.

In the Radiochemistry laboratory, superheavy elements and actinide elements are synthesized and their chemical properties are studied by some unique techniques. A new chemistry on artificial atoms composed of pion and muon, called an exotic atom, is developed in this laboratory. Nuclear reaction mechanisms of heavy ions and a finding of new nuclear phenomena, together with their application to physical and chemical

Physical Chemistry Division

In the physical chemistry division, our research and educational activities cover experimental studies of structure, properties and reactivity of molecules and condensed matter and their theoretical analysis.

In the Condensed Matter Physical Chemistry Group, electronic properties of molecular conductors, molecular magnets, metal complexes and their network magnetic systems are studied by calorimetry, transport, and magnetic measurements. Novel features originated from the cooperative effects of spins, charges and molecular motions are discussed.

The Surface Chemistry Group is concerned with electronic properties of molecules adsorbed on solid surfaces by means of fs-laser and electron spectroscopy. Micro-spot two-photon photoemission spectroscopy has been developed to probe unoccupied states in energy, time, and spatial domains. Reaction Dynamics Group aims at understanding gas-phase as well as surface chemical reactions at molecular level through the view of "stereo-dynamics". A novel combination of techniques using hexapole fields and molecular beams enables us to orient reactant molecules for controlling chemical reactions.

Biophysical Chemistry Group maintains as its primary focus the development and use of laser-based technologies to measure atomic level features of the biological systems. The results of these efforts are contributing to a deeper understanding of the nature of proteins' motions and relating the dynamics to biological function.

In the Quantum and Theoretical Chemistry Group, Computers are utilized for theoretical analysis and prediction of properties and reactivity of chemical substances, design of functional materials. Development of new methodologies for computation is also the subject in this group.

The Research Center for Structural Thermodynamics is devoted specifically to chemical thermodynamics dealing with various types of condensed matter, including hard materials such as high-Tc superconductors, soft materials such as liquid crystals, and rather complex systems such as adsorbed monolayers. We are particularly interested in "Order and Disorder" created by subtle balance of various intermolecular interactions.

A physical chemistry group in the Museum of Osaka University is mainly working on the structure and dynamics of molecules confined in the nano-space constructed in the solidstate materials, by means of high-resolution solid-state NMR and ESR with other physico-chemical measurements. We also aim to develop a new analytical method for the cultural properties in Osaka University.

Organic Chemistry Division

In the Division of Organic Chemistry, we observe natural phenomena through the structures and chemical behaviors of organic molecules, and try to discover the underlying principles operating in the life systems. We also actively extend our knowledge through theoretical considerations of the structures and properties of molecules and molecular interactions. These efforts will allow us to interpretate the sophisticated natural system and enable further creation of functionally interesting organic compounds. Division of Organic Chemistry consists of the following four independent research groups.

The research in Laboratory for Physical Organic Chemistry is directed toward molecular design and synthesis of artificial novel compounds with theoretical and functional interests in the solid state properties. Such efforts may lead to an ultimate goal to realize self-organized single molecular electronics. Major research projects of Laboratory for Structural Organic Chemistry are related to synthesis of novel extended π-electron systems and artificial supramolecules. New synthetic procedures for molecules with conjugated electronic systems are also investigated there. Systematic studies of properties for such various synthetic compounds are expected to result in discovery of novel classes of functionally interesting and versatile compounds.

Marine toxins and other biologically active compounds such as hormones are dealt with in Laboratory for Biomolecular Chemistry. New methodologies based mainly on NMR spectroscopy are being elaborated for investigation of threedimensional structures and functions of complex biomolecules. The research purpose in Laboratory for Organic Biochemistry is to clarify the functions of oligosaccharides in the living cell and plant cell. Chemical synthesis of glycoproteins, glycopeptides and oligosaccharides are potentially performed and then used it for several bioassays in order to elucidate oligosaccharide functions. Several new reactions to construct such bimolecular are also studied.

