News Releases

Konica Minolta Wins the KCS Award in Chemical Technology for FY2021 by Combining Core Technologies with Informatics
An Innovative Material Development Technique Derived from Combining the Latest Techniques in Materials Science and Information Science

June 1, 2022

Tokyo (June 1, 2022) – Konica Minolta, Inc. (Konica Minolta) announced that the company won the KCS Award in Chemical Technology for FY2021 of the Kinka Chemical Society (KCS) for “Development of Fluorescent Nanoparticles for Next-generation Quanticell® — Data-driven Development Innovation —.” The commendation ceremony was held in Osaka on May 27, 2022.

The KCS Award in Chemical Technology is a long-established award that is presented to groups that have made remarkable advances in research and technology for the chemical industry, and is a highly prestigious award in the field of chemistry. The winning of the award reflects Konica Minolta’s commitment to materials informatics and recognition as a highly valuable technology.

Award Winners and Their Achievements

Technology Development Headquarters, Konica Minolta, Inc.
Advanced Core Technology Center: Shumpei Hitosugi
Data Science Center: Kenichi Tabata, Masato Takikawa, Yuko Ikeda, and Tatsuya Hattori

“Development of Fluorescent Nanoparticles for Next-generation Quanticell® — Data-driven Development Innovation —”

Details of the Achievement

Konica Minolta developed a phosphor integrated dot (PID), a high-intensity fluorescent nanoparticle having superior brightness and resistance to discoloration compared with conventional fluorescent dyes, as a labeling agent for biomolecules, which have attracted public attention in the field of medical care and life science. The company offers Quanticell®, an ultra-sensitive tissue staining service that can detect target proteins with exceptional precision, which was difficult using conventional technologies.

For next-generation PIDs, it is necessary to maintain the luminous brightness while reducing the particle size to improve the specificity. Konica Minolta has succeeded in developing a high-brightness small-particle-diameter PID that has equivalent brightness to conventional PIDs with only one quarter of the volume, by developing a new concentration quenching suppression dye (development of a dye) and the development of a particle size/dye-encapsulation quantity control particle synthesis technique (development of a particle synthesis technique). In this project, excellent characteristics that cannot be attained by conventional development approaches were achieved quickly through innovation of the data-driven development technique.

If the conventional technique had been used in the latest development, it would have been necessary to develop a new dye and then develop a particle synthesis technique. In contrast, the data-driven development enabled both a dye and a particle synthesis technique to be developed concurrently. This advantageous approach enabled us to quickly choose the best match in the final form, namely, a dye finished as a particle.

In developing the dye, multiple control factors for resolving issues were identified based on inductive analysis by using machine learning, thus eliminating the need for control experiments. In developing the particle synthesis technique, the particle synthesis formula, which depended partly on experience and intuition, was optimized to a process that does not depend on individual skills by extracting and visualizing important control factors from various parameters. Important factors, which were overlooked by the human senses, have been successfully identified.

Significance of the Technology

Konica Minolta has been working on materials informatics and process informatics by using simulation technology, sensing technology, and AI technology (including machine learning and deep learning) as well as imaging IoT technology, which combines the abovementioned technologies. The company aims to establish innovative material development techniques by properly combining these various informatics technologies with materials science (chemical science).

Work is now under way on implementing the newly developed PID as a material for the next-generation Quanticell®. This is a good example of how base materials can be developed rationally and quickly through data-driven development in the field of bioimaging where precise designs are required. This achievement could only have been achieved by Konica Minolta, which has a wealth of expertise in chemical reactions from the discontinued photo business and which is promoting DX across the company, heralding development innovations in the field of chemical science.

Konica Minolta’s Achievements in Materials Informatics

2018Materials informatics approach to predictive models for elastic modulus of polymer composites
2019Establishment of a high-speed synthesis technique for functional oxide nanoparticles using materials informatics and a high-speed process1)
2020Establishment of a high-speed development technique for optical functional silver nanoparticles using materials informatics and the multi-specimen synthesis technique2)
2021Establishment of a technique to evaluate the interaction effect of polymer composites in materials informatics

1),2) Achievements from participating in the Ultra High-Throughput Design and Prototyping Technology for Ultra Advanced Materials Development Project of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)

Konica Minolta is also committed to the introduction and development of the latest AI and simulation technologies. The company actively collaborates with external research institutions, including participating in projects of the Japanese government.

Konica Minolta hopes to promote the digitalization of manufacturing and contribute to realizing customer value and resolving social issues by combining conventional core technologies with informatics.

For More Information