Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No. 261: Writing in information you get on the blank map (March 30, 2011)

You can write in your favorite restaurants and reliable hospitals on the blank map by yourself. Glissando, an Osaka-based system developer, will launch on April 1 a new social networking service that allows members to write in information they get and exchange the information with other members over the map. The new service is called Gliss Mapping Communication, and Glissando will manage it in alliance with Research institute of Geographic Information System in Osaka using the map data based on the fundamental geospatial data released by Geographical Information Authority of Japan. All members can write in information, and they can be a charged member by paying an annual membership fee of 1,260-2,520 yen. Charged members can share the information on the map with other members. The company plans to market this service in the industrial market for sales activities and distribution of disaster information, and to local governments, schools, and hospitals because it will be helpful for confirmation of the safety of victims and distributing information on evacuation centers in a time of disaster. The company plans to get 10 million members including free members in a few years.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No. 260: Electric vehicle with considerably reduced number of parts (March 15, 2011)

To stand ready for the foreseeable decrease of demand for bearings, NTN Corp. will shortly unveil its concept car that incorporates such advanced technology as equipment to roll tires using a motor inside the wheel. NTN’s advanced technology makes an EV lighter and reduces the number of parts considerably. The concept car can go up to 150 km/h with durability of 300,000 km. The new system is made up of two kinds of equipment. One is the drive unit that rolls tires directly using a motor inside the wheels, and the other is an electronic device that controls the angle of tires responding to steering. It can eliminate not only large parts as engine, axles, and gears, but also a shaft that connects the steering wheel and tires. That is, you can get the basic performance of running, turning, and stopping by combining the system with a battery. NTN estimates that the drive unit will be 20% lighter than the one build in the existing electric vehicle. At the same time, energy loss can be reduced because power is transmitted directly to tires. The problem with the system is the necessity to improve the durability to the impact coming from the road surface. With the NTN’s new system, even medium-sized companies and venture companies can build electric vehicles easily.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No. 259: Successful communication experiment of the world’s fastest transmission speed using an optical fiber (March 11, 2011)

Three organizations, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Sumitomo Electric, and Optoquest, announced that they jointly succeeded in the communication experiment to get a transmission speed of 109 terabits per second using an optical fiber. The speed of 109 terabits is one million times faster than the speed of the optical fiber widespread in households. They realized this achievement using the original technology to increase the number of passages inside an optical fiber, and believe that they will be able to further increase the transmission speed using the same technology. They increase the number of the passage of light called “core” from one to seven. Increasing the number of cores is supposed to deteriorate transmission because the signal in each core affects each other, but they successfully solved this problem by developing the structure that makes it hard for signals to leak out and opened up the way for practical application. In the experiment, they successfully transmitted numerical data at 109 terabits per second for a distance of 16.8 km. It is about 1.6 times faster than the existing speed of 69.1 terabits per second. This speed means that a two-hour film of the full high definition quality can be transmitted in 0.1 second without compression.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No. 258: Use a mobile phone to know the production area of a fruit (March 10, 2011)

You can know the production area of a fruit instantly using your mobile phone. NEC developed the technology to read out the pattern on the surface of a fruit and know the production area with reference to the preinstalled images and data of the production area using the built-in camera. The company conducted experiments this technology using a melon. The mobile phone used in the experiment had preinstalled images of 1,800 melons preinstalled, and the probability of misjudgment was one millionth. It plans to put this technology into practical use in a few years for the prevention of deception of production area. The difference in angle and lighting can be compensated, and special equipment like bar-code reader is not necessary. Farmers can take pictures of their fruits before shipment to put the images into the database, and distributors and consumers can confirm the producer and shipping date of the fruits using their own mobile phones. In addition to eliminating the time and labor required to put the labels of the production area for lower distribution cost, this technology will make it possible to specify stolen fruits. NEC plans to increase the recognition accuracy to read the pattern on the surface of fishery products.

No. 257: Mass production of bendable LSI toward 2015 (March 9, 2011)

Japanese leading companies will work toward mass production of bendable LSI in alliance with the government. They will jointly develop the technology to print an LSI on a thin film. The bendable LSI will be utilized to develop a TV as thin as a scroll picture, electronic paper, health management sensor attached directly to the body. The development team is scheduled to mass produce bendable LSIs in 2015. Bendable LSI is expected to affect the auto industry favorably. A highly sophisticated LSI attached to the auto body will make a car lighter and expand the space inside the car. Highly sophisticated printing technology and plastic materials that have enough strength and elasticity are vital to draw a complicate circuit on a film. Plastics will be supplied by Toyobo and Teijin and the printing technology will be provided by Dainippon Printing, Toppan Printing, and Fujifilm. Panasonic and Sony will complete finish products utilizing their expertise in marketing. If the printing technology is established, production process will be shortened in various industries to prevent global warming. It is expected that about 4.5 million tons of carbon dioxide will be reduced by 2030 and that production time will be shortened to one thirtieth. The government has already appropriated 2.1 billion yen for the initial year.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

No. 256: Synthesize a magnet material without rare earthes (March 7, 2011)

A research team participated by Toda Kogyo and Tohoku University announced that it succeeded in quantity synthesis of a magnet material that does not contain any rare earthes. The material is a fine nitriding iron powder from several tens of nanometers to several hundreds of nanometers in diameter and can be used for the magnet of the motor of electric vehicles. The research team successfully produced this new material using the raw material containing organic substances including iron with the help of an innovative chemical synthetic procedure. According to a professor of Tohoku University, the new material can increase the magnetic force by about 1.6 times. This means it is possible to downsize the motor by about 40% without decreasing the output. Toyota Motors and Honda Motor will cooperate with the team to put the new technology into practical use by 2023. The magnet currently used for the motor of EVs needs neodymium that is one of rare earthes, and it is an urgent and national task to develop an alternative technology to eliminate the necessity of rare earthes.

Friday, March 4, 2011

No. 255: Develop an inexpensive battery without lithium ion for vehicle and residential use (March 3, 2011)

Sumitomo Electric developed a new battery that uses sodium ion in place of lithium ion. The newly-developed sodium-ion battery is considerably cheaper than a lithium-ion battery. The former is only one tenth of the latter in price. In addition, sodium-ion battery can be downsized more easily than lithium-ion battery. The company plans to commercialize it toward 2015 as the next-generation battery for vehicles and households. The main ingredient is molten salt that needs to remain melted at more than 300 degrees centigrade for applications. The company developed a new sodium-based material that can be melted at 57 degrees centigrade in alliance with Kyoto University and opened up the way for applications. The new product has about two times as much energy density as the standard lithium-ion battery, and it allows an electric vehicle to run two times much distance as a lithium-ion battery of the same capacity. It is made entirely of incombustible materials, and strong against high temperature and impact. Because sodium is cheaper than lithium, the new battery is estimated to cost 20,000 yen per kilowatt, much cheaper even than competitive products from China. Sumitomo Electric and Kyoto University jointly filed a patent application.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No. 254: Develop rice to mitigate hay fever for commercialization toward 2020 (March 2, 2011)

It is reported that 30% of Japanese people suffer from hay fever, and the market of remedy for hay fever is estimated to exceed 200 billion yen. The Japanese government starts to conduct substantiative experiments of rice to mitigate hay fever. This rice was developed jointly by the government and Nippon Paper Industries. Because animal experiments produced enough results to confirm the efficacy of the new rice, the substantiative experiments focus on the safety for commercialization. The research team paid notice to the treatment that keeps dosing the allergen substance, which causes hay fever, to make the body used to it, and utilized the genetic technology to introduce the substance into rice. Laboratories affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will start animal experiments to support the avirulence of the new rice. At the same time, the government starts to develop the technology to cook the new rice in alliance with Satake Corp. that is a food machinery manufacturer. Because any company can produce and sell once it has the new rice approved by the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, many agricultural production corporations are expected to enter the market. The government has already appropriated about 350 million yen for this project in the next year’s budget.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No. 253: A new emitting material for organic electroluminescence, no rare metals are required (March 1, 2011)

A professor of Kyushu University developed a new emitting material for organic electroluminescence. The new material is totally made of organic substances. Because it does not contain any rare metals, the production cost is less than that of the existing materials that contain rare metals like iridium. Called PIC-TRZ, the new material is built by combining carbazole and triazine and expected to be the major player for the next-generation organic electroluminescence. It has the behavior to change the energy lost in radiation for luminescence to fluorescence. A thin film element built with this new organic material emits greenly with a wavelength about 500 nanometers if electric current is applied to it. Using the principle of thermal activation delayed fluorescence, the new material does not need rare metals like iridium and platinum as the existing organic electroluminescence does. The new material has such low luminance efficiency as several percents at the present stage, but luminance efficiency can be improved by changing the combinations of elements. The new material is very promising because it helps organic electroluminescence expand the applications to laser oscillation and large-area luminescence.