The amoeba—a flexible organism called RIKEN


  • Prof. Wolfgang Knoll

    Corresponding author
    1. Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung, Ackermannweg 10, D-55128 Mainz (FRG)
    2. Frontier Research Program, The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Wako, Saitama (Japan)
    • Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung, Ackermannweg 10, D-55128 Mainz (FRG)
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    • is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, FRG, and is also responsible for a research group as Head of Laboratory for Exotic Nanomaterials in the Frontier Research Program hosted by RIKEN in Japan. In addition, he holds a position as Consulting Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. After a basic physics education at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, he earned a Ph.D. degree in biophysics at the University of Konstanz, FRG, in 1976. His main research areas include thin films and interfaces, linear and nonlinear optics, integrated optics, surface functionalization by supramolecular architectures, and nanotechnology.

  • I would like to thank Prof. M. Oda for the diagram of the RIKEN amoeba and Mr. Soichi Mori from the Advisory Council's Secretariat for giving me a paper on RIKEN's management from which I could take many details about the institute.


Two aims of RIKEN, the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, are “to conduct comprehensive research in science and technology” and “to disseminate the results of research and new technological developments”. How RIKEN is organized and managed in order to pursue these goals is the subject of this essay, which likens RIKEN to a unicellular, multinuclear animal living in the Sea of Japan. Details are given of the Frontier Research Program, which is designed to further cooperation with the wider international research community.