Dr. Kaori Fukunaga received her Ph.D. in engineering from Tokyo Denki University in 1993 while she was working at Fujikura Ltd. She joined the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in 1994, and is Director of Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory. Her current research fields include deterioration analysis of dielectric and electrical insulating materials, and industrial applications of millimeter wave and terahertz technologies. She is an art lover from her childhood, and received her BA in Art and Design from Musashino Art University in 2013. She is a member of Science Council of Japan, IEE Japan European Materials Research Society, and Fresco Association.
Could you briefly describe your research interests, or current project?
My current research field is nondestructive testing (NDT) by using electromagnetic waves from microwave to X-ray. The electromagnetic wave can observe internal structure of opaque materials, and objects include bridges and roads in the field of civil engineering as well as cultural objects such ash paintings. It is important to choose a proper frequency based on the penetration depth and spatial resolution. For example, steel pipes in concrete building can be detected by using microwave radar at the resolution of cm order. On the other hand, separation between paint and preparation layers can be only visible by using pulsed THz wave in time domain.
What are today’s hottest trends/topics in your area of research and what challenges still remain?
The most urgent task in NDT field is to develop tomographic observation technique for composite materials, especially carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP). CFRP has been widely used in various industries, including airplanes, and the amount of production is increasing continuously. CFRP behaves as metal, fibre, and polymer at the same time, so single classic method is not sufficient to give information for diagnosis. We probably need to integrate NDT data obtained by different methods. However, that is not very easy. Each method tends to claim its advantage ’against’ other methods. Connecting different communities is the key issue not only in NDT area, but also all STEM.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
”What would you do if tomorrow were the deadline?” This is a question from a colleague, when I had many issues to be solved while I was working in Fujikura Ltd. I learned the importance of priority setting, and "to think the priority before start acting".