Saint-Gobain and French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Co-Established International Joint Research Unit at NIMS

(2014.11.18 Update)

French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS)

Saint-Gobain and CNRS, both headquartered in France, jointly established UMI-LINK at NIMS in Tsukuba City, where the three organizations launched research and development activities.


Saint-Gobain and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), both headquartered in France, jointly established an international joint research unit (known by the acronym UMI-LINK) at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Tsukuba City, where the three organizations launched research and development activities.

Saint-Gobain and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), both headquartered in France, and the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) established the Laboratory for Innovative Key Materials and Structures (LINK), which will serve as a new international joint research unit (UMI) to promote interactions and collaboration between Japan and France in materials science and engineering, and new innovations based on such cooperation. French Ambassador to Japan Thierry Dana have attended the opening ceremony held at the auditorium in the NanoGREEN/WPI-MANA Building (NIMS Namiki-site), on October 28.

CNRS has developed a structure called international joint research units (UMI) with the aim of promoting international joint research. The UMI is CNRS’s research unit that is co-established with other organizations. Recently, CNRS and Saint-Gobain decided to create a new UMI called LINK at NIMS in the Tsukuba Science City, Japan. As described below, collaborative research and development had been carried out in the past under the bilateral frameworks between Saint-Gobain and CNRS, between CNRS and NIMS, and between NIMS and Saint-Gobain. Given such experience, these three organizations had been considering developing a cooperative research system to further enhance Japan-France cooperation in materials science and accelerate materials research and development. A letter of intent (LOI) was signed under the attendance of French Minister of Higher Education and Research Geneviève Fioraso and Japanese Minister Ichita Yamamoto in June 2013 to facilitate collaboration among NIMS, CNRS and Saint-Gobain in launching a UMI. This event further accelerated the embodiment of trilateral coordination. Such efforts led Saint-Gobain and CNRS to jointly set up LINK, a type of UMI, at NIMS. Saint-Gobain and CNRS have created and operated joint research units (UMR) before, but they had not created a research unit outside of France. LINK is their first international joint research unit.

This new research unit is a result of long-term cooperation among Saint-Gobain, CNRS and NIMS. In France, both Saint-Gobain and CNRS have established their respective UMRs within the research facilities of Saint-Gobain in Aubervilliers and Cavaillon. NIMS and Saint-Gobain have also conducted several joint research projects over the past five years at the NIMS-Saint-Gobain Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials, which was established at NIMS based on an agreement signed in June 2010. Furthermore, CNRS researchers and NIMS researchers have been working together closely for many years. The two parties concluded a comprehensive partnership agreement in May 2012, and have been actively interacting in research and co-hosting workshops involving French and Japanese organizations.

This new research unit established by Saint-Gobain, NIMS and CNRS represents an innovative model of developing international cooperative relations among highly talented researchers. Research activities at LINK include the creation and synthesis of novel materials, refining processes and the measurement of physical properties. Since CNRS possesses a research unit called the Institute of Chemical Science (INC) which is specialized for materials chemistry, it has a high reputation in these kinds of materials research. At the same time, the NIMS research team is able to provide robust contributions to these kinds of research as it has developed an evaluation method to characterize nanostructures, physical property modeling and materials technology, which allow for identifying the positive properties of nanomaterials, and as it possesses outstanding research facilities and equipment.

This project is also a part of Saint-Gobain program to strengthen its basic research, and is tied in with world-class universities and public research institutes to raise the skill levels of Saint-Gobain researchers and to recruit talented young researchers. NIMS is expected to serve as a research hub in Japan and foster capable researchers. NIMS’s such reputation was a major reason for the decision made to establish a UMI at NIMS.

CNRS has already established international research units at three different locations in Japan. They include the Laboratory for Integrated Micromechatronic Systems (LIMMS) at the Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and the Japanese-French Laboratory in Informatics at the National Institute of Informatics. The recent establishment of LINK at NIMS is expected to strengthen the presence of CNRS in Japan.

At the new UMI, we are planning to carry out academic research to identify physical and chemical properties of materials with novel nanostructures, and applied research aiming at the use of the nanostructures in industrial society. Many people are passionately hoping that materials with new functions will be developed from the Saint-Gobain framework onward, and that such initiatives will allow efficient provision of safe materials to industrial and human societies. We are aiming to further advance Japan-France relations and the globalization of science and technology. To this end, Saint-Gobain, CNRS and NIMS will continue trilateral efforts to accelerate research and development activities in the hope of bringing major benefits to society.

For more detail

Maiko Yamaguchi (Public Relations)
TEL: +81-3-3288-7515
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Guy Faure (CNRS, Tokyo)
TEL: +81-3-3443-8551
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Inquiry about joint research

Naoki Ohashi (Division Director, Environment and Energy Materials Division, NIMS)
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For general inquiry

Public Relations Office, NIMS
TEL: +81-29-859-2026
FAX: +81-29-859-2017
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