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Product Case Studies

Yoshimichi Namai Lead researcher, Ph.D. (Science)
Analysis Unit, Material Properties Research Laboratory Mitsui Chemical Analysis & Consulting Service, Inc.
MOVIE
Surface observations /
Structural analysis

Yoshimichi Namai (Lead researcher, Ph.D. (Science) Analysis Unit, Material Properties Research Laboratory Mitsui Chemical Analysis & Consulting Service, Inc.)

Product name: AFM5300E

Performing root cause analysis of faults in polymer-based products, etc.

Our company specializes in evaluation of polymer materials such as plastics. For example, we perform root cause analysis of faults such as products requested from customers by performing a set of comprehensive analyses such as analysis of mechanical properties such as tensile tests and bending tests, composition analysis such as of components, and structural observation of microscopic regions.
Among these, my division performs physical evaluation of material properties of microscopic regions from the microscale to the nanoscale, for example, by performing evaluation of the distribution of particle diameters and pores, or molecular mobility (ease of moving) of bulk polymers.

Discovery of new applications to expand the services of our company

When we were asked by a customer “whether we could explain the cause when surface protection tape could not be peeled off cleanly but left residual adhesive”, we were able to explain the cause by using a Hitachi AFM that our company already owned, and this was the first trigger for introducing the AFM5300E. When the temperature dependence of the surface protection tape was measured using the frictional force measurement mode, it was found that extremely mobile components existed on the surface of tape where the residual adhesive occurred. Although AFM is often generally used for viewing surface morphology, it was found to be able to evaluate the molecular mobility of polymer surface and usable for root cause analysis of faults. Furthermore, I was involved in AFM research at my university before joining the company, and I found that I could utilize my knowledge from that time to develop evaluation of hydrophilic and hydrophobic character by chemically modifying the AFM probe. This kind of evaluation of surface properties using SPM was proposed to customers as one of the services of our company from around 5 years ago. Although it initially did not gain much penetration, the awareness grew gradually, and the second unit that we introduced in 2015 as a result was the AFM5300E.
The deciding factor for introduction was the environmental control of the AFM5300E. It continues to have the functions from the past, but also includes new functions from Hitachi to meet the new demands of our company, such as atmospheric non-exposure measurement for analyzing batteries in particular and humidity control.

Utilization of various functions

Recently, force curve mapping measurement has become possible with the AFM5300E. In the evaluation of polymer alloy which has a sea-island structure, the local elasticity distribution can be evaluated by force curve mapping. Furthermore, since the AFM5300E can also change the temperature, it is possible to observe how the elasticity of the surface changes with temperature. I think that this is an extremely useful indicator.
In fact, evaluation of surface properties with SPM is positioned at our company as the last stronghold when no differences are observed from other methods. For example, I think there are often some properties that are different even though no differences can be observed by performing various analyses such as IR, and this is often resolved by using this kind of evaluation method. Our company proposes and performs analysis methods to handle the problems facing our customers. These analysis results are sometimes applied such as to improve manufacturing processes by the customers to achieve commercialization, and I feel this is very rewarding.

Expectations for further functions in the future

I think that the temperature sweep has strong advantages and the temperature sweep function of Hitachi is extremely useful, and hope that technical development will continue. Although elasticity can currently be measured as temperature changes, I expect the development of a function that allows automation of evaluation while the temperature changes.

Note: The video introduces examples of actual measurement and examples of evaluation using observed images. Please view these together.

Professor Shigeo Murata, PhD (Medicine) Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the University of Tokyo Director, One-stop Sharing Facility Center for Future Drug Discoveries, the University of Tokyo Professor Masaru Kato, PhD (Pharmacology)  Division of Bioanalytical Chemistry School of Pharmacy Showa University Former Visiting Assistant Professor, One-stop Sharing Facility Center for Future Drug Discoveries, the University of Tokyo
MOVIE
Surface observations /
Structural analysis

Professor Shigeo Murata, PhD (Medicine)
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the University of Tokyo
Director, One-stop Sharing Facility Center for Future Drug Discoveries, the University of Tokyo

Professor Masaru Kato, PhD (Pharmacology)
Division of Bioanalytical Chemistry
School of Pharmacy Showa University Former Visiting Assistant Professor, One-stop Sharing Facility Center for Future Drug Discoveries, the University of Tokyo

