Graduate Application

I. International Institute for Sustainability with Knotted Chiral Meta Matter (SKCM2) hosted at Hiroshima University (Japan)

Future technological progress relies on designing meta-matter with unusual and highly desira-ble material properties which can be achieved only by cross-pollination and fusion of different research fields and, certainly, cannot be done without interdisciplinary and creative scientists. Here, at SKCM2, we interknit mathematics, physics, chemistry, material science, biology, cosmology & planetary science to create entirely new research fields and to contribute to enabling a sustainable future via fundamental science breakthroughs. The key goal of this endeavor is to develop the next generation of talented re-searchers and educators with deep expertise in the interdisciplinary fields of knotted chiral meta-matter.

I.1. About us

International Institute for Sustainability with Knotted Chiral Meta Matter at Hiroshima University was selected for The World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) Program by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT, Japan) in Fall of 2022.

The missions of WPI-SKCM2 are the following:
・Establish a new research field of knotted, chirality-enabled meta matter
・Develop solitonic knots as new, designable quasi-atoms & quasi-molecules
・Cross-pollinate topology & chirality knowledge across disciplines & scales
・Create foundations for technological innovation to solve global knotty problems
・Become a magnet to attract & a knot to inter-connect young talent globally
・Create a testbed for research-based education reforms within & beyond Japan
・Inter-link natural & social sciences for sustainability & global peace

I.2. What is the paradigm of “knotted chiral meta matter”?

Just like one can make a knot in a string, physical field lines (like the force field lines created by a magnet) can be knotted too. These knots then exhibit properties of particles, which are artificial analogs of atoms. We can create them at will in materials like magnets & liquid crystals with the help of chirality, a property of objects with mirror images not overlapping each other, like our right and left hands. We seek to establish a research paradigm of “knotted chiral meta matter,” with such knots in physical fields as its building blocks. We will probe fundamental laws of nature at scales from its smallest building blocks to the entire Universe through recreating natural phenomena in experimentally accessible systems, like the liquid crystals used in displays. To accomplish this, we will integrate knowledge in pure & applied math with that in physics, planetary science, cosmology, biology, material science & engineering. We will create crystals of knots in fields and other artificial analogs of natural matter, making new materials by design. For example, we will enable thermal superinsulation needed to save energy wasted for heating and cooling buildings, which consume 40% of all energy generated globally. Saving this energy by adopting our materials would help reduce the global energy demand and mitigate climate change. The PhD students who will be part of our graduate program are envisaged to be the scientific leaders in the new emerging field of knotted chiral meta matter that we intend to introduce to the scientific society. With highly interdisciplinary training and global experiences of conducting research in top participating research centers, they will be prepared to lead the future science, education and societal efforts globally.

I.3. Studying at WPI-SKCM2

Besides the unique research subject and areas of study, there are other strong reasons to study at SKCM2. We ensure degree completion with an appropriate supporting environment for both research and personal life.
To facilitate a substantial research environment, we ensure the co-mentoring of young researchers, doctoral students, and postdocs, where these researchers will have primary, secondary, and international co-mentors with whom they will jointly publish while supported by the WPI grant. For example, a doctoral student in Physics at HU might be co-advised by HU PIs in chemistry or math and by a PI from an international node. A critical mass of active interdisciplinary researchers coordinates to solve problems with you which can not only ensure degree completion in your planned program of study but also cultivate your expertise and facilitate your research career.
We also organize various tutorials and short courses around the World for teaching key concepts from fields different from one’s primary training under the umbrella of knotted meta-matter. Public lectures by Peace Nobel Laureates will complement the science programs of WPI schools, calling for important roles to be played by scientists to sustain global peace.
Students can spend extended periods of time at the other WPI nodes, such as MIT, Cambridge, and CU-Boulder. These arrangements allow doctoral students to take specialized courses at partner institutions. We dedicate significant resources to sponsor student travel and research exchanges between Japanese & international nodes of the WPI-SKCM2. Modeled after the top graduate programs in the USA and UK, with graduate students from such programs as frequent visitors, we intend to create a student-centered environment preparing the tomorrow’s global leaders in fundamental science for sustainability.

To enhance your personal life in Higashi Hiroshima City, we provide various support. In cooperation with local governments, we provide English-language support for the daily lives of researchers and accompanying persons, including schooling and housing. All international residents living or working in Higashi Hiroshima city are also eligible to apply for the Japanese classes. By communicating with locals, one can enrich understanding of Japanese culture and society. WPI-SKCM2 will organize workshops for family members of foreign visitors/students to become familiar with Japanese traditions ( like mizuhiki and origami or tea ceremony).
We provide a great environment to do science. Shared space for WPI-SKCM2 students/postdocs is secured at VBL, and a new building is under construction. The new research building is to be erected, which will serve as the center’s core, will have an open space, the Ideas-Exchange Lounge, and will provide an environment for meetings and informal discussions to promote the fusion of different fields and brain circulation. For example, we have everyday coffee/tea meetings, where one can freely discuss pending scientific problems with peers and senior advisors having electronic boards at hand. We organize weekend hikes within the Chugoku region including prefectures near Hiroshima.
The WPI-SKCM2 has close contact with colleagues from different research areas across Hiroshima University and provides shared research laboratories being able to tackle diverse scientific problems. We are working to create a network of industrial and non-commercial partners who would support our activities and co-fund research. Our alumni will have great chances to join those enterprises after graduating from the WPI-SKCM2.

I.4 Vision for graduate program admissions

We recruit students with a wide variety of backgrounds to join us. We admit students based on their potential to contribute to their chosen field.

WPI-SKCM2 does not discriminate based on race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national origin, political beliefs, or disability unrelated to the job or course of study requirements. Immigration status does not factor into decisions about admissions and financial aid.

WPI-SKCM2 actively seeks applicants from groups historically underrepresented in graduate schools of Japan, with a strong intention of achieving gender balance and recruiting talent from all over the World. All degree candidates are admitted for full-time study beginning in the fall term, though exceptions can be made in special circumstances and starting the studies from the Spring semester is also possible

The WPI-SKCM2 can also accept candidates with their own funding who are also welcome to apply for a place of study. We might be able to provide additional support, depending on the requirements and guidelines of your fellowship or other sources of support. If you have independent funding and would like to apply to the WPI-SKCM2, we recommend that you contact us to discuss your application beforehand by emailing us.

II. Apply to study at WPI-SKCM2

WPI-SKCM2 looks forward to reviewing your application for admission to our graduate program. Please see the following description for what we expect in candidates, what program we offer, and specific application procedures.

II.1. What are we looking for in our candidates?

・An undergraduate degree in Physics, Mathematics, Material Science, Biology, Chemistry, Cosmology, Earth and Planetary Science, or other related disciplines.

・ An interest in interdisciplinary sciences and willingness to work with several PIs from different research fields in Japan and abroad.

・English proficiency, and good communication skills.

・No prior knowledge of the theory of knots or chirality phenomena, or any other preparation backgrounds beyond undergraduate curriculum, is required.

II.2. Our program

The WPI-SKCM2 offers 5-year PhD-degree programs (with 2-year master-degree obtained automatically as an intermediate step). SKCM2 students will be expected to take a set of core courses developed by the institute and may also take courses taught by other graduate programs at HU such as physics, chemistry, biology, earth science and cosmology, and mathematics to meet the program coursework requirements.

Programs start in April and October of each academic year.

 The program includes:

・An interdisciplinary research project supervised by experts from different disciplines.
・Training technical skills in focus areas like topology and knot theory and related subjects to support your development as a professional researcher.
・Informal communication with renowned scientists regularly visiting WPI-SKCM2
・The opportunity to undertake collaborative research visits to our partner institutes abroad.

WPI-SKCM2 Studentships are financially supported.

II. 3. Admissions Policies

We recommend that you carefully read the following guidelines as well as the guidelines on Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering at Hiroshima University:

II. 4. Get Started


WPI-SKCM2 offers graduate training in advanced experimental or theoretical disciplines in mathematics, physics, chemistry, condensed matter physics and/or chemistry, and molecular biology with an interdisciplinary focus on knots and chirality. Many specialization programs also offer the opportunity to choose a more focused study area. Please take a look at the programs offered to consider which program best suits your academic goals and which PIs can become the most suitable advisors.. If you have questions about your degree program of interest or you would like to receive more information about the research areas of PIs, you can contact us by email with the Subject line “Graduate Studies”.


Once you find which PI you would like to work with, find the specific program you need to apply to from the following list. For example, if you would like to choose Dr. Ivan I. Smalyukh, the director of the institute, you will apply to the Physics program in the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering at Hiroshima University.

