The Chemical Daily recently conducted a round of interviews with the heads of R&D divisions of major Japanese chemical companies. For this installment, we talked with Hisao Nishimura, director and managing executive officer at Daicel Corp. (TYO:4202) and general manager of the company’s R&D headquarters.
Nishimura said that Daicel’s R&D division is striving to create new businesses, going about this by focusing on five prospective new business units.
The first of these is the medical and health care sector, Nishimura said. Here, he explained, Daicel is moving forward with R&D and product adoption efforts centered around chiral technologies, new devices for administering medicine, pre-mix additives to help pills dissolve inside the mouth and functional food materials such as soybean-derived equol. Further, he said, acquiring Lomapharm GmbH – a German-based contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) – has allowed Daicel to market offerings in the sector right from the stage of pharmaceutical design and production.
Elsewhere, Nishimura noted, Daicel is looking at new business prospects in the cosmetics sector. As part of this, the company has seen some level of take-up for an oil-based amphiphilic agent able to dissolve in both oil and water for cleaning applications, he said.
Then in the functional film sector, Nishimura said that Daicel has recently found increasing adoption for its products in the likes of automotive displays – which are trending toward higher detail and larger screens – and tablets for IT-based education. The company is also rolling out its products here for use in next-gen flexible displays, he said.
Nishimura then moved to discuss Daicel’s prospective business unit for electronic materials, noting here that the company is expanding its lineup of argon fluoride (ArF) resist polymers for semiconductor use. Daicel has also gotten up to full speed with its development of materials for 3D packaging, he said. And with regard to printed electronics, Nishimura mentioned that this January saw Daicel start operations at new mass production facilities for silver nano ink.
The last of Daicel’s five prospective business units is the optical parts sector, where Nishimura said that Daicel is working on lens products created by combining precise molding technologies with proprietary UV- or heat-curable materials. He noted that the company has established a base in Taiwan for the design, development and sales of such products, and that it is working to capture cutting-edge needs in the market while working closely with customers on development.
Nishimura then gave insight into Daicel’s search for new areas of focus beyond these five prospective business units. With regard to energy and the environment, he said, the company is working on materials development for next-gen solar cells, lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) and fuel cells. Products here are progressing through evaluations with some of Daicel’s customers, he revealed.
Daicel also sees potential in the area of inorganic materials, an area in which the company is developing ultradispersed nanodiamonds at a size of less than 10 nanometers, Nishimura said. Customer evaluation efforts are moving forward here, he added, coming with a focus on scratch resistance and smoothness.