Product name: Fluorescence Spectrophotometer F-7100, High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph Chromaster® 5610 MS Detector

Professor Shigeo Murata

Professor Shigeo Murata

An overview of the One-Stop Sharing Facility Center for Future Drug Discoveries (hereafter the Center), and how it came to be established

Before the Center was established, each laboratory was responsible for purchasing, operating, and maintaining the extremely expensive instruments needed to conduct research. But it’s inefficient for multiple laboratories to own the same instruments, and maintaining these instruments is a considerable burden. So there was a lot of motivation among the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to improve efficiency by allowing everybody to use these instruments, and the idea of gathering all the instruments in a single common location was the original impetus for establishing the Center.
Another factor was that it’s hard for younger researchers to secure the budget for large expenditures—in other words, it’s hard for them to buy large instruments. We wanted younger researchers to be able to use such instruments to advance their own research, and this was another reason we were eager to establish a shared research facility.
Since the Center was established, we’ve equipped it with a collection of cutting-edge instruments in three areas: elemental analysis and mass analysis, structural analysis, and biofunctional analysis.

The objectives of the Center

When the Center was first established, its objective was simply to promote research within our Faculty. However, we were selected by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as one of their Projects to Promote the Shared Use of Advanced Research Platforms in Fiscal Year 2016. The Project also encouraged the sharing of instruments with the industrial world, with the goal of improving Japan’s scientific and technological capabilities. Thus, our primary objectives are to ensure that the research coming out of our Faculty remains cutting-edge, and to give our young researchers the opportunity to use the shared facilities to conduct their research. At the same time, we have begun sharing our facilities with other departments, other universities, and the industrial world.
Today, by attracting researchers from all of these different institutions, we’ve created a space to facilitate research collaborations between researchers in different fields—and between researchers in academia and industry.
Thus, as we continue to advance the original goals that motivated the Center’s founding—including (1) discovering seeds for developing new drugs to address national diseases and other difficult-to-treat diseases for which no effective treatment has yet been developed, and (2) advancing the state of preventative medicine by developing technologies for diagnosing illnesses—we aspire also to promote this facility as a platform for new drug discovery research, establishing collaborations between different fields and between academia and industry, as well as cultivating human resources.

The Center’s role in facilitating interaction among researchers

In practice, our facility is frequently used by researchers—especially from startup companies—whose institutions are not yet equipped with these instruments. The Center and our Faculty also advise users on setting measurement conditions and using them to make measurements, which helps to expand the range of interaction among researchers. We feel like we’re making steady progress toward our objectives.
Originally, the field of pharmacology lies at the intersection of three fields—physics, chemistry, and biology—and in that sense the Center is equipped with instruments that span the full range of these three fields. We call ourselves the “One-stop Sharing Facility Center for Future Drug Discoveries” because we offer the full range of instruments needed for drug-discovery research in a single location—so researchers can accomplish everything they need for their research by making just one stop at our facility.
Paying us a visit gives researchers a chance not only to advance their drug-discovery research, but also to interact with other researchers from a variety of fields. We are hopeful that the shared use of instruments—including the Hitachi Convenience Lab—will stimulate further research advances.

Professor Masaru Kato

Professor Masaru Kato

Research topics and instruments used

The goal of my research is to use nanomaterials to make measurements of the microscopic constituents of a variety of living organisms. More recently, I’ve been investigating the structure and quantity of somewhat larger substances—well, I say “larger,” but we’re still talking about nanomaterials with sizes on the order of 100 nanometers—to determine whether or not they can be used safely. The goal of this research is to develop characterization methods. In this research, I make use of the LC-MS and fluorescence spectrophotometer instruments installed in the Hitachi Convenience Lab. I’ve also been involved in a number of other research projects, including studies based on fluorescent fingerprinting (F-7000)—an application of fluorescence spectrophotometry—and efforts to characterize the impact on cells of the active pharmacological agents contained in nanomedicines.

