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Asian Engineers / アジアの技術者たち

posted Oct 2, 2016, 7:37 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 4:40 PM ]

Whether it is academia or business matter, international exchange has great significance for young researchers and technical experts who bear the future.  Therefore, if you have any chance to visit foreign countries, please take a chance to challenge for your future.  I believe it will be your valuable experience.While I used to work for the former private company, I was in charge of technological development of the optical head for DVD at the company. In summer, 2007 (which was the follwing year of the product commercializing), the company planned to move the overseas base to a subsidiary company in China. Because of my experience I was assigned for overseas posting in Hong Kong and China for 3 years.

 After the Plaza Accord (the 1985 agreement of the G5 nations), the value of the yen had soared.  Many of Japanese factories were forced to relocate production overseas. Since products such as optical head required manpower for assembly process, due to a wage differential, we established a business framework (domestic technological development and overseas manufacturing).  The movie “Ah!the  Nomugi toge (1979)” though a  little bit old, (that is old Japanese story of the silk industry and the young girls who worked hard as silk spinners in a hot factory.)  We had many factories manufacturing domestically, however, most of them were closed and demolished to vacant lots.  This is just a changes of the times passing an era. Our next generation will have demands to reconsider about the future state of  Japanese company and the manufacturing industry.  We need to find an appropriate business field in Japan and hand it over to a new generation.  One of the solutions might be to develop the high value-added products with fine processing technology and the most advanced IT technological products which is the fusion of hardware/software.

 When I was working at a manufacturing factory in China, thousands of young work women in their teens and twenties lived in a dormitory in the factory site. They manufactured a new product, one after another with three shifts including midnight shift. They had a dance party every weekend, and enjoyed their work and life.  It looked hard circumstances for young girls to leave their parental home at an early age. To go home only on long holidays due to long distance and when sending most of their salary to parents.  However they were always neatly dressed and enjoyed their work and life at the factory locations.  Maybe their salary were enough to them. We were firmly resolved to develop and provide a new product continuously so that those young work women would not lose their job and their employment will be assured.

 The team I belonged to consisted of 100 and more of work women and 10 male staff members.  The ratio of Chinese and Hong Konger was 4 : 1,  the language was all English. (we could not follow in case they speak Chinese or Cantonese language.) Similarly, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, women did the same work among men. All worked through the night. I think Japan has gotten closer to this, but still very few female students study at Mechanical Engineering or Civil Engineering. For translation purpose, those who can speak Japanese are invaluable and helpful to us.  However, if we rely on too much on them, we might lose a chance of our own thinking and experiencing.  Therefore, “everything in moderation” is the key word, when asking others for help.

 In Hong Kong and Shenzhen, I had an opportunity of visiting an exhibition of electronic equipment.  The difference from CEATEC, Japan was that many small companies participated in an exhibition with a small booth.  Not like a situation where very successful big companies had great power, but all exhibition companies were equally challenging for the market.  I felt a great vital power for the future. In Taiwan, many companies started up businesses of semiconductor manufacturing, introducing used equipment.  I encountered a situation when the company looking for a purchasing company(in a good way) was negotiating M&A (merger and acquisition ) with a subsidiary company of my overseas posting. With more venture companies and investment companies, I am sure that there must be more chances for the nation to promote M&A (merger and acquisition) compared to Japan.

 Generally speaking, Chinese, including the above mentioned workers and staffs, are so friendly to Japanese. I was concerned about rising anti-Japanese sentiment when I heard that Chinese are taught so in a text book in China, however, it is only a matter of politics. Actually Chinese people, being eager to learn techniques and information from Japan, they try to contact with us to establish good relationship.I am sure that if we become friends, we will easily have interesting discussions about current educational status’. Actually I am so sorry that I could not have so many opportunities to communicate with local Chinese people, since I had several Japanese colleagues in the same team.  However, I made an opportunity to have dinner with local staffs once a week.  Therefore I think I could fully  understand how they like Japan and Japanese technology.

 I was relocated to overseas, aiming to market development of optical head, however, the situation was difficult due to the subprime mortgage crisis, the economic downturn precipitated by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008, and the wave of cruel depression we had ever experienced.  In Japan also, we experienced hard times.  Some companies terminated contracts with temporary employees, whereas they could not dismiss permanent workers without good reason.Since our team failed in customer development, as company policy, not only factory workers、we were forced to dismiss one in four local staff.  Instead of advance notification, the target person was handed one envelop at the final day of the month.  I heard that the envelop include a letter of contract termination, a statement of accounts, and job recruitment information.  As you know foreign capital companies are very dry (business-like).  One of my subordinates (technical man) was forced to receive the envelop without notice.  I was intensely sad about his leaving, since he was working so hard with us from the beginning of the business.However, I am so relieved to hear that he overcame his hardship and set up his own trading company which deals with technical related products and doing well. We made vigorous efforts on the optical head business, however, we could not achieve the target earnings and we suspended the business in 2010. The member dissolved, and I returned to Japan and went back to research field.  We already decided that we would develop a new theme since our application had already been approved.  The optical head was not in much demand but we promised the  local staff and members to develop a new product and they would come back. 

 After that, the theme was suspended due to company’s change of policy, however, the reason of my continuously exerting myself is to realize our promise.Japanese technology, as it used to be, should become the world’s leading technology, competing with Western countries and aiming to develop new industry.  When I meet people in different countries on my business I strongly resolved to do so.  That is because I inherited the DNA from my ancestors since I was borne in a corner of Asia.

