In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Sumio Sakka


Sumio Sakka, Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University, passed away on November 13, 2023, suddenly at the age of 92.

Right after earning his bachelor’s degree from Kyoto University (Department of Industrial Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering) in 1953, he served as Research Associate at Kyoto University (Institute for Chemical Research).  In 1963, he was awarded a Doctorate in Engineering from Kyoto University, and promoted to Associate Professor.  In 1972, he joined Mie University (Department of Industrial Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering) as Professor. He joined again Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, as Professor in 1983. He retired in 1994 due to reaching the retirement age, and was granted the title of Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University.  After retirement, he served as Visiting Professor at Fukui University of Technology until 2003.

Professor Sakka was a renowned expert in glass research and a pioneer of sol-gel method.  His research covered a wide range, including the analysis of the structure of inorganic glasses, the development of functional properties of inorganic glasses, and the low-temperature synthesis of functional inorganic materials using sol-gel method.  His numerous research accomplishments were published in over 300 research papers and more than 100 review articles in domestic and international journals. His influence extended to young researchers and graduate students involved in inorganic materials chemistry.

Internationally, Professor Sakka served as Regional Editor of Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids from 1981 to 1992, and founding Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology from 1992 to 2007.  He also chaired significant international conferences such as 6th Physics of Non-Crystalline Solids (1987), 4th International Workshop on Glass and Glass Ceramics from Gels (1987), and Japan-Russia-China International Seminar on the Structure and Formation of Glasses (1991), making substantial contributions to the academic community.

His achievements were recognised both domestically and internationally, receiving awards such as Awards for Young Scientists (1965) and for Academic Achievements (1979), the title of Honorary Member (2006), and Ceramics Grand Prize (2019) from the Ceramic Society of Japan, CSJ Award (1988) from the Chemical Society of Japan, Fellow Status (1983) and G.W. Morey Award (1984) from the American Ceramic Society, Life Achievement Award (2007) from International Sol-Gel Society, and President’s Award (2013) from International Commission on Glass.  He received Medal with Purple Ribbon (1996) and the Order of the Sacred Treasure (2003) from Japan.

Known for his modest personality, Professor Sakka never failed to insert a short joke into conversations, bringing smiles to both himself and others throughout his life.  Even after retirement, he actively participated in events organised by Japanese Sol-Gel Society, eagerly taking notes. He also enthusiastically participated in alumni reunions, dormitory song festivals, and book clubs, and also cultivated an appreciation for classical music, especially Italian opera. He continued to be actively involved in these events until 2023, a year when the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be subsiding. He was invited to submit the following three papers in Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, all of which are published in the same year, 2022.

  • S. Sakka, “History of ferroelectric materials prepared by sol-gel method,” J Sol-Gel Sci Technol, 101, 140-175 (2022).
  • S. Sakka, “Birth of the sol-gel method: early history,” J Sol-Gel Sci Technol, 102, 478-481 (2022).
  • S. Sakka, “Foundation of the Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology,” J Sol-Gel Sci Technol, published online: Oct 17, 2022.

His sudden passing amidst such circumstances has undoubtedly left those who knew him, both domestically and internationally, in shock and mourning.


Hiromitsu Kozuka, Kazuki Nakanishi and Masahide Takahashi