How the Center enables the progress of research

I was involved in establishing and operating the One-stop Sharing Facility Center for Future Drug Discoveries during my time as a researcher at the Faculty, and I continue to be a user of the facility. The goals of our work as researchers—understanding biological phenomena and elucidating the nature of diseases—involve analyses that require a wide variety of instruments, something that is just not possible to do within a single laboratory. I think we’ve entered an era in which life science simply can’t survive unless facilities with instruments shared among entire Faculty—or throughout the university —are established and used extensively. I think these sorts of initiatives should be initiated all across Japan.
In addition to making maximally efficient use of limited research funding, these facilities allow researchers from different backgrounds to interact, advancing the state of research and creating new possibilities. We are grateful to Hitachi High-Tech Science for kindly supporting the goals of the Center and for establishing the Hitachi Convenience Lab.

Working with the Hitachi Convenience Lab

The Hitachi Convenience Lab, a shared platform facility for advanced research, was established within the Center in 2017, and has been operated jointly ever since. This new facility augments the Center’s existing collection of instruments by two instruments from Hitachi High-Tech Science Corporation— Fluorescence Spectrophotometer F-7100 and High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph Chromaster® 5610 MS Detector—as well as the multivariate analysis software 3D SpectAlyze®, which supports multivariate analysis for many types of analytical data.

The advantages of using the instruments in the Hitachi Convenience Lab

I’ve been a user of Hitachi High-Tech Science’s products for many years, and I really appreciate the ability to get immediate assistance whenever anything goes wrong—both technical support and application support respond very quickly.
The instruments in our shared facility are frequently used by students who are using them for the first time, or by other users with no experience—and I have the sense that instruments from Hitachi High-Tech Science are solidly constructed and user-friendly, so we don’t need to worry about inexperienced operators.
There are many things that can’t be done by universities alone. I feel that analytical methods are the fundamental basis of chemistry, and I think the opportunity for instrument manufacturers to collaborate with universities on research projects is beneficial to both sides.

What can Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation do to assist your research?

First of all, I am hopeful that Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation will continue contributing to the world by producing high-quality instruments! As for my own personal wishes, my current research makes use of fluorescent fingerprinting, in which each individual measurement produces several thousand pieces of data. I am hoping to develop—with assistance from Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation—a methodology for identifying effective candidates among these data.

Dr. Toshiaki Furuta (Professor, Faculty of Science, Department of Biomolecular Science Toho University)
MOVIE
Spectroscopic analysis
Mass spectrometry

Dr. Toshiaki Furuta (Professor, Faculty of Science, Department of Biomolecular Science Toho University)

Product name: High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph Chromaster® 5610 MS Detector

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【Chinese ver.】

We want to use our knowledge of chemistry to create useful tools for the life sciences

My personal specialty is synthetic organic chemistry, and I do research in the field of chemical biology. Our laboratory develops experimental methods in which light is used to manipulate interactions among molecules that mediate information-related processes within or between cells in living organisms; our goal is to contribute to advances in basic research in the life sciences. More specifically, we make use of caged compounds. These are compounds that work by attaching optically sensitive protective groups to a biologically active molecule, thus “trapping” or “caging” the molecule and temporarily suppressing its biological activity—but allowing that activity to be restored momentarily via light irradiation. In other words, we attach optical switches to molecules to allow them to be turned on with light. To date, a number of caged compounds have been developed for practical use, but they tend to suffer from various drawbacks—such as low generality, inefficient optical response, slow reaction speed, and toxicity—and we are conducting research projects with a variety of collaborators in the hope of solving these problems. We start by chatting with our collaborators to understand their needs and propose compounds to address them, and then we design and synthesize new compounds with the necessary functionality, test whether or not they actually function as desired in cell cultures, and finally provide them to our collaborators for use in their research.

Our new tools are helpful for sustaining student morale

For LC-MS, in the past we used shared facilities at our university, but the operating procedures were complicated, and maintenance was a hassle—on top of which, my own techniques for using the equipment were probably a little rough around the edges—and the result was that, to be perfectly honest, people avoided making measurements whenever possible. On other hand, at this point it’s been just about a year since we installed the Chromaster 5610, and we’ve yet to encounter a single problem—we’re grateful that the machine is so straightforward to use. The undergraduates and graduate students in our lab use it as well, and they can generally get started making measurements after just two or three tutorial sessions. They are always figuring out how to use the newest features—at this point they’re probably more knowledgeable than I am. From what I’ve heard, the fact that students can check their results themselves seems to be a key factor in sustaining their motivation. Most of the caged compounds we’ve developed include bromine atoms, which exhibit a characteristic MS peak. Recently, one of our graduate students was able to use MS and NMR in tandem to determine the structure of a compound with greater accuracy, which meant the student could transition immediately to testing the compound in cell cultures.