October 3rd, 2016
Dr. Giichi Shibuya
Research Associate
Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering,
Graduate School of Engineering,
Osaka University









澁谷 義一 博士研究員 

Self-Introduction / ごあいさつ

posted Aug 22, 2016, 12:00 AM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Aug 22, 2016, 12:03 AM ]

My name is Kazuto Yamauchi and I am a new member at the Photonics Center. “Light” for me is X-rays and, therefore, I would like to describe some of the developments in X-ray optics while telling you a little about myself.
X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Röntgen. In 1912, less than twenty years later, Max von Laue discovered the diffraction of X-rays by zinc sulfide crystals, and the following year William H. and William L. Bragg, father and son, presented Bragg’s law. These brilliant achievements gave us light that enabled humans to see atoms, the greatest beneficiary of which is the field of crystal structure analysis. A hundred years later, the U.N. General Assembly proclaimed 2014 to be the International Year of Crystallography, showing just how much X-rays have contributed to crystallography. In the meantime, optics and crystallography have grown immensely, through mutual stimulation, and have dramatically improved the performance of light sources. Higher throughput has been the greatest need for crystal structure analysis, and particularly for the structural analysis of proteins. X-rays in the form of synchrotron radiation sources have shown rapid advancements in brilliance since around 1990. As a result, X-rays acquired the byproduct spatial coherence, which had not been particularly needed for crystal structure analysis, and a new discipline called coherent X-ray optics was born at synchrotron radiation facilities such as SPring-8. While it is somewhat misleading to say, their function as a tool for viewing matter may have brought X-rays back to the forefront of science.
I was a newcomer to the field at this time, working to develop mirrors based on precision machining and metrology for preserving coherence in the light source. We became the first in the world to successfully achieve diffraction-limited focusing and imaging. We also developed a technique for measuring wavefronts based on wave optics and an adaptive optical system for correcting deformations in the wavefronts, and achieved X-ray scanning microscopy with a sub-10 nm spatial resolution and coherent diffraction microscopy approaching a spatial resolution of 1 nm. I take great pride in having contributed in some small way to the advancement of X-ray microscopy based on synchrotron radiation.
Now, synchrotron X-rays have been successfully developed into an X-ray free-electron laser. X-ray FEL facilities are currently installed at two locations: the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in America and the Riken Harima Branch in Japan. These ultrashort pulse lasers produce wavelengths covering the hard X-ray region, with a pulse duration of femtoseconds. The peak intensity of the beam approaches 10 billion times that of SPring-8. It is a dream light source that is in the process of developing entirely new X-ray sciences. The X-ray mirrors fabricated with our method are called Osaka Mirrors and have been installed at both facilities in the U.S. and Japan. A venture company financed by Osaka University Venture Capital (OUVC) ships the mirrors worldwide, and advanced development of the mirrors is now undertaken by postdoctoral researchers.
Recently we succeeded in observing two-photon absorption with Japan’s X-ray FEL SACLA, using a beam focused down to 50 nm. K emissions were observed when exciting germanium with 5.6-keV X-rays. The intensity of the K fluorescence was essentially proportional to the square of the exciting X-ray intensity. Energy of 11.1 keV was necessary for exciting the Ge K-shell, and there was no intermediate state for two-stage excitation. In fact, the two 5.6 keV photons were absorbed simultaneously with no intermediate state, transferring 11.1 keV of energy to the K-shell electron. The second photon acts within a few hundred zeptoseconds from the first, before the ripples of the first photon have even subsided. This is the first observation of its kind in the X-ray region.
I have continued research on coherent X-ray optics and have been involved in the development of various X-ray devices. However, everything I have done to this point academically has been in optics rather than photonics. If it were not for X-ray FEL making nonlinear optics experiments possible in the X-ray region, I would have been hesitant to join the Photonics Center. This is an exciting area with boundless potential.
As a new member, I hope to contribute to research in photonics in the X-ray region, as well as in surface generation and the like for photonic materials using my specialty of precision machining. But I will cut my self-introduction off here before this gets too lengthy.

August 22, 2016
Kazuto Yamauchi, Professor
Division of Precision Science and Technology and Applied Physics
Graduate School of Engineering
Osaka University

山内 和人  教授

The Advancement of Science and the Cost to Society / 科学の発展と社会のコスト

posted May 12, 2016, 9:20 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated May 12, 2016, 9:33 PM ]

The other day, I was astonished to read the top news headline on Yahoo! Japan: “A Drug that Will Destroy the Country”. This headline was linked to an article run by the S Newspaper. Thinking that the possibility of just one drug alone causing the downfall of an entire country was extraordinary, I read the article with curiosity. The drug discussed in the article was not a narcotic or stimulant, but rather an anti-cancer drug called O that in recent years has been newly introduced to the Japanese pharmaceutical market by Company O. O is a revolutionary drug with the unprecedented anti-cancer action mechanism of killing cancer by enhancing immune system functioning. Previously existing anti-cancer drugs have targeted cancer cells directly, but they can also attack healthy cells and have many side-effects. In contrast, O acts on immune functioning and has few side-effects and could potentially be effective against a range of cancers; thus, it is generating tremendous expectations as a cancer therapy. A point that we researchers in academia should focus on in particular is that the development of O is based on the research of Prof. Dr. Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University and is a university-developed pharmaceutical. How can such a wonderful drug “destroy” a country? The answer is that the dug is incredibly expensive. Although the cost apparently depends on the number of times it is administered, O costs 35 million yen per patient per year. The article described how this fact became an issue in a Ministry of Finance meeting. If one half of the more than 100,000 non-small cell lung cancer patients who are eligible for treatment with O (50,000) were treated with O, the annual cost would be 1.75 trillion yen, and even with the government partially covering that amount, the cost could run into several hundreds of billions of yen. At this Ministry of Finance meeting, there was a debate over whether or not this cost burden had the potential to bankrupt national finances, and it was apparently proposed at the time that restrictions be placed on use of the drug for patients aged 75 years or older in order to avoid national bankruptcy. While it is impossible to ignore the financial reality, surely emotionally this is a truly pitiful story. Although it is not my intention to criticize debates such as this, what especially shocked me when I read the article was the problem of the cost involved when something new is developed through academic research. Unlike ordinary industrial goods, it is possible to commercialize and reap profits for pharmaceuticals—even when the cost is enormously high—because drug development not only received government assistance but is also an issue that involves human lives. Consequently, the tendency towards ignoring the extent of costs is likely to strengthen. This situation is not limited to O, and with the advancement of research, the number of diseases that will be able to be cured will increase more and more, while at the same time, the financial burden on society will also continue to steadily increase. This poses an unspeakable dilemma in which the lives of many people are saved but society as a whole comes under financial constraints. As scientists, it is only natural that we should think about how to create things that are effective yet inexpensive. However, when speaking specifically about pharmaceuticals, this could be an especially high hurdle to overcome. Thinking carefully about these issues, I remembered something—I personally have had the experience of developing a product jointly with a company up to a point just before commercialization only to have the project ultimately rejected because the production costs were too high. Unlike companies, in academia it is often the case that research and development is undertaken without taking into account the eventual costs from the very beginning. This is because in academia, what come first are establishing the principles of the developed drug (invention) and publishing academic papers. In particular, research that focuses only on lowering production costs does not produce academic papers with great impact in many cases. However, it goes without saying that carrying out research that can be practically applied to society should truly be recognized and praised. Reading this article reminded me, partly as self-admonition, to keep this point in mind as I carry out my research activities.

May 13th, 2016
Yuichiro Hori, Associate Professor
Division of Advanced Science and Biotechnology
Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University

堀 雄一郎  准教授

Research on Magnetic Computers / 磁性コンピュータの研究

posted Apr 11, 2016, 10:41 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Apr 11, 2016, 10:47 PM ]

Most functions in the computers that we use in our daily lives are implemented with semiconductor devices. If we could replace these semiconductor devices with magnetic devices, we could build a computer that is highly resistant to radiation and that uses very little energy, requiring no power to preserve information. While such a computer may or may not be feasible, our lab was presented with the opportunity to conduct research on magnetic computers.

I believe it was in the year 2001. A former professor had just returned from a business trip overseas and informed us that they were studying the use of magnets in logical operations there. However, magnetic bodies was not this professor’s specialty, and it was apparent that he understood little of the research and could offer no further information than the two keywords “magnets” and “operations.” There were a few ideas at that time, albeit few, for using tiny magnetic bodies and magnetic wires to perform computations. However, I had drawn no connections between the two since these devices had a long way to go before being useful for calculations. At some point, it struck me that we may be able to perform computations with small magnets if we packed several of them close together. The outcome may have been different had we first studied the existing research.

Two magnets repel each other when their north poles or south poles are brought close together because the system is in a high-energy state due to the magnetic fields produced by both magnets. Consequently, the system attempts to lower this energy state by moving the magnets away from each other. If the north pole of one magnet is brought close to the south pole of the other, the energy of the system drops as the two poles near each other, causing the magnets to stick together. When a tiny magnetic body is formed on a silicon substrate, on the other hand, the system lowers energy by reversing the orientation of the magnet’s north and south poles, i.e., the direction of magnetization, since the magnet itself cannot move. This means that a certain action will lead to a certain result, which could be construed as a logical operation.

Initially we decided to apply for a patent on this concept in March 2002 (unexamined patent application No. 2003-280892). At that time, we had focused only on the concept of using magnetic bodies for logical operations and, looking back, the shape and system of these devices are now considerably different. We strayed from this research for a while after that, but in 2003 we had a visiting postdoctoral fellow from Bangladesh, named Anis, explore some structures for devices through micro magnetic simulations. Anis specialized in computer science and had no specific knowledge of magnetic bodies. Perhaps for the very reason of not being constrained by common knowledge of magnetic bodies, he referenced papers on logical operations using electric fields and conducted simulations on magnetic elements with similar structures. It may have been just good fortune, but after about a half year he discovered a system for implementing logical operations with magnetic elements. When four magnetic bodies are arranged in close proximity to each other and data is inputted into three of the bodies, the direction of magnetization in the remaining magnetic body indicates the result of the operation and, thus, the output of the system. This configuration was shown to perform logical NAND and NOR operations (S.A. Haque, M. Yamamoto, R. Nakatani, and Y. Endo, J. Magn.& Magn. Mater., 282, 380-384 [2004]).

These findings have led to the current research, which has progressed from simple logical operations to elements that transmit data to each other and elements that divert data. Thus, there is promise for building a magnetic computer by connecting these elements together (H. Nomura, M. Yamamoto and R. Nakatani, Appl. Phys. Exp., 4, 013004 [2001]).

The magnetic logic gates mentioned above possess an extremely strong resistance to radiation and use no power to preserve data, which should allow them to operate under the extreme conditions in space and around nuclear reactors, for example, environments for which semiconductor devices are unsuitable. So what is the point? Looking further into the future, the environment on earth will one day become inhabitable for humans. Like in the plot of a science fiction story, humans may have to resettle in another planetary system. However, the effects of radiation in space described above are actually much stronger than people think. It is unlikely that living organisms would be able to tolerate it. It has been suggested that zygotes could survive in such an environment, perhaps shielded by water.

