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With its Flexible Energy Concept, the "Capacitor House" Is Opening up New Markets. Murata's New Component Engineering Is a Further Expression of its Culture

Hiroshi Iwatsubo Vice President and Head of Global Sales & Marketing Unit

Profile

After joining Murata Manufacturing in 1985, Iwatsubo engaged in the development of ceramic materials. In 1989, he was dispatched to Murata Europe GmbH, where he was responsible for development and new-business marketing. After returning to Murata Manufacturing in 1993, he was attached to the Technology Management Dept., and served as Manager of the Planning Sec. and Manager of the Designing Sec., RF Semiconductor Products Dept. before becoming General Manager, Corporate Planning Dept. in 2005. In 2008, he was appointed Director of the Sensor Products Division, Device Business Unit before taking his current office in 2011.
He loves playing golf, reading books, and walking.

Energy is a focus of interest today.
Using information technology in generating energy at home and at work and automatically controlling energy-consuming equipment requires not only an innovative energy-saving concept, but also a technology that provides for overall energy management.
How can Murata, a "capacitor house" that has focused on this technology, help in the field of energy?
What impact can the sensor and networking technologies developed by Murata for consumer products such as mobile phones have on energy use?
Murata continues to commit itself to benefiting society with its technology, and now is the best time to open a new chapter in fulfilling this commitment.

Intelligent power supplies will be provided for the efficient use of electricity, but the process cannot be referred to as being 'smart' if repeated conversion reduces efficiency.

Taking Advantage of Capacitor Technology To Enter the Power Electronics Market

Murata is always taking up new challenges, and the power electronics business is just one of them. Here, we are applying one of our strengths, monolithic ceramic capacitor technology. Technologies for power conversion and power control differ greatly from those we are familiar with. They involve different types of engineers and different extents of danger. In working on power electronics, however, Murata has an advantage. We can see the technology from a new perspective. New fields begin to develop when we start asking new questions. Murata engineers ask completely new sets of whys and why-nots, and this generates completely new ideas.

As a "capacitor house," Murata has focused on monolithic ceramic capacitors with very low power consumption. In recent years, we have been developing business in new markets such as automobiles and healthcare. Our competitive edge comes from our technology for downsizing and increasing capacitance. We are working on chargeable high-capacitance capacitors as well as next-generation energy storage devices such as lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and high-output organic batteries. Here we make use of our material and layering technologies. This is how we have developed our business in power electronics. However, products for the new market are still developed separately, and they have yet to be integrated into systems.

Concept of "Intelligent Power Supply"

Despite its traditional interest in power electronics, Murata had not gone so far as to take a comprehensive approach. Since the major natural disaster that hit East Japan on March 11, 2011, however, there has been dramatic change in people's needs for electric power—in terms of power generation and electrical storage. Ideas like "smart energy" and "energy harvesting" now draw enthusiastic attention. The world is now much more interested in how energy is to be produced.

Does "eco-friendly" mean restricting energy use or cutting off energy supplies when they are not needed? For example, the so-called "smart" approach involves storing electricity at home during low-rate night hours and using the stored power during peak hours. The aim is to even out the demand for electric power. What can Murata do to promote this aim? Optimizing the use of power generated by solar cells requires a power conversion process suitable for the application.

Specifically, DC-DC and DC-AC converters are used to achieve intelligent power supply for efficient use without loss of output. The process cannot be referred to as being "smart," however, if repeated conversion reduces efficiency. This is where the power supply technology that Murata has developed for TVs, printers, and copying machines comes in. Intelligent power supplies will be a key technology in the future.

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