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 Masaaki Yamaya, General Manager of the Research & Development Department at Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd. (TYO:4063).
Domestically, the Research & Development Department has responsibility for nine research centers across the Shin-Etsu Group, Yamaya said. The group’s overseas research capacity is then particularly focused on silicone, he noted, with laboratory-standard research centers in the U.S., Europe, Taiwan and South Korea. Shin-Etsu also has a cellulose research center in Germany, he added.
In the energy field, Yamaya said that Shin-Etsu is focusing its efforts on silicon-based anode materials for lithium-ion batteries (LiBs), noting that the market here is expanding as electric vehicles (EVs) become increasingly prevalent. Remarking on the need to increase battery capacity to ensure that EVs have a reasonable range, he stated that Shin-Etsu has used silicon oxide (SiO) materials to help create high-capacity batteries. And the company is continuing to make further improvements to cycle characteristics, he said, in an effort to keep the number of charge cycles high.
Yamaya also highlighted the semiconductor field as one in which his company is developing a wide range of products. In the area of 3D implementation, he said, Shin-Etsu is aiming to commercialize insulation material for rewiring as well as encapsulants with low warp and bow. Turning to power devices, Yamaya disclosed that the company is working on the development of next-generation substrate materials that offer outstanding voltage endurance and heat resistance. With cost and performance being important considerations in the development of new substrate materials, he said, Shin-Etsu has adopted a team-based approach in this area.
In the communications sector, Shin-Etsu has formed a cross-divisional organization that has already begun R&D in preparation for the imminent spread of 5G mobile communications, Yamaya said.
And in the health care arena, Yamaya noted cosmetics as a key focus for Shin-Etsu’s existing silicone business. The company also supplies silicone for use in contact lens material, he added. Rounding off the interview by looking at Shin-Etsu’s existing business for cellulose derivatives, Yamaya said that these materials have been widely adopted for use in the pharmaceuticals sector as tablet coatings.