At birth, humans have a very immature form and require a lengthy development period. Conversely, this lengthy development period is necessary for the growth of human intelligence. Even if the zygotes were incubated in space, they must be educated in order to be raised as intelligent beings. Some people have envisioned robots to fill the role of educators. Naturally, the robots could not be dependent on semiconductor devices since semiconductors are vulnerable to cosmic rays. The robots would need to possess a brain that functions using magnetic logic gates. While this may appear to be an extreme fantasy—we would need to launch numerous spacecraft controlled by magnetic computers with the hope that one lucky spacecraft would discover a star system in which humankind could survive, and would have to incubate cryopreserved zygotes that would then be educated by robots once they become young humans—this may be the only solution for the survival of humankind. Of course all of this ignores the significance of going to these length to sustain the existence of humankind.

April 12, 2016
Ryoichi Nakatani, Professor
Division of Materials and Manufacturing Science
Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University




 とりあえず、この概念を2002年3月に特許として出願しました[特開2003-280892]。今から考えると、概念だけ考えたわけですから、形状、システムは今とはかなり違います。しばらく、その研究は放置していましたが、2003年にAnisというバングラデシュからきたポスドクにマイクロマグネティクス・シミュレーションを使って、素子としての構造を模索してもらうことにしました。彼は、コンピュータサイエンスが専門で、磁性体は非専門です。磁性体の常識にはとらわれませんから、電場によって演算する論文を見つけてきて、似たような構成の磁性体素子についてシミュレーションを行いました。幸運だったのかもしれませんが、半年くらいで演算する系が見つかります。4個の磁性体を近接し、情報を3個の磁性体に入れておくと、残りの1個の磁性体の磁化の向きが演算結果となり出力されそうです。その演算はNANDおよびNORの論理演算でした[S. A. Haque, M. Yamamoto, R. Nakatani and Y. Endo, J. Magn. & Magn. Mater., 282, 380-384 (2004)]。
 現在では、そこから始まった研究は、論理演算だけではなく、情報を素子間で伝搬したり、情報を分岐する素子にも発展しています。これらを接続すればコンピュータができあがりそうです[H. Nomura and R. Nakatani, Appl. Phys. Exp., 4, 013004 (2011)]。




"Thoughts on "The 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan"" / 『科学技術基本計画と「わたし」』

posted Mar 13, 2016, 9:23 PM by 田中千秋   [ updated Mar 13, 2016, 9:39 PM ]

 April 2016 marks the beginning of the fifth installment of the Science and Technology Basic Plan — a government-established, systematic and coherent basic plan for executing long-term science and technology policy that was developed in the Science and Technology Basic Act in 1995. I am embarrassed to say that I did not know of the plan until I heard it in a seminar about a month ago, but the new plan—which is based on the results and challenges of the 20-year period for Plans 1 through 4 and reflects the current global, social, and economic situation— will unquestionably impact the entire breadth of science and technology, both in academia and industry.

The Basic Plan states Japan’s Vision for the future to become a country that: shows sustainable growth, both as a nation and in local communities ; provides a safe, affluent and high quality of life for citizens; can contribute to solving global problems and promoting global development; and consistently creates innovation. To achieve the vision, the plan promotes: value creation initiatives for future industry creation and social transformation; responses to economic and social problems; investment in basic research ; and development of human resources, intellectual property, and a desirable funding cycle. Universities are called to play a crucial role in increasing the level of basic research, with challenging targets being established, including a 10% share in the top 10% of most cited papers, a 50% increase in joint research funds from companies, and a 50% increase in the number of licensed patents, while achieving growth in the number of young faculty, growth in the number of female faculty, and growth in the total volume of published papers.

Although I always nod with appreciation at such talk, in the back of my mind I also wonder, “Specifically, what do we have to do?” Having heard the Basic Plan, do I, for example, need to change my approach in the research lab or the way I interact with students? It is not like I am procrastinating at the moment (at least I believe so), but in the case I need to change something, then what and how? I do not think this is a problem related to just science and technology-related policies, but because most national policies are formulated with a long-term perspective, the plans are just overly grand and do not seem at all related to myself. I wish that the plan was detailed enough to include specific suggestions targeted at people working at the field level (e.g., young university faculty), so that the people affected by the policy can better see the problem as their own.

There is no way for me to know what the people who developed the Basic Plan were ultimately expecting, but if there was something I could do toward achieving the goals set in the Basic Plan, it would be to make a small change to my research mindset. Regarding this, there is one phrase from a seminar I attended in 2014 that left a strong impression: “Do what is important, not what is interesting.” Stated by a science and technology investor, the words resonated in a very refreshing way. Researchers frequently pursue research that piques their interest, and this attitude is accepted without question, especially at universities. However, the above phrase is telling us that if we desire to truly contribute to society, we need to take on critical problems faced by the world and not problems that only we find interesting. Although it is easy to forget in the face of intense research competition, the fundamental purpose of engineering studies, after all, is to resolve problems facing society. It is always important to come back to the simple perspective of “doing research that benefits people”.

I must admit though, that my current research mindset is not exactly aligned with the words above. This comes from my conviction that a problem is important because it is difficult to solve. Usually, it takes more than a good idea – a breakthrough – to solve it. And where do breakthroughs come from? From interesting basic research. So, I think the most desirable approach is to engage in both kinds of research activities, with a slightly higher priority in solving the important problems: i.e., “do what is important, and what is interesting”. I think universities are a great workplace in that the faculty can direct his/her research at his/her own discretion (in most cases). With an organization like PARC, researchers in academia can exchange information and ideas with researchers in industry on important problems and cutting-edge technologies. For a researcher, what more could you ask for, if research, driven by your own intellectual interest, could solve one of world’s most important problems?  

