The Prize Story The Prize Story

Awarded Order of Culture at the Imperial Palace on November 3rd, 2002

Teamwork and Tanaka's Talent

Shimadzu has high expectations for its latest model "AXIMA-QIT", which has as its function, screening for ionized molecules at far greater accuracy to enable in-depth analysis of biological macromolecules. Yet, much of the technology used in the AXIMA-QIT derives from the research results achieved by the Central Research Laboratory's laser team during the 1980s. The successful development of a "laser ionization mass spectrometer" was the result of teamwork. Just as Tanaka stressed at the press conference on Oct. 9th after receiving the news of the Nobel Prize - the research that brought about the immense innovation in structure analysis of biological macromolecules was the combined effort of each member of the quintet laser team. All agree that Tanaka's wonderful effort in the development of a sample preparation method was a huge step forward for laser ionization mass spectrometry. But, without superb technologies in areas such as the mass separator, the detector, the electronic circuits and data processing, there would have been no "world first" result.
And what of the relationship between Koichi Tanaka and the laser team? Team leader Tamio Yoshida puts it this way. "All five of us developed every piece of original equipment from mass separator and detector through to measuring circuits. And I believe that our final success was due to the fact that all the technologies were top class. Nevertheless, the ultimate breakthrough was only made possible because of Tanaka's talent. Any average researcher would probably have thrown away a ruined matrix or have labeled the initial data as noise even if measurements had been conducted. No, I am sure that Tanaka succeeded because his intuition told him that this sample mixture was the right one. And to confirm his hunch, he went without sleep and skipped meals to repeat the experiment over and over again. I, for my part, can only take my hat off to such enthusiasm and perseverance."
Koichi Tanaka's Nobel Prize is the reward for his and the laser team's great effort. For Shimadzu, the company that acquired such human resources and walked hand in hand with such employees, the joy is limitless. Shimadzu corporate philosophy is "Contributing to Society through Science and Technology" and it is "mankind" that makes scientific technology.

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