Prise winners list

Commercialization of the sophisticated optical crystals in the defect control and production method and the optical elements by using those crystals

Hokuto-City, Yamanashi Prefecture
Oxide Corporation
Other award winners
Oxide Corporation / Takeshi Ito, Masayuki Habu, Makoto Matsukura, Sadao Matsumura, Akio Miyamoto
SWING Ltd. / Kenji Kitamura, Syunji Takekawa, Masaru Nakamura, Hideki Hatano
Recommended by
The National Institute for Materials Science, Teruo Kishi, Administrative Director (at the time of recommendation)
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Furukawa, Yasunori  (50)
President

It is the researcher's duty to use innovative research results effectively in a society and to create a new market
summary

This company developed crystal manufacturing equipment provided with the world-leading "high-accuracy weight detecting system, high-accuracy automatic diameter controlling system and high-accuracy material powder feeding system". By using this equipment, the company succeeded in commercialization of the stoichiometric lithium tantalate single crystal "SLT" and the stoichiometric lithium niobate single crystal "SLN", which were used as materials for sophisticated optical elements developed by the National Institute for Materials Science. In addition, the company developed the "high-yield polarization inversion technology". SWING Ltd., its joint venture partner, is developing a world-leading large wavelength conversion element by using the commercialized SLT and SLN single crystals.

summary

The results of research conducted in a laboratory were not used in society. Therefore I started my company

The 21st century is said to be the era of optoelectronics. The optical technology and electronics are used to produce the Bu-ray Disc and perform optical communication, and with the advancement of optical technology, the optoelectronics will develop further. Oxide Corporation is a venture company that develops sophisticated optical elements that are the basis for optoelectronics. President Furukawa worked for the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) until 2000 to research and develop oxide single crystals that were used as materials for sophisticated optical elements. 
Single crystals are crystals, in which atoms are arranged orderly in the same direction, and other crystals, in which atom arrangement is irregular, are called "poly crystal". Many of the former have various functions. For example, silicon single crystals are called "rice (staple food) for the semiconductor industry"
Mr. Furukawa was researching the lithium tantalate single crystal "LT" and the lithium niobate single crystal "LN", which were used for the noise removal filters of mobile phone, to improve their quality and use them in the optics.
"When the LT and LN are used for electronics devices such as a mobile phone, the quality of them is not so important because only piezoelectric effect is used. However, when they are used for a wavelength conversion element, very high quality is required because light is very sensitive to a defective material. 
They tried to produce a high quality single crystal, but the atom arrangement became partially irregular in the convention method. After many years of research, the research group of Mr. Furukawa succeeded in development of technology for production of very high-quality single crystals of super LT (SLT) and super LN (SLN).
These SLT and SLN will be used as materials for the optical elements that are used for a laser TV, laser projector and high-speed large-capacity optical communication. 
By combining light's three primary colors, we can reproduce the colors in the natural world, and out of three colors, a red and blue light emitting diodes and semiconductor lasers are already practically used, but it is said that it is very difficult to develop green LED and laser. However, if we use a wavelength conversion element that uses the SLT and SLN, we can convert an infrared ray of 1064nm (nanometer) wavelength into a green ray of 532nm. These materials had great potential, and the developed technology was licensed to five private companies. However, those companies commercialized no products even five years later.
"Then I thought that I should establish my own company. I thought that it was a duty of researchers to use innovative research results effectively in a society and create a new market."
He established his company in October 2000 and strived to commercialize the SLT and SLN.

Even if a technology is "at the top level in the world" in a laboratory, nobody buys a product if its quality is not stable

However, the production method developed in our laboratory could not be used in actual production as it was.
"Even if a produced crystal had a crack, we can remove a cracked section, produce a normal crystal and say in an academic circle, 'We have produced the best material in world'. However, nobody buys a product that is cracked even slightly. 
There are various production methods for single crystals. This company is developing the CZ method (pulling up crystals from solution while rotating them). Materials such as lithium and tantalum are put into a crucible and heated to 1300 to 1700C to melt them. And a single crystal like a small square bar is inserted into the solution and crystals are pulled up while rotating the bar. In the case of SLT and SLN, the solution and crystals are different in composition and so the composition of solution changes as the crystals grow. The composition of solution must always be kept the same to solve this problem. Therefore, they developed a new system, in which the weight of pulled-up crystals is measured as needed when they are pulled up from the crucible and the material of the same composition and quantity is supplied to the crucible. They succeeded in commercialization of products in May 2001. 
In the method developed by the NIMS, the yield rate was only 10% and so 90% of products had to be disposed of. In the new system, however, the yield rate is as high as 98%. 
"I did nothing. Our innovative researchers worked very hard and did everything." Currently the company can produce various crystals in various methods, and sixteen researchers are trying to develop a new material.
Mr. Furukawa says, "My dream is to develop our company to be one of hob areas for optical single crystals and engineers for them."

Oxide Corporation

http://www.opt-oxide.com/

Established:
Oct. 2000
Capital:
373 million yen
Employees:
38 (as of Dec. 2009)
Brief information:
This venture company was established to develop and commercialize the results of research about the sophisticated optical materials that was conducted by the National Institute for Materials Science.

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Image1
Image2

An infrared ray (wavelength is 1064nm) invisible to humans is converted into a green light (wavelength is 532nm, half the original one) through a wavelength conversion element.

Image3

This is a single crystal of SLT. The upper square bar is inserted into a solution and pulled up while being rotated to grow a single crystal. The product is sliced thinly to manufacture the materials for optical elements.

Image4

Raw materials for a single crystal such as lithium, tantalum and niobium are put into a crucible and heated up to 1300 to 1700 Celsius to melt them.