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As a part of university-industry collaboration projects, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) has promoted research and development in order to start businesses based on research results conducted at universities and public research institutes.

A research and development project "Development of the first magnetic susceptibility meter of particles, and its commercialization," consigned to Osaka University since 2011, has been promoted under the leadership of KAWANO Makoto, Specially Appointed Researcher, Innovation Division, Office for University-Industry Collaboration, Osaka University.

The group of researchers led by Kawano succeeded in developing a measurement device, Magnetophoretic Analysis for Individual Particle Property (MAIty), and method for analyzing surface coating and variation in ingredients of functional particles such as foundation, ink, and toner by using a magnetic field. Moreover, based on these results, on May 22, 2014, Kawano Science, Inc. was established by group members.

In order to accurately examine variation in quality and function of particles as a whole, it's necessary to correctly measure the function of each particle. Conventional particle analyzers evaluate the function based mainly on the  diameter of the particles. However, even when the diameter is the same, ingredients making up the particles are slightly different. Therefore, it has been difficult to evaluate how much of the article is blended into the liquid making it necessary for researchers to follow their hunches.

This group of researchers paid attention to magnetic susceptibility, which differs from one atom to another. Each particle has its own magnetic susceptibility originating from its atomic composition. Making use of this property, this group of researchers succeeded in evaluating solvent absorption by particles and coating by measuring the magnetic susceptibility by applying a magnetic field to the particle. This method can evaluate the uniformity of ingredients for each particle as well. Therefore, it becomes possible to improve yield by using this method in examining variation in quality from the stage of pouring particle ingredients in the production process of particle products. Also, by using this method for quality inspection of particle materials, it becomes possible to select more uniform makeup of materials and improve the stability of quality. It is also expected that this technology will contribute to the clarification of new particle functions and the development of new materials and high functional particles. This joint venture will start with contract analysis and later sell the measurement apparatus, aiming at sales of 150 million yen in three years.

This apparatus can measure a wide range of materials ranging from particle materials to end products -- from materials such as metal particles, to intermediate materials such as solar panel materials, to composite materials such as foundation and food additives. With such a wide range, this joint venture aims to offer innovative analysis solution to research and development as well as quality control.

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Related links

Adaptable and Seamless Technology transfer Program through target-driven R&D (A-STEP)
JST press release

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