Our new tools are helpful for sustaining student morale

For LC-MS, in the past we used shared facilities at our university, but the operating procedures were complicated, and maintenance was a hassle—on top of which, my own techniques for using the equipment were probably a little rough around the edges—and the result was that, to be perfectly honest, people avoided making measurements whenever possible. On other hand, at this point it’s been just about a year since we installed the Chromaster 5610, and we’ve yet to encounter a single problem—we’re grateful that the machine is so straightforward to use. The undergraduates and graduate students in our lab use it as well, and they can generally get started making measurements after just two or three tutorial sessions. They are always figuring out how to use the newest features—at this point they’re probably more knowledgeable than I am. From what I’ve heard, the fact that students can check their results themselves seems to be a key factor in sustaining their motivation. Most of the caged compounds we’ve developed include bromine atoms, which exhibit a characteristic MS peak. Recently, one of our graduate students was able to use MS and NMR in tandem to determine the structure of a compound with greater accuracy, which meant the student could transition immediately to testing the compound in cell cultures.

A sales representative we can trust

In our lab, we started by installing the HPLC and the autosampler, then added the MS and gradually expanded the range of our instrumentation. I think that high degree of expansion potential was a key factor motivating my decision to go with Hitachi. Another huge factor was that our sales representative turned out to be somebody we could really trust. Of course, the more instruments we have the better, but we have to consider our equipment budget, lab space, operating costs, and many other factors. Not only does our sales representative get back to us quickly whenever we have questions, but from the very beginning I had the sense that what we were hearing was the unvarnished truth, which makes me feel that I can trust our discussions.

Friendly competition with rivals produces better platform technologies

The fact that I have been able to make progress in my current field of research is due in large part to Roger Y. Tsien, my beloved mentor during my study abroad. Dr. Tsien was instrumental in spreading awareness of the usefulness of green fluorescent protein, for which he shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Dr. Osamu Shimomura.
I think it’s beautiful when tools that make the impossible possible are constructed on the basis of chemical knowledge and intuition. Research in the life sciences spans a huge range, from the molecules that comprise cells all the way up to the complexities of human biology. Basic research encompasses both efforts to determine the fundamental frameworks underlying biological phenomena—the origins of life, the workings of the brain, the immune system—and work aspiring to triumph over disease, for example by elucidating the mechanisms of cancer. Even researchers pursuing different subjects in different fields often turn out to need the same platform technologies. Our mission is to create technologies that change the very ways in which research—in many different areas of the life sciences—is done. We hope that, as other researchers use the methods we develop in our lab, they will add their own clever new tricks and expand the range of applicability.
We often deliver lectures to researchers in similar fields on experimental methods that we’ve developed using equipment installed in our labs. Even though researchers in other labs might technically be considered competitors, this sort of thing happens all the time among people working on technology development, and it often serves as a stimulus to develop new molecules beyond anything we could have imagined ourselves—which of course just motivates us to push our research even further.

Dr. Ryuji Uchida (Professor Laboratory for the Chemistry of Naturally-Occurring Substances Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University)
MOVIE
Separation analysis
Mass spectrometry

Dr. Ryuji Uchida (Professor Laboratory for the Chemistry of Naturally-Occurring Substances Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University)

Product name: High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph Chromaster® 5610 MS Detector

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【Chinese ver.】

Toward comprehensive analysis of natural resources

Our specialty is the chemistry of naturally occurring substances, and at present we are searching for compounds in naturally occurring substances—both land-based and marine substances—that exhibit biological activity, such as antibiotic or anti-cancer properties. The range of substances we analyze is extremely broad—from soil samples, to marine organisms, plants, and mushrooms (fungi)—and in the past our main problem was figuring out how to determine, relatively easily and at the earliest possible stage, whether or not a given substance will produce useful new compounds. However, for comprehensive analyses using liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer (LC-MS) techniques, measurements always require a certain amount of time, and conventional LC-MS instruments were rather delicate—so much so that, whenever we tried to analyze an unpurified sample, something or other would go wrong almost immediately, and we eventually had to abandon that approach.

