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分析のちから / Power of analysis

posted Sep 26, 2013, 9:49 PM by 内山友江   [ updated Sep 26, 2013, 10:33 PM ]
Hello. I’m Naoyoshi Kubota  of Nanophoton Corporation . I spend most of my time working in our R&D Center on the 3F of the Photonics Center, analyzing materials using Raman spectroscopy. I’m using materials analysis everyday as a matter of course, and I’d like to take this opportunity to consider what we call ‘analysis’.

The Japanese characters for ‘analysis’ literally mean dividing the object of analysis into its component elements and investigating each one individually. The elements in this case can be space, time or anything else. For example, I think that a requirement for analyzable spatial scales that was developed in the direction of millimeter, micrometer, nanometer and microminiature scales can meet the requirement for spatial analysis from one point of view.
And surely it’s the methodological beauty of analysis and the findings of the people who have put it to skilled use that provided the invisible support for today’s scientific advances.

However, this involves one assumption, that of reversibility. After breaking the object of analysis into its elements and investigating each element, we assume that if we rebuild it, it will revert to its original appearance. If you empty a box of building blocks, play with the ones you like then put them back in the box, there you are, they’re back as they were.
It’s just plain common sense. But some writer (sorry I forget who), suggests that the natural world is a bit different — in fact, in many cases, reversibility doesn’t apply. In other words, analysis doesn’t deliver true information about the object of analysis! So is my work a waste of time?!

Well, it seems not in fact. At least not in real-life terms. More than ninety-percent? No. If reversibility makes up about 50% of the total, although it isn’t perfect, I believe it’s still enough to provide an answer for practical purposes. 
What’s important is knowing what it is that you want to clarify, and the limitations of the analytical methods used as tools to that end. When we conduct analysis for a client, we make sure that they’re fully aware of these two points. Surprisingly, in many cases they’re not sure of these things. However, once this is clear, a signal tends to emerge from the noise. I half-jokingly call this ‘getting a hunch ’, but hunches are also important in this work.

Now in principle, since there are limits to analysis, we tend to want to reduce needless hassle and just get on with observation. Raman spectroscopy is a powerful analytical tool in this respect because you can measure samples with very little preparation. In addition, there are few restrictions on the setup environment of the samples. It really is an analytical method suited to investigating complex systems just as they are. You can use it at the Photonics Center, so please do come and try it out.





ごく当たり前のようですが、ある文献によれば、自然界は少し違う・・・どころか、可逆性が適用できないケースが多いとのこと(すみません、出典は忘れてしまいました)。すなわち分析しても、対象物についての本当の意味での情報は得られない! 私の仕事は無駄!?

いえいえ、そうでも無いようです。少なくとも実生活と言う範囲では。せいぜい90%? いえ50%程度の可逆性が成り立っていれば、完璧でないにしろ実用上十分な解答を与える事ができるように思います。