Message archive

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

posted Apr 11, 2016, 10:41 PM by フォトニクスセンター eラーニング   [ 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 フォトニクスセンター eラーニング ]

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 フォトニクスセンター eラーニング   [ 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 フォトニクスセンター eラーニング   [ 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 フォトニクスセンター eラーニング   [ 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 フォトニクスセンター eラーニング ]

“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

Spectrometer Exhibit / 「分光器展」

posted Jul 27, 2015, 4:53 PM by 田中千秋   [ updated Feb 21, 2016, 6:26 PM by フォトニクスセンター eラーニング ]

The “Spectrometer Exhibit: Instruments that Separate Light into the Colors of the Rainbow” was held at the Osaka Science Museum. I was thrilled to visit the exhibit, due to the fact that they were presenting measuring instruments that I use on a daily basis. One of the displayed items that particularly caught my eye was a spectrometer used in the early 20th century. More than half of the spectrometer’s housing was formed of wood, and a photographic plate was used for recording the spectra. Today the photographic plate has been replaced by a CCD camera, and the rotating mechanism of the optical element is now controlled electrically. Despite this, the internal construction is not much different from modern apparatuses. In fact, the device even employed quartz for the internal prism and lenses, a clever solution that allows passage of ultraviolet light while enabling analysis of a broader range of light wavelengths. This spectroscope was displayed alongside emission spectra of the various chemical elements that were acquired at the time the spectroscope was in use. It was startling how vivid the spectra appeared on the photographic plates. As I gazed at the images, I began to speculate how the scientists using these apparatuses in those days must have felt catching a glimpse of a world no one else had seen. Another part of the exhibit I found of great interest in addition to the displays of equipment were images of fireworks against the backdrop of a night sky in which the light had been separated into its spectral components.
Viewing this exhibit took me back to the Super Light School (Science School for Kids) at the Photonics Center. I participated in the first ever installment of the school. The elementary kids who took part in the class and I built a spectroscope to observe familiar forms of light, such as sunlight and fluorescent light. I was nervous in the days leading up to the class because I don’t ordinarily have many opportunities to speak with elementary kids, so I used some close connections to get some advice from an elementary school teacher. When visiting the teacher’s school I was astonished at how small the desks and chairs in the classroom were, bringing up altogether different worries from a physical perspective. I had prepared vivid slides with colorful rainbow schemes to attract the kids’ attention, but the teacher advised me to be careful about using too much color as brilliant colors can make some kids feel ill, so I revised my presentation at the last minute. Thanks to the advice I received from numerous people, I was able to enjoy myself in the class, albeit still being somewhat nervous. The spectrum shown on this page was acquired with the spectrometer that we used in the Super Light School. While the spectrometer is formed of a simple construction of pieces cut from a CD and cardboard paper, we were able to observe common sunlight separated into a brilliant rainbow of colors.
While light is so common in our everyday lives, we don’t often have an opportunity to get to know the science of light. Through exhibitions, like this spectrometer exhibit, the Light School, and the activities performed by everyone at the Photonics Center, it is my hope that the science of light will become more accessible to everyone.
Jun Ando, post-doctoral research fellow, Osaka University

大阪市立科学館で「分光器展 ~光を虹色に分ける機器~」が開催されていました。日常的に使用している計測機器が紹介されるとあって、嬉しくなって見学に行ってきました。展示物の中で一際目をひかれたのは、20世紀前半に使用されていた分光器でした。筐体の半分以上は木製で、スペクトルの撮像には写真乾板が用いられていました。今では写真乾板はCCDカメラに置き換わり、光学素子の回転機構は電動制御になっています。それでも、内部の仕組みは現代の機器とほとんどかわりありません。むしろ、分析できる光の波長の幅を広げるため、内部のプリズムやレンズに、紫外光を透過しやすい石英を用いる工夫がなされているほどでした。この分光器が現役の時代に取得した、様々な元素の発光スペクトルも併せて展示されていました。写真乾板に映し出されたスペクトルの鮮明さには驚かされました。当時この機器を使って、これまで誰も見た事のない世界を垣間見ていたのだろうかと、想像を膨らませながら眺めていました。機器の展示の他にも、夜空に打ち上がる花火を、光の色毎に分けてスペクトルで表示する映像などもあり、興味深くながめていました。







博士研究員 安藤 潤

See things from a wider perspective to think deeper/視野を広げて,深く考える

posted Jun 7, 2015, 10:10 PM by 音野多映   [ updated Jun 7, 2015, 10:11 PM ]

The rainy season will come soon. 5 months have passed since I came to Osaka. In this period, I attended various events and activities related to science, and had chances to communicate with others working in different fields. These days were very exciting for me because I could think about how my work makes a social contribution, and the relationship to other’s work in different fields. Working in new place makes me realize the importance of widening my perspectives throughout exposures to different values again.
Now I’m working on fluorescence microscope. Fluorescence microscopy is one of the optical microscope. In microscopy, fluorescent materials are used to label the region which you want to observe in specimens. Since only fluorescence materials emit light by irradiation with a particular wavelength of light, it is possible to observe the only region labeled by the fluorescent materials. 
The above technique is also used in daily life. For example, when you go out, you turn off all electrical products in a room. Although recently most products have LED light indicator to show if it is on, you might miss or forget to turn off some of those many products.  In such case, first turn off the room light, and you can easily find which is on and emitting light. In this example, LED light indicator is used instead of fluorescent materials. Of course you can apply such technique for other situations.
Needless to add, thinking deeply is important for researchers and engineers. However, I think it is also significant to pause to think through the relationship with others in sometimes, because I felt there were hints/clues to think various ways for social contribution or new findings through this period.

