Site: National Industrial Research Institute of Nagoya (NIRIN)
1 Chome Hirate, Kitaku
Nagoya 462, Japan
Fax: (81) 52911 1661

Date Visited: 25 July 1997

WTEC: J. Mendel (report author), D.M. Cox, C. Koch, H. Morishita, R.W. Siegel



The National Industrial Research Institute of Nagoya (NIRIN) has as its mission to carry out advanced materials research on ceramics, metals, composites, and related materials. Established in 1952, its main research field is material science and technology. There is close cooperation with domestic and global universities; there are also efforts to interface with other national research institutes.

Within Japan's National Industrial Research Institutes (NIRI) there are six major technical departments. In 1996, the annual budget for NIRI was $92 million (US). Total staff is 220 who participate in the Institute. For this visit, the WTEC panel focused on the area of synergy ceramics and materials.

In the area of synergy ceramics, the emphasis is on structural control for improving a specific property of a given material. Here there is effort to simultaneously control structural elements at every stage (from atomic scale to the macro scale). This approach is referred to as "hyperorganized structure control." In the area of synergy ceramics, there are a total of 30-35 people involved in the investigation of ceramics and metals. Size can be classified into four major categories for creating superior ceramic materials: (1) atomic and molecular scale, (2) nanoscale, (3) microscale, and (4) macroscale. In the hyperorganized approach to structure control, effort is made to harmonize and trade off functions, such as strength and toughness or electrical conductivity and stress sensitivity. In 1994, the synergy ceramics project was launched to foster collaboration among national research laboratories, universities, and industries. Part of the program is under the sponsorship of the New Energy and Industrial Development Organization (NEDO) and is entrusted to the Fine Ceramics Research Association (FCRA).

The Synergy Ceramics Project is divided into Core research and Satellite research projects. Core research is being carried out at NIRIN and at the Synergy Ceramics Laboratory located in the Japan Fine Ceramic Center (JFCC) by researchers from FCRA, NIRIN, and several national universities. Satellite research is being carried out by 12 industrial organizations participating in the FCRA and by the Osaka and Kyushu National Research Institutes.

The projects that the WTEC panel were introduced to constitute only a portion of the core research. There are also many other topics being pursued as part of the Synergy Ceramics program.


Specific projects for synergy ceramics include the following:

  1. alumina ceramics containing lanthanum oxide (La2O3)
  2. alumina ceramics doped with SiO2
  3. alumina ceramics doped with both La2O3 and SiO2 producing anisotropic grain growth of Al2O3 and in situ plate growth of La2O3
  4. scaling of Si3N4 with Y2O3 and SiO2; thermal conductivity values of SiN4 are dependent on the processes of scaling and casting to improve strength, toughness, and Young's modulus
  5. nanoporous silica films with one-dimensional throughput channels of 10-20 nm; high temperature oxides of Fe2SiO4 were prepared for evaluation as molecular sieves and particulate filters
  6. preparation of submicron emulsions of Al2O3, surfactant and water; here, a silica coating is deposited on alumina powder; this coating makes the alumina surface negative over a broad pH range


  1. ISO pressing (12 tons/cm2)
  2. Ceramic furnaces
  3. Superplasticity measurement device
  4. High resolution TEM


The final year for this five-year program on synergy ceramics is 1998. It is anticipated that this program will continue in the pursuit of the synthesis of nanoporous materials for absorbing oil and identified particulates; the preparation ligands include ferrous materials such as ferrous disilicate; also of interest is the synthesis of ceramic materials with polymers that have low coefficient of friction similar to teflon.


Attached below are discussions on cluster engineering by Dr. Sakae Tanemura in response to the technical questions posed by the WTEC panel before the visit.

NIRIN's Research Activities on "Cluster Engineering" by Prof. Dr. Sakae Tanemura

Scientific Drivers

Those important to cluster engineering are as follows: new phenomena (cluster and surface interaction in both soft and hard collision cases; cluster coalescence and/or diffusion on the surface; solid state properties of assembled and/or embedded clusters).


Cluster itself is nanoscale material and shows the size-dependent quantum effect. If we can use a size-controlled cluster as a building block for nanostructure fabrication on a surface, we can fabricate new types of electronics (multiemitter-type resonance transistor, multitunnel junctions, and new magnetic devices having multivalued recordings with superhigh density). We will accomplish this by the combination of any materials and generally any substrates. "Cluster engineering" will help to break through some of the present difficulties faced by silicon technologies for nanostructures and will be a promising complement to silicon technologies.

