Greeting from the Director

It is the mission of RIEC to realize a new paradigm of communications that enriches people’s lives. Communication is important in various ways in human society. Information communication technology (ICT) has been changing the way we deal with information drastically, overriding our biological limitations and expanding the world of communication from among people to among things as well as between people and things. RIEC is determined to work for future society with further advanced ICT, contributing to the welfare of human beings by opening up a new era of academically rooted innovation befitting a university.

The year of 2020 will likely be remembered as the year of pandemic. We hope that it will be the year of solving the COVID-19 crisis in 2021 as achievement of people all over the world. In addition to the efforts as a member of the mankind for the COVID-19 crisis, RIEC would like to fulfill its responsibility as a research institute in the field of ICT, recognizing the impact of repeated exposure in information spreading particularly during pandemic or other difficult social conditions, as well as the importance of future technologies for the world with telemeetings, telelearning, telemedicine and other distant communications through the web. These issues are direct or indirect topics that RIEC should cover.

It is also important to recognize that we are in the condition, where we should make a variety of efforts that Japanese universities have never experienced before, to improve the research environment and activities. Under such a condition, RIEC, first, tries to solve problems to realize a sophisticated ICT society, and second, to investigate basic problems, which can be used for ICTs in future as it has been done. RIEC has been trying to solve many problems related in the research fields of ICTs, and it is RIEC’s responsibility to maintain contribution for constructing the future ICT society.

RIEC have been, as described below, and will respond to present-day needs, open up new worlds of communication for the future, work together with industry to create core technologies leading to the development of new industries, and through these efforts, will offer a world-class education environment. In addition to providing innovative solutions to problems through the application of ICT, we will continue to work hard to open up a new era of academically rooted innovation befitting a university and to contribute to the welfare of human beings by realizing a new paradigm of communications that enriches people’s lives.

Since its foundation in 1935, RIEC has made a series of pioneering achievements in laying the foundations of modern information and communication technology, including magnetic recording systems, semiconductor devices and optical communication technologies, and has played a world-leading role. We cover the research fields of materials, devices, communication systems, networks, human and software engineering and sciences related to ICT to promote the fusion of research fields between hardware and software sciences and also the integration of the arts and sciences.

RIEC is organized into four research divisions, two laboratories, and one center. The three research facilities have different scopes in terms of research period: the divisions focus on long-term projects, the laboratories on medium-term projects, and the center on short-term projects. The Information Devices Division carries out research into materials and devices for communication technology. The Broadband Engineering Division specifically examines the development of new technologies for the transmission and storage of vast quantities of data. The Human Information Systems Division conducts research into intelligent information processing. The Systems and Software Division is developing advanced system software for the new information society.

There are two research laboratories. The Laboratory for Nanoelectronics and Spintronics is carrying out fundamental research into high-speed semiconductor devices and advanced nano-spin science and the Laboratory for Brainware Systems is working towards its long-term goal of the seamless fusion of real and virtual worlds at the human-computer interface. The Research Center for 21st Century Information Technology promotes short-term collaboration with the industrial or academic partners in fields developed in the research divisions. In addition to these organizations, RIEC established two new laboratories in Division for the Establishment of Frontier Sciences to open new fields in our institute in future. One is Multimodal cognitive system with collaboration with Graduate School of Letters established in 2018 and the other is Spintronics/CMOS-hybrid brain-inspired integrated system with collaboration with Graduate School of Engineering established in 2019.

We have been certified by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) as a Joint Usage/Research Center for collaborative research in information and communications technology and are engaging in joint research projects with outside researchers. We are funding a variety of joint research projects, prioritizing collaborations with industry, international development, and younger researchers. This year we are conducting more than 100 joint research projects with more than 1,000 participants.

Since 2014 we have been promoting the government-funded Brainware LSI Project, which aims to create LSIs based on new concepts that are capable of human-like judgment. This program is creating advanced information processing LSIs, such as those of artificial intelligence, which can be used to apply artificial intelligence to real-world situations. Within the university, we are also expanding R&D projects centered around RIEC. First, when Tohoku University received confirmation of Designated National University title in 2017, Spintronics, RIEC members with others are leading, was recognized as one of the four top level research fields of Tohoku University. The Center for Spintronics Integrated Systems, which executed FIRST and ImPACT programs, has come to Center for Science and Innovation in Spintronics for further developments, where three centers cooperates: they are Center for Spintronics Research Network for collaborations with Japanese Universities, Graduate Program on Spintronics for educating global leaders in spintronics and Center for Innovative Integrated Electronic Systems for enhancement of global competitiveness in the field of next-generation integrated electronics systems. Second, in October 2011, in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tohoku University resolved to set up the Research Organization of Electrical Communication under the leadership of RIEC. As one of the eight major projects underway at Tohoku University’s Institute for Disaster Reconstruction and Regeneration Research, research and development for the creation of disaster-tolerant ICT is being carried out through collaboration between industry, academia, and government. Third, Advanced Institute of Yotta Informatics was established in 2016, where interdisciplinary research groups conduct projects for handling the “quality” of information to meet challenges “beyond big data” involving researchers from both arts and sciences fields. The center is now supported by the government from 2018. Fourth, in 2019, the JST-OPERA program, ‘Creation of Electric power and Information and Communication converged network infrastructure Technologies based on overall optimization of autonomous decentralized cooperative DC microgrids,’ proposed by our members started in collaboration within the university. Furthermore, RIEC also executed five JST-CREST and three JST-Sakigake projects in 2020 and continues to do in 2021. We also start to plan reconstruction of the RIEC 2nd building this year, considering spaces with novel concepts.

In 2020, we created the vision of RIEC future, considering research fields of RICE to enriches people’s lives through information communication technologies by accommodating diversity and overcoming time and space barriers. We will work hard under the vision, and we appreciate your continued support and encouragement.