The picture was taken with my cell phone. If I widen my perspectives, I would find more interesting things around me.  I have to keep studying and thinking to get some ideas through my life.

Yasunori Nawa, Kawata laboratory
 このように書くと,顕微鏡の為の技術と思われるかもしれませんが,似たようなことは普段の生活でも使われます.例えば出かけるとき,電気製品の電源をきるかと思います.最近では,各製品にLEDがついており,その光で通電しているかどうか知らせてくれるものが多いですが,製品の数が増えてくると,うっかり見落とす事があるかもしれません.そんな時は部屋の電気をまず消します.すると,暗がりの中から消し忘れているものだけが光って教えてくれます. この場合,蛍光物質ではなく,LEDを利用していますが,これ以外にもたくさんの応用があるでしょう.

河田・藤田研究室 PhD. 名和 靖矩

Photonics Center e-Learning

posted Apr 22, 2015, 4:50 PM by フォトニクスセンター eラーニング   [ updated Apr 26, 2015, 7:06 PM ]

Greetings! I am Chiaki Tanaka, manager of e-Learning at the Photonics Center.

The hustle and bustle of a new school year and the warm sunshine of spring are upon us. But in this season that brims with sunlight, how much do you really know about light in general?

Many people are interested in topics concerning living and health. Some believe morning sunshine is important for establishing their rhythm for the day, and women might be particularly concerned about skin damage from sunburn. Although we are so familiar with it, there are so many things that we, as non-technical people, do not know about light, which is essential for all living things.

Unlike the electron, which had its day in the 20th century, the photon by its nature can freely travel through the atmosphere, water, and living matter. The photon is said to be the key to core technologies of the 21st century in the fields of energy, environment, ICT, advanced manufacturing, safety and security.

Clearly, light has great potential. But when one who is not a researcher versed in the field tries to learn the fundamentals of light, imposing barriers spring up in the form of physics and chemistry equations, which can end up giving that individual cold feet.

I am pleased to announce that Photonics Center e-Learning now offers a more effective teaching program on the subject of light. Here I would like to take the opportunity to introduce the e-Learning program. We have opened the e-Learning program only for the members in Osaka University and the partner companies who have been trying to making invention together. 

Photonics Center e-Learning

At this time, Photonics Center e-Learning offers Photonics Courses covering photonics from its fundamentals to advanced technologies, socially beneficial Photonics Entrepreneurial Courses for innovation creation in the photonics industry, and openly available (no login required) courses, including Common Facility (Equipment) Operation Courses and general courses. Last fiscal year, we released five new Common Facility Operation courses, in which Photonics Center technicians provide an overview of and describe in detail the use of state-of-the-art photonics equipment.

e-Learning Common Facilities Operation Courses

Access to Photonics Center e-Learning is limited to Osaka University faculty and students and Photonics Center partners. Osaka University members may access the course content by logging in with their Osaka University Personal ID through the Campus Authentication Service. Members of partner organizations who are accessing the site for the first time will be issued an ID and password with which they will have access to the content.

The lectures, comprising slides that incorporate illustrations, are attractively designed to provide visual stimulation and to leave a vivid impression. Each video is also kept to about 20 minutes in length so that the viewer can maintain his/her attention and repeat the lecture as desired. PCs, smartphones, and tablet devices are all supported.

Access to Photonics Center e-Learning is a privilege reserved for Osaka University faculty and students and Photonics Center partners.

I am convinced that the courses, which start with fundamentals and extend to applications, will help you gain a deeper understanding of the possibilities of light. Please visit the site and see for yourself.


Chiaki Tanaka
e-Learning Manager
Photonics Center

こんにちは。フォトニクスセンター eラーニング担当 田中です。






【フォトニクスセンター e-ラーニング】

現在、フォトニクスセンター e-ラーニングでは、フォトニクスの基礎から最先端まで学べる「フォトニクス講座」、フォトニクスで産業イノベーションを生み出し、社会貢献を目指す「フォトニクス起業講座」、その他、ログインせずに見られる、共用装置利用講座、一般講座があります。昨年度は共用装置利用講座を新たに5本公開いたしました。フォトニクスセンターの技術職員が、光に関わる最新鋭の装置について、その概要から使い方まできめ細やかに紹介しています。

【e-ラーニング 共用装置利用講座】





2015年4月23日 フォトニクスセンター 田中 千秋

1-10 of 40