Site: Teratec Corporation
2-11-13 Nakacho, Musashino-shi
Tokyo 180, Japan
Date Visited: 16 October 1998
WTEC Attendees: R. Harris, H.M. Morishita
The WTEC visitors were received by Mr. Ishikawa, Manager of the General Affairs Department. At the time of the WTEC panel visit the director, Mr. Hisao Nakamura, was in the hospital. Mr. Nakamura had spent a year at NIST in Gaithersburg, MD, about a decade earlier. Many of the managers of the various R&D departments traveled from Teratec's other locations to the meeting.
Teratec is a joint project running from March 1992, to March 2001, with an expected total capital of ¥7.5 billion. Participants and their fractional investments follow:
Japan Key Technology Center 70%
Yokogawa Electric Corporation 10%
Advantest Corporation 4%
Ando Electric Co., Ltd. 4%
Anritsu Corporation 4%
Hewlett-Packard Laboratories Japan 4%
Iwatsu Electric Co., Ltd. 4%
The focus of Teratec is "research and development on fundamental technology such as micro-probe technology, sampling technology and so on, to realize signal waveform measuring systems for ultra high-speed devices and systems that are essential for future high-speed information processing and transmission."
Many of these companies are manufacturers of superb commercial high-speed test equipment. Their cooperation in forming Teratec seems natural.
The general areas of work of Teratec and their departmental locations are as follows:
Departments 1 and 5 are on the site of Yokogawa Electric in Musashino. Departments 2, 3, and 4 are in three other locations. Teratec also does joint research with the Plasma Research Institute at Tsukuba University and the Nuclear Fusion Research Institute in Nagoya.
The process by which Teratec was founded first involved joint meetings in which the participants agreed on research objectives. Subsequently they worked with the major shareholder, JKTC, to get final agreement. Their objective is to develop measurement techniques up to a few hundred GHz. They are working in the range of 50 to 100 GHz so far.
One method used by Teratec to evaluate its work is outside the JKTC review. Like the JKTC review, this one is also organized by professors. This internal review is held once a year, as recommended by JKTC.
JKTC officials desire a high return on their investment. Working with JKTC requires a great deal of time. Many meetings are held to set objectives. So far more than 100 patents have been applied for, but, of course, one cannot be certain whether they will provide adequate return. JKTC will evaluate Teratec every two years, rather than the original JKTC plan for reviews every three years.
The early evaluations primarily concerned technology, but now they are turning more to financial return. Some of the professors doing the reviews are famous and are known to the researchers. The economic evaluations were done for the first time in 1997. Instead of using an academic panel, the firm Nomura was used. Nomura has developed a long-term projection of the company's results.
Teratec provides partial early technical disclosures to its shareholders, not to encourage commercialization, but to ask member companies to evaluate commercial possibilities.
When asked for an explanation of why Teratec could not remain in business at the end of the JKTC funding to produce and market its ideas, the researchers indicated that Teratec's participants are competitors so that a joint commercial company would be difficult.
Teratec has proposed methods many times for improving its relationship with JKTC. Particularly troublesome is that funds are transferred to Teratec four times per year with attendant strict auditing. Transfers two times a year would be more efficient in the opinion of Teratec managers.
The WTEC panel was shown a 450 m2 clean room which was superbly appropriate for the developmental research being undertaken. It included molecular beam epitaxy, deposition of SiN and SiO2 and other integrated circuit materials. Lithography was done with a Canon multimask i-line stepper manufactured in 1992. Heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBT) fabricated in the facilities play a frequent role in Teratec's developments. The facility is run by three staff members, but appears to be operated as an open shop by Teratec scientists, a practice that is more common in U.S. laboratories and is helpful in stimulating creativity and achieving results rapidly.
The WTEC team was also shown impressive microwave test equipment, but limited time prevented a detailed explanation of its use. The underlying technical requirement is based on the need to design and manufacture ultra high speed integrated circuits with electrical connections that transmit radiation rather than merely static voltages.
Teratec has developed a scanning force optoelectronic microscope (SFOEM), which offers state-of-the-art positioning capability through piezoelectric positioners and ultra-fast time resolution through laser-driven optical switches. Much of the apparatus is integrated into the tiny probe tip of the microscope. Teratec has measured time resolution as small as about 2 ps and can produce false color plots of the propagation of signals in transmission lines.
Other projects of Teratec, all at ultra-high-speed, are optical sampling techniques, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion, circuit technology for micro-probes, multiplexing and demultiplexing, and optical-to-electrical signal conversion.
All of these projects are aimed at very important measurement technology for future integrated circuits. It was not clear whether the projects are sufficiently timely compared with inevitable commercial demands. Neither was it clear whether the integrated circuit manufacturers can wait for such measurement technology to be developed outside their own organizations. The presence in Teratec's membership of active primary players in the new technology will hopefully ensure adequately prompt results followed by rapid commercialization of test instruments.
Teratec Corporation. Materials Received.
Future Technology for Measurements. n.d. Teratec Corporation.
Information on Scanning Force Optoelectronic Microscope. n.d. Teratec Corporation.
Teratec. 1998. Answers to WTEC questions (in Japanese).