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 Kiyotaka Kawashima, executive officer at DIC Corp. (TYO:4631) and general manager of the company’s R&D Management Unit.
In discussing DIC’s priority areas for R&D, Kawashima first pointed to electronics, where the company is working with U.S.-based Nanosys Inc. to develop ink for use in the production of quantum dot color filters. As one example here, he said, these efforts have seen the development of a quantum dot-containing inkjet ink that appears red or green when subjected to light from a blue LED. The result is that blue LEDs can be used as a light source, he explained, helping with energy conservation.
In the area of health care, Kawashima said that DIC is continuing to develop spirulina algae, sometimes called the “king of superfoods,” as a functional commodity. This is also seeing the company move forward with efforts for its Linablue brand of natural blue food coloring derived from spirulina, he noted.
On the topic of inorganic materials, Kawashima mentioned how DIC is conducting research into products for lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) – such as electrode materials and thermally conductive filler.
And in life sciences, Kawashima said, DIC is making strides with development for the likes of cell culture media, as well as coating agents for artificial kidneys. Both of these are almost ready for commercialization, he noted.
What is important in R&D, Kawashima said, is to combine a sense of speed with the use of core technologies in an effective manner. And so it is crucial, he continued, to pursue open innovation by working with universities and other companies in joint development efforts – the result of this being that DIC can enter into new markets without delay.
Kawashima then commented on materials informatics (MI), which uses the likes of AI and big data analysis to help in materials development. Recent years, he noted, have seen accuracy improve in certain conditions when it comes to forward problems, which begin with raw materials and try to predict what they can create.
But the largest problem in the field, Kawashima said, is that inverse problems remain difficult – these being the task of beginning with a target product and trying to predict the raw materials needed to create it. DIC is considering efforts that would see it team up with universities and other organizations to gain additional expertise here, he said.