Hiroshima University Research Center
for Nanoparticle Synthesis and Its Application


INTRODUCTION
Ultrafine particles or nanoparticles (sizes between a few nm to 100 nm) are of interest, because the chemical and physical behavior of the particles are unprecedented and remarkably different from those in bulk form. They have great potential for use in applications in the electronic, chemical and mechanical industries, as well as in the related technologies using catalysts, drug carriers, sensors, pigments, also as well as in magnetic, structural and electronic materials.

It is well known that using unagglomerated particles with narrow size distribution is the preferred state for applications and technologies, especially for compacting or sintering particles. Large number techniques for the preparations of nanoparticles that satisfy this requirement have been developed via gas and liquid phase routes. It is important to develop this synthesis method, in which particles having controlled characteristics including size, size distribution, morphology, agglomeration, and composition, can be produced. To be industrially relevant, the process needs to be low-cost and involve both continuous operation and a high production rate.

In the second 5-year Basic Science and Technology Plan, the Government of Japan, mainly through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has prioritized areas of research and development that address the critical needs of the nation. The four highest priority areas are Life Sciences, Information Communication, Environment, and Nanotechnology & Materials. In the fiscal year of 2002, 75 billion yen was allocated for R&D in Nanotechnology and Materials. The Nanotechnology Particle Project (2001-2005, with K. Okuyama as project director and Y. Yamaguchi of Univ. of Tokyo as deputy director) is being conducted as a part of the "Nanotechnology Materials Program" funded by the METI through the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

The importance of cutting-edge nanotechnology was highlighted in 1991, when the Japanese government through MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry, currently METI) announced two 10-year programs: the Atom Technology Project and the Quantum Functional Devices Project. Indeed, Japan is advancing in some important areas of nanotechnology, as well as that of the nanoparticle (an example of a successful program previously was the Hayashi Ultra-Fine Particle Project, 1981-1986). Japan has produced a number of pioneers in these fields for quite some time, now.