Principal Investigator (PI)

NameAffiliation and titleSpecialization Name of the program to be applied
Ivan I. SmalyukhHiroshima University/University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Physics and Renewable Sustainable Energy Institute, Professor, SKCM2 DirectorTopological solitons, knot-ted matter, predesigned building blocks of matter, soft matter, biophysics, re-newable energy, self-assemblyPhysics
Katsuya InoueHiroshima University, Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, Chemistry, ProfessorExperimental material sci-ences, chemistry, and physicsChemistry
Shinichi TateHiroshima University, Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, Mathematical and Life Sciences, ProfessorBiophysics math, applied mathMathematical and Life Sciences
Takeharu HainoHiroshima University, Graduate School of Ad-vanced Science and En-gineering, Chemistry, ProfessorChiral supramolecular chemistryChemistry
Kenta ShigakiHiroshima University, Graduate School of Ad-vanced Science and En-gineering, Physical Sci-ence, ProfessorHigh energy nuclear phys-ics
Hikaru YabutaHiroshima University, Graduate School of Ad-vanced Science and En-gineering, Earth and Planetary System Sci-ence, ProfessorCosmochemistry, geo-chemisryEarth and Planetary Systems Science
Kenta KurodaHiroshima University, Graduate School of Ad-vanced Science and En-gineering, Physical Sci-ence, Associate ProfessorSolid state physics, mo-mentum-space topology in quantum matterPhysics
Yuka KotoriiHiroshima University, Graduate School of Ad-vanced Science and En-gineering, Mathematics, Associate Professor/ RIKEN, Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathe-matical Sciences Pro-gram, Visiting ScientistMathematics (topology, knot theory)Mathematics
Andrey LeonovHiroshima University, Graduate School of Ad-vanced Science and En-gineering, Chemistry, Associate ProfessorCondensed matter theory, skyrmionicsChemistry
Hiroshi SatoRIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Sci-ence, Emergent Molecu-lar Assembly Research Unit, Cross-Divisional Materials Research Pro-gram, Unit LeaderChemistry, material scienceChemistry via. Katsuya Inoue
Tamas KalmanTokyo Institute of Tech-nology, Department of Mathematics, Associate ProfessorLow-dimensional topology, combinatoricsMathematics via. Yuka Kotorii
Chihiro SasakiUniversity of Wroclaw, Institute of Theoretical Physics, ProfessorHigh-energy particle and nuclear physics (theory)Physics via. Kenta Shi-gaki
Shang-Te Danny HsuAcademia Sinica, Insti-tute of Biological Chem-istry, Associate Research FellowBiophysical chemistry, structural biology, knotted proteins, COVID-19Mathematical and Life Sciences via. Shinichi Tate
Claire DonnellyMax Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry of Solids, Lise Meitner Group Leader3D topology in magnets, nanoscale imagingPhysics via. Kenta Ku-roda
Bohdan SenyukUniversity of Colorado Boulder, Department of Physics, Senior Research AssociateSoft matter, physics of liq-uid crystals, optical mi-croscopyPhysics via. Kenta Ku-roda
Marjolein DijkstraUtrecht University, Fac-ulty of Science, Debye Institute for Nano-materials Science, Pro-fessorCondensed matter theory, topologyChemistry via. Katsuya Inoue
Silvia VignoliniUniversity of Cambridge, Department of Chemis-try, ProfessorChiral bio-materials, self-assemblyMathematical and Life Sciences via. Shinichi Tate
Elisabetta MatsumotoGeorgia Institute of Technology, School of Physics, Assistant Pro-fessorGeometry and topology of soft matterPhysics via. Kenta Ku-roda
Jörn DunkelMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Depart-ment of Mathematics, Associate ProfessorApplied math, topologyMathematics via. Yuka Kotorii