Interdisciplinary Chemistry Division

In this Division research works are oriented towards novel fields of both bioorganic and bioinorganic chemistry. Laboratory for Natural Products Chemistry mainly focuses on the functions of glycoconjugates consisting of carbohydrates linked to other structural units such as fatty acids and phosphates. Isolation of unknown bioactive compounds from natural sources, their structural, synthetic and functional studies are being intensively undertaken. The research projects in Laboratory for Bioinorganic Chemistry are directed toward the relationship between structures and functions of metalloproteins and synthesis of transition metal complexes as models for the active sites. Their model complexes are structurally and functionally compared with the active sites of the proteins.

Dept. of Macromolecular Science

Macromolecular Science was born in the middle of the last century and made rapid progress in the last several decades to fill the gap between traditional disciplines and to meet the practical needs of the new era. However, macromolecular science is not a mere extension of chemistry or physics but stands at the crossroads of chemistry, physics, and life science. Especially, macromolecular science has been regarded as an important field of science for understanding of biological phenomena at a molecular level. Macromolecules are known as a typical complex system and have recently attracted the great interest of many scientists in the field of physics. Thus, macromolecular science must be one of the most important fields of natural science in this new century.

There are several universities having departments of macromolecular science in Japan. However the department of macromolecular science of Osaka University is unique in the sense that it belongs to the graduate school of science. The others belong to the faculty of engineering, aiming at practical applications. This indicates that the objective of our department is basic research on macromolecules. The department consists of four major research groups: there are a total of eleven laboratories covering major subjects of the macromolecular science as described below. The staffs of each laboratory are famous over the world.

The department is active in international exchange. Many leading scientists of macromolecular science visit our department. The department organizes the international symposium named as "Osaka University Macromolecular Symposium" (OUMS) every two or three years. Of course there are many foreign students.

The macromolecular science course devotes itself to training graduate students by offering a systematic lecture course in macromolecular chemistry and physics. It also guides students by making them engaged in basic researches at one of the eleven laboratories. Through their graduate studies, students acquire various professional knowledge and techniques leading to the degrees of the master or doctor of science.

Research Group of Polymer Synthesis and Reaction Chemistry

In order to create new polymer materials with special functions and/or excellent properties, similar to biopolymers, the Laboratory of Polymer Synthesis aims to investigate new ideas and methods which allow us to control the structure and the molecular weight of these polymers in a precise manner. For example, this group could find out the highly selective living polymerization system with no side reactions through the research on the cationic polymerization reaction mechanism. As a result, it is now possible to produce various types of polymers such as polymers with homogeneous chain length and structure, polymers with special shape or unique properties, polymers which are highly sensitive to external stimulus, etc.

In the Laboratory of Macromolecular Reaction Chemistry, a wide variety of studies on syntheses and functionalization of macromolecules has been done based on macromolecular science, coordination chemistry and organometallic chemistry. Unique reactivity of metal complexes is applied to development of a new polymerization catalyst and precise design of macromolecular complexes. Metalloenzyme can be recognized as a representative example of functional biomacromolecules incorporating metal complexes. To understand the mechanism of metalloenzyme function, synthesis and structural characterization of a model of active site and non-natural peptides are investigated.

Research Group of Structure, Function, and Properties of Polymers

Clarification of the complicated behavior of polymer chains in solution tells us not only characteristic features (such as the chain length, the conformation, and the flexibility) of the molecules, natural or synthetic, but also intra- and intermolecular excluded-volume interactions. The Laboratory of Polymer Solutions aims at understanding systematically dilute and concentrated solution properties of polymers through measurements of static and dynamic light scattering, small-angle X-ray scattering, sedimentation, and viscosity.

