Site: Kansai Advanced Research Center (KARC)
Communications Research Laboratory (CRL)
588-2, Iwaoka
Kishi-ku, Kobe 651-24, Japan

Date Visited: June 6, 1997

WTEC: K. Bhasin (report author), J. Evans, N. Helm, C. Mahle, S. Townes



Kansai Advanced Research Center was established in May 1989 as a major facility to perform basic research under the Communications Research Laboratory (CRL) of Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). The center performs basic research in the areas of information science and technology, materials science, laser technology, and biological information science, with the objective of developing advanced technology for the future in the areas of information processing and communications.

Also near this facility, the Asia Pacific Information Infrastructure (APII) Technology Center has been established; details are provided at the end of this report.

Frontier Research Program

KARC is MPT's center for the "Frontier Research Project." The Frontier Research in Telecommunications program is in part a response to the expanded research role required by privatization of NTT. The Frontier Research program is truly a research effort aimed at enhanced telecommunications services for the highly advanced information society of the 21st century. The relationships among various organizations are shown in Figure C.3. The research is long-term, fundamental, interdisciplinary, and high risk in nature.

Fig. C.3. The relationships among various organizations. The Frontier Research in Telecommunications program.

The center's technical sections are described below:

Auditory and Visual Informatics Section

This section investigates computational emulation of biological organisms for efficient processing of images (by segmentation) and speech (by neural networks). This is an example of a broadly interdisciplinary research project that might produce results impacting image transmission and storage, and direct visual and audio programming of computers. As an example, a human facial three dimensional image by a triangular mesh under a restricted number of data points has been simulated.

Knowledge Systems Section

This section is concerned with advanced man-machine interface issues, considering a networked environment (computer interface to richly networked information system). Using computer tools, analysis of the dialogue between user and machine is carried out. A highly visual approach is employed in interface design. Problems include the assumption that a user will attempt to use software without having read the manual and will be remotely located (network connection). Dialogue is assessed for varied help interface designs and user query sequences.

Intelligent Processing Section

This section performs research on modeling human intelligent functions to achieve machine understanding of natural language. An approach in use is to attempt to understand "puns" as an avenue towards deep understanding by machine identification of hidden meanings. The emphasis is not only on literal meanings but also on hidden meanings.

Superconducting Radio Physics Section

This section designs, fabricates, and characterizes novel superconducting devices for the millimeter wave region of the electromagnetic spectrum for sensing and communication applications. Both low and high temperature superconducting thin films are used in the devices. Superconducting oscillators, mixers, detectors, receivers and passive elements using niobium nitride and yttrium barium copper oxide have been designed. Electron beam lithography is used for thin film devices. A 400 millijoule KLF laser (2, 4, 8 nm) has been used for ablation in fabricating YBCO thin films. A 10,000 CFM clean room is available on site for this work.

Experiments with high Tc material for passive microstrip components and fabrication have been performed. High-Tc J-J junctions using Y-Ba-Cu-O thin films on MgO have been demonstrated.

Lightwave Technology Section

Semiconductor and Er-doped fiber lasers are used to produce ultrafast (approaching several THz) and ultrashort optical pulse sources. In addition to providing precise measurements, such pulses are being studied for high capacity communications.

Laser Physics Section

Ion trapping and laser cooling techniques are studied to develop precise measurements and future communication technologies in this section. Using an electromagnetic field, moving ions are trapped. Their kinetic energy is gradually dissipated by the illumination of laser light. Eventually their motions are completely frozen. The group has succeeded in freezing the motion of a single calcium ion. These techniques of manipulating atomic particles are applied to the fabrication of higher precision electronic devices which require the control of individual atoms in their fabrication.

Biological Function and Structural Biology Section

This research broadly addresses "intelligence" in living material through studies at the sub-cell and molecular level. To see genes and chromosomes at the molecular level, an order of magnitude greater resolution than that obtained from a microscope is needed. Fourier transform processing has been successfully used to separate and sharpen images, layer by layer, by deconvolution. A sequence of such images, akin to stop-motion photography, allows direct vision of changes within a cell, and correlation of these changes with externally observed events or stimuli. Copying or regeneration of a cell and energy conversion in muscle are phenomena under investigation. In both cases, some form of communication takes place within the cell and it is the objective of the research to further understand these communications.

Nanotechnology Section

Organic thin films are fabricated by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) and Langmuir-Blodgett technique in a clean room environment. Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM) is used to study the structure and properties of these films at nanometer scale. Molecular devices are fabricated by various molecular layer deposition processes or by applying electric fields. Techniques for measuring the optical performance of such molecular devices are also being developed.

Asia Pacific Information Infrastructure (APII) Technology Center

With the aim of achieving a leading role in the establishment of the Asia-Pacific information infrastructure, the APII Technology Center has been constructed in Kobe City. To respond appropriately to the globalization of information and communications, there is a need to establish an information infrastructure that crosses national boundaries, while giving full consideration to social and cultural diversity, as well as different levels of economic and technological development in the Asia-Pacific region.

International joint research and experiments on a multimedia information network are being planned. The goal is to conduct remote joint research and distance learning activities and to establish telemedicine, teleshopping, and an electronic museum.

To construct the APII and to promote its use, an environment is needed in which as many countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific as possible can participate.

The APII Technology Center offers group technical training courses on multimedia information communications technology to engineers from the Asia-Pacific region. The topics in the technical training program consist of "Trend of Multimedia Information Technology," "Internet Utilization Technology," "VOD Application Techniques," and "Cyber Space Application Techniques".

The APII Technology Center has been built in the Nishi Ward of Kobe City by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. This facility offers various services, including Internet, cyber-space and video on demand, which are provided using an ATM-LAN. The facility carries out joint development of applications and network interconnection technologies, and is used for training technicians.

With regard to this facility, at the APEC informal meeting of heads of government held in Manila in November, 1996, Prime Minister Hashimoto called for, among other things, various kinds of experiments and training to be undertaken that would make use of this facility. The facility is considered as a test-bed, moving towards becoming a nucleus in the Asian-Pacific information and communications infrastructure (APII). The facility is contained in a two story, 600 square meter building.

In addition to the ATM-LAN, which has been installed as a local area network facility, plans call for connection to external experimental facilities via N-ISDN and high speed private lines. As of Summer 1997, it was connected to external networks with six N-ISDN lines, and is connected to Tokyo via a 45 Mbps high speed private line.


Kansai Advanced Research Center has excellent facilities and human resources to perform advanced research in several multi-disciplinary areas. The topics of investigations are at the cutting edge but at the same time are focused to produce results. The impact of KARC's activities goes beyond advancing the frontiers of communication technologies. The work conducted at this center is published in international journals, and researchers from other countries perform their research as visiting scholars.

Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian