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January could be considered the “high-tech convention” month in Japan.

Nanotech Japan was held at Tokyo Big Sight starting Jan. 28. The three-day trade show is considered the second major event after Nepcon Japan. Even though the scale of the show is smaller than Nepcon, it is still impressive in size. The entire floor of the East Hall was filled with exhibitors, and visitors formed long lines at the registration counters from the first day of the show.

The convention looks more academic compared to other high-tech events. Major R&D organizations such as NEDO, AIST and RIKEN reserved large booths and showcased their new electronic product lines. Many universities including Tokyo and Kyoto Universities, the Fraunhofer Institute of Germany, and the Industrial Technology Research Institute from Taiwan reserved booths for students to feature their designs and project developments.

Another unique characteristic of the show is the representation from foreign countries. Companies from Germany, Taiwan, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Czech, Iran, Canada, Switzerland and Korea attended the show. The only company in attendance from the United States was headquartered in North Carolina.

The show's name is suggestive of the products and technologies that are the main focus throughout the event. Other words and phrases used throughout the show included nano, nano materials, surface treatments and printable electronics. Exhibitors displayed many types of nano-powders, nano-inks, nano-paste, nano-wire, nano-fabric and more.

Carbon nanotube (CNT) was very popular at the show. Many companies displayed some potential applications using carbon nanotubes. It was standing-room only at the conferences and technical seminars that focused on CNT and related technologies. Many exhibitors showed the advantages of new nano-materials and nano-technologies. I did not have enough time to review all of them, but can share a few highlights.

Several companies including material suppliers and equipment manufacturers talked about fibers, fabrics and cloths made from CNT. Now that this conductive material is available for use in several fields, many companies spoke about its features and benefits. However, the technical data was no different than the material I read 10 years ago. The mechanical strength is much less than silk or nylon and the electrical conductivity is two orders lower compared with metallic copper or aluminum. When I asked about pricing for CNT materials, no one gave me a straight answer. The only thing they were sure on was the price will be much higher price compared to traditional materials. I sarcastically asked what kinds of applications were expected from an expensive material with lower performances. The marketing staff replied that it was the reason why they displayed the new material at the exhibition.

Researchers pointed out the superior performances and low costs when CNT was developed 20 years ago. Unfortunately, CNT did not become a “go to” application for researchers and companies. This is a common problem with new "space age" material. It looks really good on paper, but any practical use in the marketplace is where problems appear. You never really know until the rubber hits the road.

Dominique K. Numakura, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
DKN Research, www.dknresearchllc.com

DKN Research Newsletter #1504, Feb. 8, 2015 (English Edition)
(Micro Electronics & Packaging, www.dknresearchllc.com)

*To see the back numbers of the newsletter, please visit http://www.dknresearchllc.com/DKNRArchive/Newsletter/Newsletter.html

Headlines of the Week (Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.)

1. Namics unveiled a new heat-resistant conductive glue for surface mounting. The glue survives at 200C.

2. DNP started volume production of electrode film for high performance touch panel switches. 2micron line mesh is created by an etching process.

3. Tokyo University developed a new organic temperature sensor tag made by printing process. The performance is 10 times higher and the cost could be less than one-tenth.

4. Mitsubishi Material unveiled a new circuit board substrate DBA (Direct Bonded Aluminum) with copper heat sink for power modules.
5. JNC Corp. completed the installation of new manufacturing line of separator films for lithium ion batteries.

6. CIPA said Japanese manufacturers shipped 43.43 million digital cameras in 2014, a 30.9% decline from the previous year.

7. TSMC will introduce InFO-WLP (Integrated Fan Out Wafer Level Package) for 16 nm process targeting A10 of Apple, the generation processor.

8. Sony expanded its manufacturing capacity of CMOS image sensor from 60,000 wafers/month to 80,000 wafers/month.

9. TPK expects large growth of new touch screens with finger print sensors. The demands in China will increase more than 80%/year for next two years.

10. Showa Denko will start shipping 2.5” hard disks with 750Gb memory capacity. 1Tb disks will come soon.

11. Truly Optoelectronics will expand the business of OGS type touch panel screen in printer and automobile applications.

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