A solid, durable instrument—that boasts easy maintenance

For precisely these reasons, the efficiency of our research has ticked up dramatically since we installed Hitachi’s Chromaster® 5610 mass detector, which allows us to analyze culture solutions as is, prior to component separation. Another advantage of this instrument is that its maintenance is so simple that it doesn’t even require tools. I’m delighted to see that my graduate students are able to use the instrument to conduct experimental analyses with ease. In fact, we don’t even clean the instrument all that frequently, but somehow it never seems to lose sensitivity. Thanks to our ability to carry out day-to-day maintenance operations ourselves, we haven’t had a single issue with the instrument in since we installed it around a year ago.
Back when the concept of the Chromaster®5610 was first explained to me, I had the sense that it would be extremely easy to use in our research. That intuition was completely confirmed the first time we had a chance to use the actual machine in practice. I’m very impressed by how thoroughly Hitachi has incorporated feedback and requests from researchers into the design of this instrument.

A trusted partner for analyzing compounds

Compared to the hardware, the software has some room for improvement, and we’re looking forward to an upgraded version that incorporates feedback from users. We’re also grateful for the various ways in which Hitachi works with us to support our research—customer support is always timely and thorough, and fluorescent fingerprints are a useful way to visualize the characteristics of culture solutions.
The goal of our research is to discover compounds exhibiting biological activity—such as antibiotic or anti-cancer properties—in natural resources, and to make these compounds available to the wider world. Of course, in the meantime, the reality is that the natural world continues to boast a wealth of resources that remain unexplored. Our next step is to organize the information we have acquired in the form of a database of compounds, and we’re hopeful that the Chromaster®5610 will help us to share our findings with many researchers in this field, spurring the progress of research through the sharing of information.

Prof. Hideko Nagasawa (Gifu Pharmaceutical University Laboratory of Medicinal & Pharmaceutical Chemistry Ph.D.)
MOVIE
Separation analysis
Mass spectrometry

Prof. Hideko Nagasawa (Gifu Pharmaceutical University Laboratory of Medicinal & Pharmaceutical Chemistry Ph.D.)

Product name: High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph Chromaster® 5610 MS Detector

【English ver.】

【Chinese ver.】

Taking on the challenge of developing new approaches to diagnosing and treating diseases

Our laboratory’s primary expertise is in pharmaceutical chemistry and chemical biology. At the moment, we’re particularly focused on developing new cancer drugs that target the survival environment for cancer cells. These drugs act not only on cancer cells themselves, but also address cellular adaptivity reactions in the survival environment specific to cancer cells, attempting to obstruct these as an indirect means of weakening cancer cells themselves. This differs from past approaches to treatment pharmacology, and we think it can lead to cancer treatments with fewer side effects.
We also study the creation of various types of functional molecules—from boron carrier molecules used in boron neutron capture treatments to fluorescent probe molecules that may help to diagnose diseases by detecting specific substances within living organisms—and we are hopeful that this work will spur advances in medicine and the life sciences.

Past problems with the operating environment for measurement instruments

Creating molecular compounds with desired functions is a multi-stage procedure that requires many repetitions of various processes: design, synthesis via chemical reaction, confirmation of the resulting compounds, refining, and characterization in actual reactions. In the past, we used TLC (thin-film chromatography) for tasks such as verifying synthesized compounds, but a problem in this method is that it is not very well-suited to studies of hydrophilic compounds, which we handle frequently. For observing reactions and making quantitative measurements of hydrophilic compounds, LC-MS (liquid chromatograph / mass spectrometer) is more appropriate, but in the past we only had access to our university’s shared-use LC-MS facility, which meant that we couldn’t simply use the instrument whenever we wanted, and when we did use it we would need to wait a long time to get results back.

Getting detailed information right then and there is a major advantage

We finally decided that we needed to improve our equipment installation to advance our research more effectively, and that was when we learned that there was a compact and easy-to-use LC-MS instrument known as the Chromaster®5610. We installed it around a year ago.
Like many university laboratories, our floor space is limited, so the Chromaster®5610 is perfect for our needs—it occupies about as much space as a conventional HPLC (high performance liquid chromatograph) machine and fits in our small laboratory space, but is nonetheless equipped with a MS. The primary users are around 20 students affiliated with our laboratory—from 4th-year undergraduates to graduate students—and we appreciate that the operation and maintenance of the instrument are so easy. We use the machine not only as an LC-MS instrument but also just as an MS, with applications including reaction monitoring for hydrophilic compounds, ultra-fine-scale reaction tracking, studying conditions for HPLC sampling, identifying compounds, and analyzing and quantifying rough products.
The fact that we can get detailed information and results for reactions right then, right there is a major advantage for studying synthesis of compounds. With students growing more and more ambitious in their research, at this point the Chromaster®5610 gets the most use of all the instruments in our laboratory. I definitely feel that installing the instrument was the right decision, and going forward we intend to use the Chromaster®5610 as much as possible to advance our research goals.

