Message archive‎ > ‎

「製品化成功なう」 Productization a Success!

posted Feb 26, 2013, 11:43 PM by 内山友江   [ updated May 16, 2013, 7:42 PM by Mai Kiyotaki ]
We have successfully marketed a plasma detector for gas chromatography all in the world (Japan, US, Europe, China), through joint research with Shimadzu Corporation (press release: Many people may wonder what the Photonics Center has to do with plasma or analyzers, but this is just a photonic device that uses the high-energy photons emitted from plasma.

A gas chromatograph is a type of analyzer that evaluates the composition of gases. The sample gas is separated out into its components in capillary columns flowing with carrier gas, and a detector measures temporal changes of the separated gas. Detectors with various characteristics are available on the market, but we developed a new BID detector (Barrier Discharge Ionization Detector) that uses plasma, combining it with gas chromatography equipment to produce a commercial system branded as Tracera ( The principle behind BID involves photoionization of the sample gas that comes out of the capillary column, using photons with high energy of > 10 eV, emitted from a non-thermal, atmospheric-pressure plasma of helium. The ions generated are detected as a electrical current. Compared with a conventional detector, it features high sensitivity and the ability to detect a range of components. For details, please see the website at

My own field of specialization is non-thermal atmospheric-pressure plasmas, and we were able to successfully realize this productization by proceeding from basic plasma physics research through industry-university collaboration with Shimadzu Corporation, which is Japan’s topanalysis equipment manufacturer, with the support of the Photonics Center. Although the combination of plasma physics researcher and analysis equipment manufacturer is somewhat unusual, I feel that it was precisely this combination that enabled the birth of this innovation. Generally speaking, in many cases it is very difficult to have a discussion when the parties involved come from different fields of specialization, with the manufacturer saying “Plasma is difficult,” and the university saying, “We don’t understand analysis equipment”. However, as the saying goes, “The experts know best”; since this was a joint research project, it was essential that the research proceed with the university taking the stance, “Leave the plasma to us,” and the manufacturer taking the stance, “Leave the analysis equipment to us,” and each parties having a certain understanding of the other’s field of specialization (full understanding was not required). Moreover, connections between people are also extremely important, and the Shimadzu Corporation researchers working on the project were all really great people (as well as brilliant, of course), and I think that we were able to develop various new technologies because we were able to build relationships that enabled easy discussion. In order to carry out technological research such as this, many source ideas are necessary, and so it was also very fortunate that researchers in the divisions conducting the project had also another different connections with senior research laboratory researchers and club old boys/girls, enabling relationships allowing the easy exchange of ideas.

Although many of these ideas ultimately came to naught, it can be said that the development of several new technologies leading to practical application was possible precisely because so many ideas had been put forward.

Of course, the journey towards commercialization  was not short, but being able to be involved in the project up until the production process provided numerous experiences that cannot be gained through research activities in academia, and I myself am very grateful that I was able to grow personally through the project. I am also grateful to the Photonics Center, which provides long-term support for joint research over long journeys such as this. Currently, we are conducting research aimed at further improving performance, and we will continue to do our very best in the future.

Katsuhisa Kitano



 ガスクロマトグラフというのはガスの組成を評価する分析装置の一つであり、サンプルガスはキャリアーガスを流したキャピラリーカラムによって成分ごとに分離され、検出器で時間変化を測定する装置構成となっています。検出器としては各種の特徴を持ったものが市販されていますが、今回、プラズマを用いたBID (Barrier discharge Ionization Detector)という検出器を新しく開発し、ガスクロマトグラフ装置と組み合わせたTraceraというシステムを製品化しました。BIDは、ヘリウムガスを用いた大気圧低温プラズマから発する10数eV程度の高いエネルギーを持つフォトンにより、キャピラリーカラムから出てきたサンプルガスをフォトアイオナイゼーションして、生成されたイオンを電流として検出する原理を利用しています。従来の検出器と比べて高い感度、あらゆる成分を検出可能などの優れた特徴があり、詳細はホームページを参照してください。



 北野 勝久