About Murata Laboratory


Neutrons are a nucleon (very little particle) which compose substances.
Neutron was discovered by Sir James Chadwick in 1932, and since then it has deeply concerned human beings.

The most famous case is nuclear reactor.
Uranium 235 loaded in the nuclear reactor core as fuel is broken by nuclear fission process to emit neutrons and a huge amount of energy. Thanks to wisdom obtained by forerunners of nuclear engineering, we have safely extracted gigantic energy from the reaction controlling high energy incident neutrons. However, in a long lapse of time we are slowly becoming careless, and nature denounces the human beings, Nuclear Accident in Fukushima. Now we must think it over sincerely and consider seriously about our future.

Half a century have passed since the technology of nuclear reactor was established. We researchers are recovering our carelessness now and at the same time we are thinking of next-generation energy resources. One of them is nuclear fusion reactor, which has the same energy generating system as the sun. Nuclear fusion reactor similarly generates neutrons and energy from hydrogen loaded as fuel. At present, an experimental nuclear fusion reactor was constructed in Cadarache (France), which is named ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). It is expected to be safer (no criticality accident) and cleaner energy (less radioactivity produced). The development is ongoing under the collaboration of many countries.

Recently, neutrons are utilized as a probe to see structure of materials in very detail. It requires an intense neutron source. In the US and Japan, large proton accelerators were thus built to prepare a very strong neutron field, SNS and J-PARC, respectively. J-PARC of Japan can generate very slow neutrons (cold neutrons) and state-of-the-art researches on neutron science are being carried out.

And more recently a brand-new cancer therapy using neutrons, boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), is focused on and developed worldwide. BNCT is known as a promising radiotherapy for cancers having an ability to selectively kill tumor cells. We have finally started Osaka Univ. project named CSePT in 2013.

Of course it is known that neutrons can give unwanted influence to human body. However, at the present time, it is being utilized for generating energy, analyzing materials and even treating cancers.

In Murata Lab. the neutron is studied, because neutron can perform excellent jobs as described above although it is normally and unfortunately recognized as a “bad” fellow. We will do neutron science researches (neutronics studies) and in addition various researches on other radiations, gamma-ray, X-ray and charged particle for science and technology.

Neutrons and other radiations are an extremely small particle and it is thus not visible. In addition, radiations would be a cause of exposure. It means it is not so easy to carry out researches on radiations. However, if the researches are important and valuable for human beings, we think we have to conduct it and universities could do it, because it is difficult to perform in private companies.

Please join us, if you are interested in our research.

April 1st, 2014

Prof. Isao Murata