When he was a student, Professor Tanida became interested in logic operations using natural light. However, he felt limited by only being able to identify light down to the level of one micrometer, and decided to try and create an information processing device that would work at the molecular level using DNA.
An applied physicist working with biology
My original specialization is applied physics. I studied light-related hardware. I then moved into DNA computing, and this led me back to research on light, and my current interest: photonic DNA computers that are generated by light. As you know, DNA is organized in a double helix structure consisting of combinations of pairs of bases A and T, and C and G. If we prepare a variety of synthetic DNA, some will form pairs and join together. The concept of DNA computing is based on the idea of applying DNA formation to information processing. This is further developed by the inclusion of systems for prioritizing certain processes through the application of light.
Using biological activity as a starting point for product development
I get hints for my research from the way living things operate. I combine these hints with various technologies with the goal of developing new products. The great advantage of DNA computers lies in their deep affinity with the living world. They are also compact and use little energy. They may even be used for medical purposes within the human body. In another of my projects, I was inspired by the compound eyes of insects to create a video capture system called TOMBO which is capable of taking wide-angle, high-definition, 3-D images despite its compact size. It is not long until this system is employed in actual commercial products.
Professor Tanida with his “Photonic DNA Experimental Apparatus,” which enables detailed observation of DNA capsules picked up using photo-tweezers.
The allure of mixing different kinds knowledge and expertise
I am in charge of student affairs in the HWIP. I look after things like scholarships and support for student life. For me, neither computing nor biology is “home territory.” I think this helps me communicate with students on their own level. I also want to share with students the importance of, and the enjoyment to be gained from, coming into contact with knowledge and techniques beyond your own specialization and exploring things from different perspectives.
Research projects tend to involve people with similar outlooks and values. As they work together on a project, people become even more similar. When experts in fields such as biology, computing, robotics and cognitive science collaborate, their various forms of knowledge and expertise get mixed up together, producing original and exciting findings. I look forward to this kind of mixing in the HWIP.