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updated on March 18, 2019

Electro-conductive zinc oxide powder with nano-level uniformity, using reliable and safe materials which allow accurate control of doping concentration

HakusuiTech Co., Ltd.

Project name Development of technologies for producing low-oxygen impurity-doped zinc oxide based powder for sputtering films
Target downstream fields Automobile、Energy、Housing / Infrastructure、Other(display)
Response to the needs of downstream companies High function (improved precision / performance)
Mass reduction (size / weight reduction)
Optimization (improved productivity / work efficiency)
Environmental considerations (removal and detoxification of impurities / waste reduction / CO2 reduction)
Cost reduction (running cost reduction / loss elimination / labor saving)
Specific numerical values relating to the above needs 70% cost reduction, 20% weight reduction, and 200-fold improvement of work environment safety in comparison with the existing material, ITO (indium tin oxide)
Project implementation period 2010
Commercialization status Undergoing supplementary research (Project undergoing research toward completion)
Target materials Zinc oxide, aluminum oxide, gallium oxide, powder and ceramics

Project details

Project background
In recent years, there has been increasing demand for transparent conductive films, as a result of applications to products including transparent electrodes for flat-panel displays (FPD), touchscreens, thin film solar cells, heat reflecting film for eco-friendly glass windows, etc. As a result of a comprehensive study of resources, environmental problems, film characteristics, film production costs and materials costs, it has been concluded that an impurity-doped zinc oxide (ZnO-based) for magnetron sputtering is the most suitable material. An ZnO-based transparent conductive film which is low cost, non-toxic, and does not pose resourcing problems, will have many advantages. However, it will require more advanced technologies to produce compared with other materials, and also the development of technologies to produce low-oxygen impurity-doped zinc oxide based powder.
Points of R&D
To realize practical application of the transparent conductive film, the development of impurity-doped ZnO sintered targets which can be applied to the production of oxidation restraint type magnetron sputtering films is required. Under the present conditions, due to an excess level of oxygen, it is difficult to achieve the desired performance from sintered targets which can be produced with the powdered materials currently available. Therefore, it is necessary to dope a donor impurity to the powdered ZnO base material, and develop technologies to produce low-oxygen impurity-doped zinc oxide based powder which realize control of stoichiometric composition ratio.
Specific R&D results
We developed an Al-doped zinc oxide based powder which achieved 10%-or-more reduction in oxygen compared with conventional products, and as a result of performing sputtering with the powder, resistivity distribution inside the film was successfully reduced by approximately 1/3 in comparison with the distribution when using conventional powder. The produced AZO film was able to achieve high transparencies of above 90% in the visible to near-infrared range. In addition, measuring the sintering behavior of individual powders provided understanding of appropriate sintering conditions. The target resistivity of 5 x 10-4 Ω cm was achieved with a 6-inch-diameter AZO sintered target during test production.
Anticipated fields / products etc. to which this technology may be applied in the future
Intended uses of transparent conductive film:
Flat-panel displays (FPD)
Touchscreens
Transparent electrodes for thin-film solar cells
Heat reflecting films for eco-friendly glass windows, etc.

Work toward commercialization

Activities related to intellectual property and publicity Intellect property: a basic patent for the powder (Patent No. 4393460)
PR activity:
Exhibitions: (1) Chubu Basic Manufacturing Technology Exhibition (held in February 2013 at Fukiage Hall)
(2) TECH Biz EXPO 2013 (held in October 2013 at Portmesse Nagoya)
Publications: "Developments of Transparent Conductive Films IV" (co-authored) published by CMC Publishing Co., Ltd. in 2012
Lectures given at seminars: (1) "Applying thermal barrier properties to film coating materials", at a seminar organized by Technical Information Institute Co. Ltd. in March 2013. (2) "Reflex mechanism of the thermal barrier filler and pigment and examples of application" at a seminar organized by Technical Information Institute Co. Ltd. in November 2013.
Future outlook Although the demand for liquid crystal display panels is decreasing while the demand for smartphones and tablet computers is increasing, a move to replace ITO transparent electrodes is not seen. Thin film solar cells, which are a promising application of this project, were the center of attention in the solar power generation industry due to their cost advantage. However, in recent years their market share has been dropping owing to the fact that the price of crystalline silicon based modules has fallen substantially as a result of excessive supply. Business in 2012 was significantly slow, but recovery is anticipated from next year. Hopefully, applications will expand into heat shielding eco-glass.
Level of achievement based on the original goal, and new challenges It has been discovered that indium oxide based materials, which compete with zinc oxide based materials use in transparent conductive films, have a safety problem. Upon this discovery, some of the orders and regulations imposed by Industrial Health and Safety Law were revised. Since the revisions' coming into effect on January 1, 2013, management of indium compounds as Specified Chemical Substances is required. It is believed that expectations toward zinc oxide based materials as reliable and safe materials to use will increase in the future.

System of R&D

Organization managing the project Gifu Economic and Industrial Promotion Center
Certified business operators HakusuiTech Co., Ltd.
Institutions conducting the research Kanazawa Institute of Technology Optoelectronic
Device System Research & Development Center
HakusuiTech Co., Ltd. Chufun Creature Operation Division

Promotion comments

Corporate philosophy: "To become a professional company which is needed by its clients, and to contribute to realizing the circulation of happiness throughout society"

It is the 67th anniversary of the foundation our company, and we have been able to continue producing zinc oxide thanks to the support we receive from all of you. Through our factories in Japan, China and Thailand, we promise steady production supply.
Zinc oxide has a great deal of functions. Particularly, its market has been expanding recently in applications to heat radiation materials with high thermal conductivity, and transparent conductive films and thermal barriers to replace ITO. In addition, new applications of its semiconductor characteristics are also expected. We are continuing to work on research and development as an all-round manufacturer of zinc oxide for all applications.

Corporate information

Company name HakusuiTech Co., Ltd.
(Corporate Number:1120001068908)
Address 2-9-7 Toyosaki, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, 531-0072, JAPAN
Phone number +81-6-6373-0231
Number of employees 49(male  42,female  7)
Capital 84.4million yen
Business category Chemical industry
Business content Production and sales of zinc oxide powder, zinc dust and zirconium silicate powder, and contracted manufacture of various inorganic powders
URL http://www.hakusui.co.jp
Production facilities owned and specifications Zinc oxide powder production facility, zinc dust production facility, zirconium silicate powder production facility
Production base area Domestic location:169-2 Sogi-cho, Toki-shi, Gifu-ken; 669 Yokota, Iizuka-shi, Fukuoka-ken
Overseas location:China: Zhenjiang-city, Jiangsu-Province; Thailand: Amata city, Rayong
Overseas production response Not available
Main clients Bridgestone Corporation, Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., Chugoku Marine Paints, Ltd., Dai Nippon Toryo Co., Ltd., Kansai Paint Co,. Ltd., Nippon Paint Co., Ltd., TOTO, LTD., LIXIL Corporation, Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha, Ltd.
Department handling inquiries for this project Chufun Creature Operation Division

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