The author had the privilege of visiting Professor Esashi's laboratory at Tohoku University several years ago and again during this JTEC study. The changes at Tohoku University are remarkable. There is a new clean room and lots of sophisticated equipment that one needs for atomically precise rather than lithographic processing. The fact that Professor Esashi is an Associate Director of the Semiconductor Research Institute and has access to work in atomic and molecular epitaxy that originated with Professor Nishizawa, currently the President of Tohoku University, hints at a shift in emphasis towards nanomechanics. This change makes sense at Tohoku University. It also makes sense from a national perspective if the attitude is that Japan is behind in silicon micromechanics and in X-ray assisted processing. Work on precision gas valves that is in progress at several companies would yield improved control over gas sources for sophisticated epitaxial growth techniques, an important nanomechanical technology. A similar comment applies to several activities in Japan on miniature focused ion beam sources, which fit well into the concept of nano- rather than micromechanics. These devices, which are viewed as important tools for miniature, energy-efficient factories, can only support nanospace.
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