March 14th, 2016
Hiroyuki Yoshida
Assisstant Professor
Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering,
Graduate School of Engineering,
Osaka University


基本計画を全て理解したわけではありませんが、計画では「目指すべき国の姿」として「持続的な成長と地域社会の自律的な発展」、「国及び国民の安全・安心の確保と豊かで質の高い生活の実現 」、「地球規模課題への対応と世界の発展への貢献 」と「知の資産の持続的創出 」を掲げ、その実現のために「未来の産業創造と社会変革に向けた新たな価値創出の取組 」、「経済・社会的課題への対応 」、「基盤的な力の強化」、そして「人材、知、資金の好循環システムの構築」を推進することを述べています。大学が特に関係するのは「基盤的な力の強化」で、若手教員、女性教員の拡充の他、総論文数を増やしつつ、総論文数に占める被引用回数トップ10%の論文の割合が10%となることを目指す、企業からの共同研究受入額の50%増加を目指す、特許実施許諾件数の50%増加を目指すなど、挑戦的な目標設定がなされています。


基本計画を策定した方が何を想定されているかは結局、分からないのですが、科学技術基本計画の実現に向けて自分が何かできるとすれば、研究に対するマインドセットを少し変えることかな、と考えています。これについては2014年に受講した研修で聞いた、次の言葉が強く印象に残っています。"Do what is important, not what is interesting"-この言葉は科学技術に投資する立場の方から聞いたのですが、自分には極めて新鮮にヒットしました。研究者は自分の興味に突き動かされて研究を進める場合が多いと思いますし、特に大学においてはそれが正しい姿のように思えます。ただ、世の中に本当に貢献したいのであれば、自分が興味のある問題にでなく、世の中が抱える重要な問題に挑みなさい、と上の言葉は言っています。近年の加熱する研究競争で忘れがちではありますが、工学が本来、社会が抱える問題を解決することを目的とした学問であることを考えると、人の役に立つことを研究する、というシンプルな視点は非常に重要だな、と思います。

と、このようなことを書きながら、今の私の研究に対するマインドセットは実は、上の言葉そのままではありません。問題がImportantなのはそれが難しいからであり、その解決には今まで人が思いつかなかったアイディアが必要となると思うからです。解決する糸口がどこにあるかというと、それはInterestingな基礎科学の先にあると私は思います。ですので、両者の優先順位はそのままで、両方に取り組むのが一番望ましいと考えています。つまり、"Do what is important, and what is interesting"。大学は非常に良い場所で、(いつもではありませんが)教員の裁量で、両方に取り組めます。研究者としては、自分の興味ある研究も思いっきり楽しみながら、それが重要な問題の解決策となれば冥利につきると思います。このような環境や、共に研究を進めてくれる学生の皆さんに感謝しつつ、これからの科学技術の発展のために頑張りたいと思います。

吉田 浩之 助教

Dreams of science and technology in 30 years' time / 30年後の科学技術の夢

posted Feb 14, 2016, 3:49 PM by 田中千秋   [ updated Feb 21, 2016, 11:05 PM by PARC Osaka University ]

The film Back to the Future Part 2, released in 1989, was a story in which the hero, who was living in the America of 1985, was transported 30 years into the future, to the year 2015. Stanley Kubrick's epoch-making 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey also depicted the world in around 30 years' time. Among film makers and science fiction writers, 30 years seems to be the ideal time span for depicting the progress of science and technology. Last year, television and magazine features compared the goods and technologies shown in Back to the Future with the actual technologies we now have at our disposal. The DeLorean automobile and time machine that is fueled by garbage has yet to appear in our daily lives, but photos and film footage of a DeLorean that actually was developed by a recycling company and a DVD production company, and runs on bioethanol made from old clothes, caused a stir. I was given the post of an assistant professor in the School of Engineering at Osaka University in 1986, and by a strange coincidence I reached my own thirtieth year of activities as part of the University teaching staff this year. 

When I compare the science and technology in the year I became an assistant professor with what we have nowadays, even allowing for the fact that these things have not suddenly appeared overnight, thus cushioning the shock, there is plenty that would have amazed me in 1986, such as smartphones, hybrid cars, the Internet and so on. Technologies centering on light have made extraordinary progress over the past three decades, and there are all sorts of products that were not available 30 years ago, including fiber optic cables, LCD televisions, digital videos and cameras, blue lasers, blue light-emitting diodes and many others. “The 21st century will be the century of light” was a catchword coined as far back as the 1970s, and the avenues of light were already opening up when I became an assistant professor in the 1980s. Involved in research using light, as an assistant professor I was an unswerving advocate of this catchword and used it frequently in application forms for budgets. However, with regard to feasibility at the time the idea of light was still a vague notion, and the fact that we are now surrounded in our daily lives by the devices I have listed above gives me a true sense that we live in a world where that catchphrase of the 1970s has become a reality. Fiber optic cables, CCDs and other light devices located where the naked eye cannot see are entities that are understood by those in the know, and without people such as these then I do not think the “century of light” I mentioned above would have come into existence in the way it has done today.

So, what do the next 30 years hold in store for us? Will the “century of light” become a more tangible, more visible concept? I do not know whether I will still be on the face of this Earth in 30 years' time, but I do know that I fully intend watching it evolve even further with my own two eyes.

February 15th, 2016

Prof. Susumu Kuwabata

Division of Applied Chemistry,

Graduate School of Engineering,

Osaka University





桑畑 進 教授



New Year's greetings / 新年のあいさつ

posted Jan 4, 2016, 4:12 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Feb 21, 2016, 6:23 PM ]

Happy New Year!