Shingo KANEHIRA (Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. Researcher Ph.D. (Engineering))
MOVIE
Surface observations /
Structural analysis

Shingo KANEHIRA (Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. Researcher Ph.D. (Engineering))

Product name: SU8000 series and AFM5500M

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【Chinese ver.】

Developing manufacturing processes that use microwaves—on a plant-wide scale

Our company was founded in 2007 as a venture spinoff from Osaka University; our mission is to provide microwave-based methods for making things on a plant-wide scale. In the past, conventional wisdom around the world held that manufacturing processes making use of microwaves are difficult to scale up to large sizes. We shattered this intuition in March 2014 by opening the world’s first large-scale microwave chemical plant—with annual production capacity of 3200t—at Suminoe, Osaka; this furnished real-world proof that microwaves could be used in a wide range of fields, from organic and inorganic synthesis to pharmaceutical production. Another example is graphene, a topic of current interest for which many different types of companies have growing development needs.

Using the instrument in quality testing for a new material of intense interest: graphene

Graphene is a new material whose excellent properties—extremely high electrical conductivity, transparency to visual light, extraordinary lightness and strength—make it promising for a wide range of applications, from devices to structural materials. In the past, the difficulty of mass production had been a stumbling block, but we established a method for producing graphene at volumes on the order of 10 g by applying our microwave chemical synthesis technology. Today we’re able to provide samples of adjustable thickness and weight in response to requests from our corporate clients.
Hitachi’s AFM5500M has been a crucial, irreplaceable tool for testing the quality of these samples. The AFM we were using previously, a university shared-use facility, was difficult to use—just configuring the settings took several hours. But with the AFM5500M things like cantilever switching and optical-axis adjustment are optimized automatically, so we can just focus on the measurements themselves. This is the greatest advantage of the instrument.

We’re hopeful that SÆMic solutions will enable more thorough analysis

Since we installed the AFM5500M, graphene height measurements have become dramatically faster, and the instrument’s automation features ensure that anyone can acquire data under identical conditions. Even if you make a mistake while using the instrument, all you have to do is follow the instructions on the screen to obtain error-free measurements. This makes the instrument extremely easy to use.
In the solutions stage of our work involving SÆMic with the SU8000 series and the AFM5500M, we perform two different types of measurements on the samples we synthesize: SEM imaging to characterize the morphology of the sample as a whole and analyze element distributions, and AFM measurements for close-up observations of Z-axis height or physical properties such as electrical conductivity. We’ve only just installed the new instrument, but we are hopeful that combining the two types of measurement will allow us to analyze our samples in even greater depth.

Ryoko YAMAKOSHI (Nicca Chemical Co., Ltd. Corporate Research Center Corporate Invention Research Department Deputy Chief, Analytical Laboratories)
MOVIE
Surface observations /
Structural analysis

Ryoko YAMAKOSHI (Nicca Chemical Co., Ltd. Corporate Research Center Corporate Invention Research Department Deputy Chief, Analytical Laboratories)

Product name: AFM5100N

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【Chinese ver.】

Make accurate measurements with a single click of the mouse—even if you’re not an expert

Our company is continually creating new technologies—rooted in our core strengths of interface science—targeting a wide range of applications. The impetus for us to adopt Real Tune II was the need to make nanoscale measurements spurred by the development of our Dia Lumie translucent projector screen. However, operating an AFM turned out to be quite difficult—as we had heard might be the case—and, after seeing some hands-on examples and participating demonstrations from various vendors, we concluded that AFM was not a technology we could ever hope to master, and we almost changed our mind regarding our decision to install the instrument.
This was the point at which the folks at Hitachi explained to us that there do exist instruments that are easier to use, and we arranged—still only half expecting anything to come of it—to observe a demonstration. The only word I can think of to describe our reaction the first time we laid hands on the Real Tune II would be shocked! As we clicked the Auto button on the console and watched the instrument proceed to make the measurement by itself, we started to think, “This is actually something we can use.”

