April 17, 1943 to September 26, 2014
Koichi Kitazawa Remembered
December 12, 2014 (PO37U). Koichi Kitazawa, a materials scientist prominent in high-Tc superconductivity, former president of Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and president of Tokyo City University, passed away on September 26, 2014, at the age of 71. He was born on April 17, 1943 at Iiyama in Nagano prefecture, Japan. After obtaining the BS degree in chemistry at the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science of the University of Tokyo, in 1966 he became graduate student in Professor Mukaibo’s laboratory, Department of Industrial Chemistry of the Faculty of Engineering at the same university, and got his master degree there in 1968. Finally, in 1972, he earned the D.Sc. degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Materials Science. In 1973, he joined the University of Tokyo as research associate, lecturer (~1979), associate professor (~1982) and professor (~1987 to 2002). Early in the 2nd decade of his 30 years career at the University of Tokyo, he started studies on superconductivity of Ba(Bi,Pb)O3 at Professor Tanaka’s laboratory and as the first in the world verified high-Tc superconductivity at and above 30 K occurring in La-Ba-Cu-O system, thus confirming the discovery of Bednorz and Mueller.
The identification of superconducting phase (La,Ba)2CuO4 in November, 1986, was attained through the collaboration between Prof. Fueki’s and Prof. Tanaka’s laboratories. Soon after a series of epoch-making experiments, he triggered so-called “High-Tc fever” by reporting at the MRS 1986 Fall Meeting, held in Boston, USA, on observed evidence of superconductivity (the Meissner effect) in the high-Tc cuprate. Since the (La,Ba)2CuO4 could be synthesized easily by the conventional solid-state reaction in air, a large number of researchers all over the world immediately started exploring new high-Tc superconductors, resulting in discoveries of numerous superconducting cuprates.
Subsequently, still at the University of Tokyo, Professor Kitazawa had been leading studies on new superconductors, superconductivity mechanisms and vortex physics in high-Tc superconductors. In addition, he promoted a new scientific field, “magneto-science” for paramagnetic materials1, using cryogen-free superconducting magnets equipped with current leads made of cuprate superconductors.
After moving to JST in 2002, he had supported many scientific projects leading to great successes, such as IPS cells by Professor Yamanaka’s2 group and the discovery of iron-based superconductors by Professor Hosono’s group. After stepping down from JST presidency, he chaired “The Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident” in 2011-2012. Besides his great achievements on high-Tc superconductors, and management of scientific organizations, he kept emphasized importance of giving dreams to young generations through advanced science and technologies; he found time to hold many scientific seminars for students at junior high schools and high schools. He moved to Tokyo City University as its president in October, 2013, and started new programs for students of the university, fueled by his enthusiasm for developing good human resources and having big dreams for the future world. His most regrettable sudden passing away occurred when implementation of his dreams was just beginning.
Jun-ichi Shimoyama (Department of Applied Chemistry, The University of Tokyo)
1This term encompasses studies of effects of strong magnetic fields on various processes involving inorganic crystals or organic and biological paramagnetic molecules. An example of the latter is the effect on the growth of various plants.
2The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Shinya Yamanaka, a stem cell researcher, for his ground-breaking research on IPS (Induced Pluripotent Stem) cells.