Critical Parameters to Control

To move a high density size controlled cluster beam from the source to another vacuum vessel for deposition (for deposition by soft landing and/or hard collision); to identify a cluster source; and deal with cooling and filtration will require specific knowledge for installation to operate effectively.

To realize soft landing and/or hard collision deposition of clusters on a substrate, and to have ion optics to accelerate and deaccelerate ionized clusters will require specific designing skill.

To control the assembled parameters (parameters to control self-diffusion, migration and/or coalescence of deposited clusters, as well as the surface crystallinity of the substrate), including introduction of regular steps and/or kinks and termination of crystal bonds of surface atoms, will require extensive systematic research.

Current Status

These investigations have just begun with the cluster groups in Japan, the United States, and Europe, and the work is at a fundamental stage. Rapid progress will be expected within three to five years if certain research resources are available.

Time Scale to Completion and Manufacturability

It is difficult to estimate the time scale for ultimate application. This will be very much affected by the nanoscale requirements by semiconductor and memory industries. We must identify needs for large capacity and high speed memory requiring relatively small amounts of power.

R&D Philosophy

Our philosophy, directions, and basic concept are described in published brochures.

Overall Japanese R&D Activities on Cluster Engineering

I don't know the overall R&D of nanotechnology throughout Japan. The definition of nanotechnology should be defined clearly. As far as I am concerned with cluster engineering in Japan, here are the other leading laboratories and/or persons working in this area:

  1. JRCAT and NAIR (AIST, MITI) at Tsukuba: Atom Technologies group, particularly Dr. Y. Kanayama, ("Atom Technologies" project is a typical national project on nanostructures and being well funded by AIST, MITI)
  2. Metal & Inorganic Material Institute, Tohoku Univ. at Sendai: Profs. K. Suzuki, K. Sumiyama and A. Kasuya. They are funded by "Strategic Fundamental Research Fund" of Science & Technology Agency (STA) as three-year projects of about $2.5 million.
  3. Ion Engineering Research Laboratory, Kyoto Univ. at Kyoto, Prof. I. Yamada and Dr. Z. Matsuo. Dr. Z. Matsuo is doing research on argon-cluster sputtering. (No data for funding.)
  4. Cluster Lab., Toyota Inst. of Tech. at Ichikawa, Chiba, Prof. T. Kondow. The funding is given by the Kompon (Fundamental & Generic) Laboratory of Nippon Denso Co.
  5. Chemistry Dept., Faculty of Science & Technology, Keio Univ., Prof. K. Kaya. (No data for funding.)

Educational Initiatives

All occur in the above-mentioned universities. I have already supervised my postgraduate student on cluster deposition.

NIRIN has already inaugurated international cooperation work on Cluster Engineering with Frei University, Department of Physical Chemistry, Berlin, Prof. Woeste's lab (experiments); and with Wien Technical University, Department of General Physics, Wien, Prof. G. Betz (MD simulation of cluster impact).

We welcome international cooperation on any subject related to cluster engineering.


Hirao, K., T. Nagaoka, M.E. Brito, and S. Kanzaki. 1994. Microstructure control of silicon nitride by seeding with rod-like b-silicon nitride particles. J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 77:1857-62.

Hirao, K., M. Ohashi, M.E. Brito, and S. Kanzaki. 1995. Processing strategy for producing highly anisotropic silicon nitride. J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 78:1687-90.

Hirao, K., A. Tsuge, M.E. Brito, and S. Kanzaki. 1993. Preparation of rod-like b-Si3N4 single crystal particles. J. Ceram. Soc. Jpn. 101:1071-73.

Kanzaki, S., and H. Matsubara. 1994. New and developing research on advanced ceramics. Bull. Ceram. Soc. Jpn. 29: 124-30 (in Japanese).

Yasuoka, M., K. Hirao, M.E. Brito, and S. Kanzaki. 1995. High-strength and high-fracture-toughness ceramics in the Al2O3/LaAl11O18 systems. J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 78:1853-56.

Published: September 1999; WTEC Hyper-Librarian