This year heralds the 10th year for the Photonics Advanced Research Center, a critical juncture for our organization. During this time we have striven to be an organization that creates industrial innovation in photonics while exploring new forms of industry-university collaboration and while engaging in many challenging initiatives. Our aggressive stance toward interdisciplinary integration is already churning out results in the form of commercialized devices and photonics venture companies. We believe our next step is to grow the Photonics Center into a global photonics center to which leading photonics companies will converge and to which we will attract the world’s brightest researchers and engineers.

The Photonics Center has also developed a platform for talent development through the promotion of international joint research programs with Asian research institutes in which graduate students and young researchers frequently visit from/to Japan. Our next desire is to form a research network between the world’s photonics research institutes and to deploy a global “brain circulation-type” talent development program as we pave the way on the photonics platform in a new academic area on a global scale.

also approached for our annual Photonics Day, which will be held on Wednesday afternoon, January 27. The slogan for this year is “Osaka University changes the world with light!” Dr. Eiichi Maruyama, an Advisory Committee member, will deliver the keynote, “Japan’s Science and Technology,” which will be followed by presentations on the Photonics Center’s past initiatives for innovation creation and future Center initiatives. We look forward to an active and enthusiastic discussion with all of you on the future of the Photonics Center.

We wish you all the best and look forward to serving in the new year.

January 5th, 2016

Yasushi Inouye, Executive Director of Photonics Center, Osaka University













フォトニクスセンター長 井上康志


Asian CORE Student Meeting 2015

posted Nov 20, 2015, 12:22 AM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Feb 21, 2016, 6:24 PM ]

I am Natsuo Taguchi, the president of OSA/SPIE Osaka University Student Chapter in this year.  We, Student Chapter annually hold an international student conference which is planned and organized by students.  For the past few years, we have invited many foreign students studying optics and photonics focusing from Asian countries and set up many opportunities to create international networks among the students.  Since different countries have different culture and histories, and people living there have very different thoughts, we  have realized how fresh and interesting it is to have discussions on the bases of a common keyword “Light”, with students from diversified backgrounds.


For this year, International Year of Light 2015, we, Student Chapter are honored to hold an international student meeting “Asian CORE Student Meeting 2015” during December 8-9.  We will invite around 50 students from China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore to create valuable students’ networks.  With a concept “how we should develop our careers in the future”, we will have fulfilling discussions through invited lecturers, panel discussions and group works etc.  It is always one of the significant interests for students to get competent jobs by optimizing their own personalities.  Moreover, career environments have been getting more international especially in Asia, and Japan is not the exception.  In such diversified and international environments, we are sure that it will be very meaning  opportunity for students to exchange their opinions regarding careers.  We will also have two invited lecturers, Prof. Toyohiko Yatagai, Utsunomiya University and President of SPIE; and Prof. Satoshi Kawata, Osaka University and my supervisor.  Because of their diverse experience and thoughts, we expect all attendees to be inspired for their future careers from their talks. We also plan to have oral and poster presentations for their research introduction.


Actually, Asian CORE Student Meeting 2015 is smaller in the budget, the number of attendees, and the number of days than the past conferences we had.  However, we have been working so hard for the preparation for more than a half year so that we hope all attendees will be able to  obtain satisfying results.  Now the preparation of this meeting has come to the final stage.  I would like to thank all the chapter staff and PARC staff for helping me to arrange this meeting, and Prof. Yatagai and Prof. Kawata for their warm supports and cooperation.


We will continuously do our best for the success of this conference.

Natsuo Taguchi, the president of OSA/SPIE Student Chapter, Osaka University

OSA/SPIE 大阪大学学生チャプターの今年度代表を務める田口です。本学生チャプターはここ数年、学生が企画・運営を行う国際会議を毎年開催しています。アジア諸国を中心として、様々な国で光学を学ぶ学生を日本に招待し、国際的な学生間ネットワーク構築の場を設けてきました。国が異なれば文化や歴史も異なり、そこで暮らす人間の考え方にも大いに違いがあります。そのような多様な背景を持つ学生が一堂に会し、「光」という共通キーワードを切り口にして意見交換することに、新鮮味と面白さを覚えてきました。


国際光年である今年も本チャプターは機会に恵まれ、国際学生会議 “Asian CORE Student Meeting 2015” を、128日と9日の2日間にかけて開催します。インド・シンガポール・台湾・中国・日本・マレーシアから約50人の学生を招待し、価値ある学生ネットワークの構築を目指します。今年は「キャリアをどのように今後の将来で築くべきか」というコンセプトのもとで、招待講演・パネルディスカッション・グループワークなどを通じて密度が濃い議論を行います。各々の個性を活かし満足のいく仕事に就くことは、どの時代およびどの国の学生おいても重要な関心事です。そして、今日のアジアにおけるキャリアの環境は年々国際化が進んでおり、日本もその例外ではありません。そのような環境の中で、キャリアに関する意見を様々な国の学生の間で交換することは、非常に有意義なものになると思っています。また、宇都宮大学の教授であり SPIE 現会長の谷田貝豊彦先生および私の指導教員である河田聡先生を、招待講演者としてお呼びしています。お二方が歩んでこられた幅広いご経験や考え方から、今後のキャリアへのヒントを参加者が得ることを期待しています。勿論、参加者による研究紹介も、口頭およびポスターの両方で行われます。