Polymer chain molecules have a large number of the internal degrees of freedom and sometimes form higher-order structures. They can easily respond to the change of external fields such as mechanical and electric fields by changing their internal structures. This is a common feature of “soft matters” including micelles, liquid crystals, supramolecules, and so on. The laboratory of Polymer Physical Chemistry investigates physicochemical and rheological properties of the soft matters through viscoelastic, dielectric, rheo-optical, and nuclear magnetic resonance relaxation meaaasurements in order to elucidte the nature of macromolecules.

The Laboratory of Supramolecular Science discovered the formation of complex between polymer chains and cyclodextrins, which has a necklace-like structure. The factors governing this complex formation were investigated by X-ray diffraction, NMR, and so on. This study is now being developed as a so-called supermolecular science. They succeeded also in the artificial construction of supramolecular structures on the binding of antibody to antigen. They try to build supramolecular structures using transition metal catalysis, which should show quite new functions.

Research Group of Macromolecular Assemblies

Any small change in the primary structure may lead to some serious effect on its higher structural hierarchy. For example, lack of vitamin C causes the fatal disease “scurvy” because that stops formation of normal collagen fiber. That is, without vitamin C, no hydroxylation of proline takes place and thereby no further stabilization of collagen fiber. The Laboratory of Macromolecular Structure aims to elucidate the relationship between structure and physical properties (or functions) of macromolecules at atomic resolution using X-ray diffraction, neutron scattering and infrared and Raman spectroscopy.

Polymers bearing functional groups of strong attractive interactions like the hydrophobic and ionic interactions as well as hydrogen bonding form various types of polymer aggregates to exhibit unique properties and functions. Basic understanding of these polymers is important in the fields not only of polymer industry but also of molecular biology. The Laboratory of Polymer Assemblies investigates interrelation among the chemical structure, self-associating structure, and properties of polymer aggregates in solution. Currently this laboratory studies amphiphilic polyelectrolytes, intra- and intermolecularly hydrogen-bonding polymers, polymer living anions, helical polymers, and so on.

Research Group of Informative Polymer Science

Laboratory of Protein Folding: Protein folding is a process in which an extended polypeptide chain acquires a unique folded conformation with biological activity. Laboratory of Protein Folding is investigating the mechanism of protein folding and misfolding to improve our understanding of the structure and function of proteins. This topic is also important for understanding of many critical biological processes and disease states because these involve protein misfolding such as amyloid fibril formation. We are studying the mechanism of protein folding and misfolding with various approaches including spectroscopies (NMR, fluorescence, CD), physicochemical measurements (calorimetry, analytical ultracentrifugation) and fluorescence microscopy.

Laboratory of Protein Crystallography: In 1959 the lab was established as the division of Protein Crystallography to elucidate the molecular structure of proteins by X-ray crystallography. Nowadays the X-ray method has become the most powerful tool to determine protein structures. One of our aim is to spread the application of this method throughout biological science. Current research projects are focused on biological macromolecular assemblies and membrane proteins. Especially, our lab is interested in studying the structure and function of biological energy transducing proteins, such as photosynthetic electron transfer complex and microtubule dynein motor.

The aim of the Laboratory of Supramolecular Crystallography is to elucidate the structure of biological macromolecules and biological macromolecular assemblies to understand their functions based on the atomic structures. X-ray crystallography is one of the most powerful tools for structure determination of biological macromolecules and biological macromolecular assemblies, and we are also working on the development of new technologies and methodologies of protein crystallography, including the synchrotron radiation beamline at SPring-8.

Laboratory of Chemistry for Environment and Safety: Li ion battery has now become a fundamental device in our daily life. However, the use of organic solvents and very high energy density in Li ion batteries introduce the battery include dangerous hazards such as ignition accidents. In this laboratory, we are developing a new class of solid polymer electrolytes, named low-barrier ion conductive polymer electrolytes, for Li ion batteries to realize the safety of these batteries. In addition, this laboratory aims at developing new photo-chemical energy conversion system. As the laboratory belongs to the department for the administration of safety and hygiene, we carry out the research projects to contribute to the safety of science and technology, together with the activity for maintaining the safety level of university research work and experiments.