From pharmaceuticals to semiconductors, Rion’s particle counters are at work behind the scenes in a broad range of industries.Following the development of airborne and liquid-borne particle counters, in recent years, Rion has developed and introduced viable particle counters.Here we’ll introduce the current and future state of evolving particle counting technologies.Light Scattering Airborne Particle CounterKC-22B (2001)The KC-22B determines particle number concen-trations by measuring the diameter and number of particles suspended in air by the light scatter-ing method. It’s lightweight and compact, offers high output and long service life, and incorporates a high stability optical system. To achieve superi-or durability, it incorporates a semiconductor la-ser-pumped solid-state laser as its light source.Rion’s Particle Counter Widely Deployed in Various FieldsAn airborne particle counter counts the number of particles suspended in air by observing the light scattered by particles. The technology was developed to pro-tect workers from radioactive particles suspended in air during the production of nuclear bombs in World War II. In 1973, Rion became one of the rst companies to introduce this technology to Japan.Initially, particle counters made in the US were imported as instruments for mea-suring air pollution and addressing indoor environmental health problems. But some of these products created dissatisfaction among users in terms of quality and main-tenance. In response, in 1977, Rion devel-oped and marketed the KC-01, the rst par-ticle counter made in-house by a Japanese company.The KC-01 featured a minimum measur-able particle diameter of 0.3 μm, rst-rate performance for counters at the time. It cost less than 1 million yen. This made the counter very popular. It saw sales growth mainly in the market for contamination control of drug companies’ cleanrooms.The largest user was the semiconductor industry, at that time on the verge of rapid growth. At semiconductor manufacturing sites, contamination of silicon wafers by airborne particles can signicantly reduce yield ratios. Contamination control by parti-cle counters was essential to secure quality and prot margins.In 1984, Rion developed the rst domes-tic liquid-borne particle counter. Product development was in response to growing demand from the pharmaceutical industry for instruments capable of counting parti-cles in parenteral solutions for injections or other liquids.“Rion’s liquid-borne particle counter is also used in the Super-Kamiokande giant neutrino observation facility, set 1,000 m below ground in Kamiokacho, Hida City, in Gifu Prefecture. This was picked up by the media, which helped Rion’s advanced tech-nologies gain wider general recognition.”Foreign companies are also big customers. In particular, Rion’s measuring instruments, which have helped maintain the compet-itiveness of Japanese companies, have received high acclaim in the semiconduc-tor industry in the Asia region. Its airborne particle counters were also used in Japan’s Kibo experimental module of the Interna-tional Space Station.Precision, Durability, and—a New Arrow in Our Quiver—Minimum Measurable Particle DiameterIn 2007, around the time of the introduction of the iPhone by Apple Inc. of the US, per-sonal computers, smartphones, and tablets had already started ooding the market. This rise in consumption encouraged Japa-nese semiconductor manufacturers to shift production centers overseas. In the 1990s, Rion began strengthening sales activities to Japanese-aliated companies in semi-conductor elds who had moved abroad. But the demands from all these companies were the same, regardless of location. All of them wanted just one thing: the ability to reliably count ever smaller and smaller par-ticles than before.“Particle counters all work on the same basic principles. So our competitors ocked to join the global race in pursuit of the smallest possible measurable particle diam-eter. While we lagged behind in the race a bit from time to time, we adopted a strat-egy of focusing on measurement precision in developing our particle counters.”In 2009, Rion marketed the KL-30A liq-uid-borne particle counter for pure water, an integrated unit combining a sensor, con-troller, and ow meter. The device monitors particles in ultrapure water to a minimum measurable particle diameter of 0.05 μm. Applying the technology for this model, Rion developed the KS-18F light-scattering liquid-borne particle counter, which uses a sapphire cell to detect particles of 0.05 μm in diameter in chemical solutions, mainly of hydrouoric acid. In 2013, Rion succeeded in developing the KS-19F light-scattering liquid-borne particle counter. This device detects particles to a minimum measurable Interview and article by Kana YokotaHow Particle Counters Support Our Society》》FROM NOW ONThe Present and Future of RionTakashi MinakamiTechnical Development Center. In addition to working on the development of particle counters, he’s also involved in joint research with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) on calibration technologies for airborne parti-cle counters.10

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