今回の学生会議は前年度と比べて、予算・参加人数・日数ともに小規模なものです。しかしその分、参加者全員がより多くのものを得ることができるよう、半年以上かけて準備してきました。その Asian CORE Student Meeting 2015 の準備も、いよいよ大詰めを迎えています。最後に、本学生会議の準備をサポートして下さった OSA/SPIE 大阪大学学生チャプターの皆さんおよび PARC 職員の方々、参加者の皆様、想像を超えるほどに多忙な中を縫って出席して下さる谷田貝先生、そして谷田貝先生を招待講演者として打診した瞬間に電話で直接依頼して下さった河田先生に、厚く御礼を申し上げます。本学生会議が参加者全員にとって最善なものとなるよう、尽力して参ります。どうぞよろしくお願い致します。

大阪大学 OSA/SPIE 学生チャプター代表

田口 夏生

Impressions on Life in the US – Dive into a Pro-Innovation Environment! /「米国生活で感じたこと」~イノベーションできる環境へ飛び込もう~

posted Oct 13, 2015, 10:02 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Feb 21, 2016, 6:25 PM ]

What I write here will deviate from the usual Photonics-related topics that have been addressed by my esteemed colleagues. With permission and with the hope that it will be beneficial especially to students, I have gathered my impressions below on life in the US and the differences with Japan.


I have lived in the US on two different occasions for a total of 10 years on both the East and West Coasts. My first occasion was as a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University for one year beginning in the October immediately following 9/11. The second occasion was when I was assigned to manage Sharp Labs of America ( in Washington State for nine years. In my first US stint, I was on my own and faced many challenges in arranging everything and getting established by myself, and by the time of my second stint in the US I had a growing family, which made things very enjoyable but also presented other challenges. Although I would be happy to relate my family-related adventures, here I would like to focus on the attitudes in the US toward research and development as well as present my take on why interesting technologies and business models originate in the US.


The one year at Columbia University was short but very sweet. Although I did have to share equipment with other researchers, I was able to spend as many hours of the day as I liked, from morning to evening, on experimentation. Although I was on a limited one-year program and therefore was not taking any classes, other international students who were studying toward a postgraduate degree had to take classes. Foreign students faced the difficult challenge of English tests, which they had to pass to earn their degree, no matter what outstanding research and development they were working on. I remember the sight of students studying desperately despite having a much better command of spoken English than I did. A Korean, with whom I became friends as we discussed experimental results, had quit his job, immigrated to the US with his family, and paid high tuition fees and lived off his savings as he pursued his postgraduate degree. It is no wonder such students study for their dear lives!

Another strong impression I received was that, despite all the international students from many different countries in all the labs, there were almost none from Japan. This was especially true of the school and research program (that I had enrolled in) covering mathematics, physics, and devices that had a high number of foreign students from Asia. After my time was up, I took the results of my research at Columbia back with me to Japan, basing the design and study of prototypes for a manufacturing device on those results.


Eventually the time came for my second stay in America. My initial assignment in North America was to investigate new device technologies and their supporting process technologies and bring them back to Japan. After some unanticipated developments, I ended up becoming the manager of Sharp Labs of America. Of the roughly 170 employees at Sharp Labs, a Sharp subsidiary, only six or seven employees were on assignment from Japan with the rest being locally hired researchers and engineers. The people at Sharp Labs, though hired locally, included not only US nationals, but naturalized US nationals, Dutch, English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Turkish, Italian, French and other nationalities. Even though there were a variety of cultures and backgrounds, they were a powerful driving force when they all meshed together. The hiring policy was to hire only experienced professionals; fresh graduates were not on the radar. Of course there were exceptions; an exceptional student deemed necessary for a project at Sharp Labs would be hired even if they had just come out of school. The hiring process includes resume screening, an interview with HR, and evaluations by multiple interviewers of the candidate’s technical background, presentation skills, and communication skills. I, too, had the valuable opportunity to conduct interviews.

It was at this time that I realized the significance of having a postgraduate degree as well as an inkling as to one reason why I saw so few international students from Japan at Columbia University. Although it is a fact that American society is a meritocracy, it is a hierarchical society even more so than in Japan. There is a large gap in lifetime earnings between those with a postgraduate degree and those who are not. Unfortunately in Japan, having a Master’s degree or PhD does not result in a sizable difference in lifetime earnings (with the exception of some people), although having a higher degree may win admiration. Although this may be a biased view, I feel that this is one factor in why there is such a small number of Japanese students in US universities. At the same time, having a postgraduate degree does not necessarily guarantee smooth sailing; it does not guarantee being hired and may even lead to being laid off. True story: Sharp Labs once received an employment application from an assistant professor but we rejected him.


Let us move on to another topic. New products, concepts, and business models seemingly all originate from the US. Apple has built a superb ecosystem and business model for its iPhone, which now has many users in Japan as well. Some people say that, as a piece of hardware, not only is the iPhone inferior to Japan-made or Korean (Samsung)-made smartphones, but that almost all of its parts are made in Japan, Korea, or China. Such people say Apple succeeded only because they  excelled at building the business model. However, their uncompromising obsession with design and the finished product, as well as the finish on the hardware, deserves a begrudging tip of the hat. Apple is famously known as having started as an idea in a garage, but I believe the pro-innovation environment was a significant enabler. Even today, the Bay Area where Apple grew up remains rife with entrepreneurs as well as venture capitalists and angel investors. Now there are venues for entrepreneurs to network, an example of which is Plug and Play Tech Center (, a platform already being leveraged by Japanese companies and universities. This platform is very open and is producing interesting ideas every day, as well as small companies based on those ideas. The public has even embraced The Apprentice, a TV program that was hosted by presidential hopeful Donald Trump in which he evaluated and invested in people with interesting ideas. Such opportunities are constantly evolving. Another evolution is crowdfunding, a mechanism still in its infancy in Japan, which raises 10 times, sometimes even 100 times, the amount of funding in the US compared with Japan.

