The Prize Story

February '85: Breakthrough Time

"Somehow, a peak seems to have appeared." Tanaka reported at the weekly Monday team meeting on February 2nd, 1985, half a year after the project had started.
"REALLY?" was the excited exclamation from the other four members to Tanaka's calm announcement; however, this unexpectedly good news was not to be swallowed that easily.
At once, everyone took to examining the spectral data that Tanaka had produced. And however often they reproduced the measurements, the same spectral pattern appeared. It was just as Tanaka had reported, "a peak had appeared." The change of expression on the faces of his half-believing/half-doubting partners was instantaneous.
Development took on a lightning pace now that the approach road was cleared. The next step was to clarify the parameters for clearly defining the peak. Tanaka, with the co-operation of the other four, pushed ahead with this clarification work, modifying the amount of sample, laser strength and glycerin concentration, etc. As the parameters fell into place, so the measurable molecular weight shot up until it surpassed the initial target of 10,000 and reached the heady sum of 35,000. And in August 1985 Tamio Yoshida and Koichi Tanaka jointly submitted a patent application for a sample preparation method and sample holder for use with laser ionization mass spectrometer. Later this patent (JP01769145) would testify to the research originality that won Tanaka the Nobel Prize.
Research closed on an incredibly high note with success beyond the project target. May 1985, one and half years after the team had restarted research, the project moved on from the research stage to the product development stage. To keep abreast of this product development, Tanaka also found himself on the move to the R&D Department of the Scientific Equipment Division. And from there on, he was the only member of the team still pursuing the original theme.

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