Tosoh Receives Technology Prize At 65th (2018) Okochi Memorial Foundation Awards


Tosoh Corporation was awarded the 65th (2018) Okochi Memorial Technology Prize from the Okochi Memorial Foundation for the adaptation for industrial use of and market establishment for high-strength zirconia.

The prize was awarded in recognition of Tosoh’s establishment of mass production technology that enabled the manufacture of stable, high-quality zirconia powder. This was accomplished by employing the hydrolysis method to investigate the synthesis mechanism of fine zirconia particles. Particularly noteworthy was Tosoh’s discovery of grain boundary segregation induced phase transformation, which overturned the established theory of sintered body microstructure. The Okochi Memorial Foundation highly evaluated Tosoh’s successful development of a new zirconia by overcoming degradation, an intrinsic weakness, thereby contributing significantly to the adaptation for industrial use and establishment of markets for high-strength zirconia.

High-strength zirconia, a member of the fine ceramic family, was first put to practical use in the 1980s. As suitable powder manufacturing technology had not yet been established at the time, and achieving consistent quality and mass production of the raw material powder was difficult. Moreover, degradation was pronounced in humid air at 150~400℃, or in hot water at temperatures greater than 100℃, limiting use to normal temperatures.

To address these challenges, Tosoh developed zirconia powder control technology and established an innovative hydrolysis process. This enabled the manufacture of high-strength and high-toughness zirconia powder characterised by high reliability through the significant control of degradation. In addition to grinding media, optical fiber connecting components, and various types of structural components, Tosoh has contributed to the advancement of market formation for high-strength zirconia by employing it in a wide variety of applications such as aesthetically superior dental material. Furthermore, this technology enables the manufacture of products of a variety of shapes and with wide-ranging control of colour and translucency. It is expected that applications for zirconia as a high-strength material will continue to expand into uses such as optical instruments, decorative applications, and portable device parts with superior tactility.

The Okochi Memorial Prize award commemorates the achievements of the late physicist Masatoshi Okochi. The Okochi Memorial Foundation, established for the purpose of promoting production engineering, is an authority that recognises outstanding achievements in Japan in production engineering, in the research and development of production technology, and in the implementation of advanced production methods. The Okochi Memorial Technology Prize was awarded to Tosoh for having achieved superior innovative research results in production engineering and production technology, and distinguished achievement contributing to academic progress and industrial development.

Inspired by the Okochi Memorial Technology Prize, Tosoh will continue its innovative R&D efforts.