Another positive aspect of US society is that there are many figurative dangling ropes for climbing out of the proverbial hole for people who have made a mistake but who just have that indomitable spirit. As mentioned above, people with higher degrees may become unemployed, but there are also many opportunities for a new job and new employment. The barriers to changing jobs seem low. If a job calls for a higher degree, there are many open doors to earn that degree. One’s social status (housewife or working professional), race, and age, has no bearing on their enrollment in US universities as students of all walks of life study to attain their goals. There may of course be several such students in Japanese universities, but they are likely few in number. Many companies no longer have pension plans which make it easier for workers to change jobs and companies to hire experienced professionals. Other factors for the low barriers in changing employment are that age and gender basically are not an issue and that information on income levels for occupation, region, and skills are essentially commonly known.


I may have painted a rosy picture of the US, but keep in mind there are negatives as well and aspects in which Japan is superior in a systematic way. What I can say is this: there is no substitute for experiencing the US on a first-hand basis. Even if it is for one week (but not on a guided tour), you will be able to get a taste of the openness of that country. If you have the confidence and the desire to test yourself, then I definitely recommend earning a degree at a US institution. If you are not interested in going overseas, at the minimum I recommend that you study English, which is absolutely necessary if you are to be competitive with your global peers.

Junichiro Nakayama
Vice President of Corporate R&D Division
Head of Advanced Technology Research Laboratories
SHARP Corporation



これまでに、米国には2度住んでいます。1回目は、ナインイレブン直後の10月から1年間、コロンビア大学に研究員-Visiting Staffとして、2回目は、ワシントン州にあるシャープアメリカン研究所(をマネージする立場で約9年間赴任しましたので、合計で10年、東海岸と西海岸の生活を経験しました。1回目の赴任では、生活の立ち上げをすべて一人でしただけに苦労をしましたし、2回目の赴任中には、家族が増えたこともあって、楽しいことだけではなく、色々と大変なこともありました。プライベートの話は、お会いさせていただいたときにでもゆっくりさせていただくこととし、ここでは、研究・開発に対する姿勢や、どうして面白い技術やビジネスモデルは、米国から生み出されるのかに関して、自分なりの解釈も加えて記します。








別の話をしましょう。新しい商品、コンセプト、ビジネスモデルはほとんどが米国発です。Apple社のiPhoneは、そのエコシステムの構築からビジネスモデルまで非常に素晴らしいものであり、日本でも多くのユーザーが居ます。iPhoneをハードウェアとして考えると、日本あるいは韓国のSmartphoneの方が優れているし、そもそもパーツのほとんどは、日本製、韓国製、中国製なので、彼らはビジネスモデルとしてうまく構築しただけだという人もいるかと思います。しかしながら」、そのデザインや最終製品に見る製品に対するこだわりに妥協はなく、ハードウエアとしてもトータルでの仕上がりでも残念ながら脱帽せざるを得ません。もともとは、アイデア勝負でガレージから出発したことは周知のことですが、それを生み出せる環境があったということが大きいと思います。Apple社が育ったBay Areaには今でも沢山の起業家があり、それを支えるベンチャーキャピタルやエンジェルと呼ばれる投資家たちがおり、さらに彼らの出会いを提供する場もあります。一例として、既に日本の企業や大学も利用しているPlug and Play Tech Center (を紹介しますが、非常にOpenで日々面白いアイデアとそれに基づく小さな会社が生み出されています。これだけにとどまらず、大統領選に出馬しようとしているトランプ氏が審査員を務め、面白いアイデアには出資するテレビ番組(The Apprentice)さえあります。これらの仕組みも日々更新されている状況です。また、日本でも最近使われるようになってきたクラウドファンディングですが、米国では日本の10倍、時には100倍もの資金が集まります。




シャープ株式会社 研究開発本部 先端技術研究所所長
中山 純一郎

We are going to hold The 6th "Super HIKARIJUKU" Kid's Photonics school / 第6回こども科学の教室 スーパー光塾を開催します

posted Sep 7, 2015, 7:58 PM by 田中千秋   [ updated Feb 21, 2016, 6:25 PM by PARC Osaka University ]

“Why do fireflies glow in the dark? ” “How can cameras record a moment as a photograph?” “Why is the rainbow colorful?” These questions that everyone must have wondered once about can be explained by the mysterious nature of light.

We are going to hold “Kid's Photonics School” -Super "HIKARI JUKU"- again on 23rd November this year and provide several easy scientific experiments or lectures with kids. We would like elementary school students to learn about “light” joyfully and feel familiar with science. This school is ordinary held by Photonics Center, the department of engineering and OSA/SPIE student chapter in Osaka University. Approximately 50 elementary school kids will be invited to this event every year and we focus a main theme on optics and provide several easy scientific experiments or lectures with kids.

It will be the sixth time for us to have it this year. This year, we would like elementary school students to see the unexpected sides of light through experiments, lectures, and exhibits. That is why we made “amazing light -the unexpected sides of light-” a theme for the Photonics Kid’s school. We are doing the best to prepare many exciting light experiments including PIKAPIKA: doodling with light (making twinkling paintings by a penlight on photos), Marble Big Light (expanding small paintings on a plastic sheet by using a marble as a lens) and more.

You will be able to apply for participation in this school until 20th October 2015. Please don’t miss it and let’s become a Doctor of Light!


You can see photos from the last year’s school on our Facebook page, here.


6th Kid's Photonics School” -Super "HIKARI JUKU"- Student President,







第6回子ども科学の教室 スーパー光塾 学生統括 伊藤健

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