NameAffiliation and titleSpecializationName of program to be examined
Masakazu TeragaitoHiroshima University, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor3-manifold, knot, ordering
Yuya KodaHiroshima University, Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, Mathematics, ProfessorLow-dimensional topology, 3-manifolds, 4-manifolds, knots, mapping class groupsMathematics
Akio KimuraHiroshima University, Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, Physical Science, ProfessorLow dimensionality, spin-orbit interaction, ferromagnetic compounds, spin-resolved electron spectroscopy, spin- and angle- resolved photoemission, orbital moment, magnetic thin films, nanomaterials, magnetic circular dichroismPhysics
Yuta NozakiHiroshima University, Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, Mathematics, Assistant ProfessorLow-dimensional topologyMathematics
Mykola TasinkevychPhysics, University of Lisbon, Portugal, ProfessorNumerical modeling of active matter, topology of colloidal knots and linksMathematics via. Yuka Kotorii
Yair ShokefMechanical Engineering and Physics, Tel Aviv University, Israel, ProfessorMechanical properties of pre-designed material systems, spin ice, topological frustrationPhysics via. Kenta Kuroda
Muneto NittaKeio University, Faculty of Business and Commerce, ProfessorHigh energy physics, field theory, string theory, in particular topological solitons, nonlinear sigma modelsPhysics via. Kenta Shigaki
Chiho NonakaHiroshima University, Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, ProfessorNuclear physics and hadron physicsPhysics


Application deadlines are usually the same for each year and are noted on the program page. The degree program at WPI-SKCM2 is full-time.
・The deadline of application for enrollment in October 2023 is May 19, 2023.


If you are interested in applying for a place at the WPI-SKCM2, please visit the  admission information page from here. You will find a list of documents you need to submit, so please read the guidelines carefully.

Application for Financial Aid

WPI affiliated students will be employed as Research Assistants (RA) and will be paid 2,000,000 yen/year (Doctoral students, after passing a PhD-qualifying exam) and 1,000,000 yen/year (Master’s students, before passing the PhD-qualifying exam). Students successfully passing qualifying exams and engaging in productive research may receive additional support.

II. 5. After Applying

After you submit your application, it is forwarded to the program admissions committee for review. Applicants are notified by email about the successful submission of the application. After this, the applicants will be contacted only in case of selection to be admitted to the program.

Accommodations for applicants impacted by extenuating circumstances

We realize that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, recent natural disasters, and other extenuating circumstances may have impacted applicants’ academic and personal lives.

If any of these conditions apply to you, we encourage you to contact us for any accommodation that can be made for you to successfully apply.

During the application process, you and others, such as recommenders, may provide the WPI-SKCM2 with certain kinds of personal data about you that may be regarded as sensitive personal information. By submitting an application, you consent to WPI-SKCM2 processing of personal data about you in order to evaluate your application for admission and your eligibility for financial aid, if applicable.

Tuition and Fees

Graduate students in WPI-SKCM2 will simultaneously be affiliated with the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering (PI or co-PI advisor in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, and Space Sciences) or the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life (Life Sciences PI or co-PI advisor). The curriculum is to obtain lecture credits as a minor program in the curriculum offered by those graduate schools. Enrollment and tuition fees are as follows;

A: Enrollment fee: 282,000 JPY

B: Tuition (per year): 535,800 JPY

Provided that a student is in good standing, SKCM2 covers a stipend sufficient to cover living and educational expenses.

2022–2023 Estimated Living Expenses Budget

One academic term
(6 months)
Full academic year
(12 months)
With spouse or partner$5,000-8,000$8,000-12,000
With spouse or partner and one child$8,000-13,000$13,000-16,000
Additional child$2,000-3,000$4,000-6,000

*6,000 USD = 840,000 yen

Rescinding Admissions

By accepting the offer of admission, students join a community ideally characterized by free expression, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change..

If an admitted candidate for admission has made misleading, incomplete, or inaccurate statements, submitted false material in connection with the application, or has been found to have engaged in academic or personal conduct that is inconsistent with the preceding paragraph, SKCM2 will take appropriate action, which could include rescinding an offer of admission or revoking a degree. Newly admitted candidates are expected to inform the Office of Admissions of any past or present conduct that is inconsistent with these standards.

・If a misrepresentation is discovered after a student has registered, the case will be reviewed by the SKCM2 Graduate Administrative Committee, who will determine the action to be taken.

・ If the discovery occurs after a degree has been awarded, the case will be reviewed by the SKCM2 Graduate Administrative Committee who will determine the action to be taken, and the degree may be rescinded.


For information on World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), please visit the following website.
World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI)
Project plans of WPI-SKCM2


Hiroshima University WPI-SKCM2 Office
Address: 2F, Administration Bureau, 1-3-2, Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima, 739-8511, Japan