The ease of using the instrument creates an ever-expanding breadth of applications

Originally, we used the instrument to observe the dispersion and condensation of nano-diamonds, but since then the range of things we do with the tool just seems to keep growing—from cross-sectional surfaces of hairs, to processed fibers, new materials, and data on films that can’t be observed via SEM. The reason we can use the system for such a broad spectrum of applications is that it automatically adjusts the measurement settings appropriately for each sample, making it extremely easy to use. We’ve also become quite familiar with the menus and windows. As far as resolution is concerned, it obtains images of the same quality as TEM images, which is more than adequate performance for our needs. Another key advantage is the ability to use the instrument in ambient conditions, allowing us to make measurements of samples close to their natural state.
We use SIS Mode to make measurements in cases requiring greater accuracy. Our company manufactures things like cosmetics, so it’s really convenient that we can make accurate measurements of samples with high water content.

Excellent customer support allows us to use the instrument with confidence

Before we installed this instrument, our company lacked AFM experience, so when we first started seeing images we didn’t even know if they had been measured correctly. At that point it was very reassuring that we could email our images to Hitachi support and receive helpful expert advice—such as “the probe might be experiencing friction.” We’re grateful for the extensive support framework that makes it easy to ask questions whenever there’s something—even something minor—that we don’t understand.

Koji KUNITOSHI (Nitto Analytical Techno-Center Co., Ltd. Solution Services Division Technology Development Group Chief Engineer)
MOVIE
Surface observations /
Structural analysis

Koji KUNITOSHI (Nitto Analytical Techno-Center Co., Ltd. Solution Services Division Technology Development Group Chief Engineer)

Product name: AFM5300E

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【Chinese ver.】

The ease of controlling environmental conditions was the decisive selling point for us

We’re a company that conducts morphological observations, surface analysis, composition analysis, and other types of measurements on a wide variety of organic and polymer materials. In particular, my group is currently responsible for scanning probe microscope techniques for surface analysis.
We installed the AFM5300E in 2010, and one of the major reasons we chose this instrument was the simple and easy environmental controls it offered. For companies like ours that accept requests for outsourced analytical work on a contractual basis, the fact that the AFM5300E allows analysis under all types of environmental conditions makes it extremely convenient, and in the 7 years since we acquired the instrument we’ve used it to characterize the physical properties of a huge variety of samples.

The fact that the customer support system allows us to ask our questions directly is very reassuring.

We’ve found the customer support system to be quite reliable.
For the most part, the AFM5300E is an instrument that rarely malfunctions—but we’re still grateful for the speedy and thoughtful response we’ve received in cases where we caused our own problems by using the instrument incorrectly. The fact that we can ask questions directly by e-mail or phone whenever we aren’t sure about something—that was one of the major reasons we decided to go with this model.
I previously learned the basics of AFM measurements from lectures at a Hitachi-organized seminar, and I still remember being struck by how thoroughly the presenters understood their subject. Ever since, I’ve continued to be impressed by the presentations at seminars and advanced courses pointing out an ever-broadening range of applications. Hitachi offers seminars and practical-training courses quite frequently, and we’re always encouraging our younger staff members to participate to broaden their skills. Of course, the only way to learn to use the instruments is actually to use them in practice, but Hitachi’s educational opportunities are excellent opportunities to entrench one’s understanding of the theoretical side of things.

SIS mode offers a whole new level of stability—even for samples that are difficult to measure

An attractive feature of SIS mode is that it allows stable, reliable measurements even for soft, sticky samples—and for extremely hard samples as well. For example, we’ve been able to study the surfaces of soft samples like dielectric polymers at high resolution with good accuracy. Also, for analyzing hybrid materials involving mixtures of components of varying hardnesses, conventional instruments always had problems with reproducibility, but SIS mode allows stable measurements every time. This is incredibly helpful.
For the clients who trust us to handle their contract analysis work, the absolute number-one requirement is reliable data. The fact that SIS mode always allows us to acquire stable data is a huge advantage. Another nice feature is that, because the probe tip is not dragged along the surface in SIS mode, the tip suffers only extremely minimal damage, helping to keep operating costs under control.