Dr Akira Yoshino, a Fellow at Asahi Chemical Company gives the 14th Sakaki Prestige Lecture on the birth of lithium ion batteries
22 Jul 2011
On July 8th, the 14th Sakaki Prestige Lecture was held, co-sponsored by the "Tailor Made Baton Zone educational program--Special lecture on Integrated Fields (No.2)", in Lecture Room A2-201.
In this lecture, Dr. Akira Yoshino, a Fellow at the Asahi Chemical Company and internationally renowned for his research on lithium ion batteries, spoke on the topic of the "Secrets of Success in Research and Development based on Experiences with Lithium ion Batteries"
Dr. Yoshino first explained the background of the development of the lithium ion battery, right from the beginning of research to until eventual commercialization. The basic-research phase, the development phase, and the commercialization phase took five years each, i.e. a total of 15 years was required for the successful research and development of lithium ion secondary batteries. He explained how the introduction of polyacetylene, as developed by Dr. Hideki Shirakawa, was the beginning of the research.
Furthermore, he spoke about how an experiment to confirm the safety and stability of the potentially-unstable lithium using carbon materials was a big step towards the successful outcome of the project. He emphasized that some of the most important characteristics of research and development activities for business enterprises are: a) verification of the research and development processes (no crucial faults); and b) the importance of the issue of intellectual property.
He described how a key component of the business creation process was conversations with potential customers. They conducted experiments to confirm the safety of the batteries, and were told about an "IT world" in which the lithium ion battery would play an important role. Dr. Yoshino also discussed the advent of the "wireless era", essential to the so-called "communication of the future".
In conclusion, as a message to students who intend to carry out research, Dr. Yoshino discussed the importance of being aware of signals that point to future changes in society and in industry. For instance, comparisons could be made to determine similarities in social background between 1995, which was when the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake occurred and was also the first year of the IT revolution, and in 2011, when the East Japan earthquake broke.
A Super-Leader tutorial entitled, "Talk with the Top" was held after the lecture. Twelve students who are currently in the "Tailor Made Baton Zone educational program" talked with Mr. Yoshino in the President's Room. Dr. Yoshino advised the students on the "Balance of optimism (carefree abandon) and consistency" and the "Necessity for intercommunication between different fields and different cultures".