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History of Hamamatsu Photonics History of Hamamatsu Photonics

History

Took up further challenges in very low-light-level measurement and single photon detection.
Succeeded in conducting Young's interference experiment with single photons.

Using the PIAS (Photon-counting Image Acquisition System), we conducted Young's double-slit interference experiment in the single photon counting region. This demonstrated that an interference pattern appeared by detecting individual photons one by one and then integrating them to create an image. The experimental results indicated that one photon passed through the double slit at the same time (wave interference) and then created one bright spot on the detector (particle’s photoelectric effect). Integrating each bright spot resulted in an image of interference fringes which clearly demonstrated dual properties of light (light is both a wave and a particle). The PIAS imaging system used for this experiment was named one of the “10 Great New Products 1984” by Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun in Japan and also earned an R&D Award from R&D Magazine in the USA. This definitely proved that our low-light-level measurement technology was highly appreciated both domestically and abroad.

Photo: Young’s interference experiment with single photons

Timeline

Pursuing the path of light

First starting from the founding of Tokai Electronics Laboratory in 1948, Hamamatsu TV Co., Ltd. was then established in 1953 followed by a company name change to Hamamatsu Photonics K.K. in 1983. All through this period and up to the present day, we here at Hamamatsu Photonics have been continually pursuing technologies involving “light” in all its aspects. Take a look along with us at the history of our company constantly pursuing the path of light since our founding.

Timeline

1948-1950s accd_minus accd_plus

Founding of the firm: Starting to challenge the possibilities of light

1948

Heihachiro Horiuchi founded Tokai Electronics Laboratory.
Project was launched amidst the ruins after the war with the dream of developing photoelectric devices.

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Heihachiro Horiuchi founded Tokai Electronics Laboratory.
Project was launched amidst the ruins after the war with the dream of developing photoelectric devices.

Being fascinated by the wonder of light since the elementary school days, our founding president Heihachiro Horiuchi studied Electrical Engineering at Hamamatsu Industrial High School (now the Faculty of Engineering of Shizuoka University) as a student of Kenjiro Takayanagi who was one of the world’s pioneers of television technology research, and was greatly inspired by “Takayanagi-ism” after receiving his guidance and instruction. During the World War 2, Heihachiro Horiuchi worked on developing and manufacturing night-vision tubes in Tokyo and then in Yamagata in the northern region of Japan where the factory was evacuated due to bombing. However, when the war ended he had to completely restart his career. He returned to Hamamatsu in the post-war chaos and made a decision to utilize the photoelectric technology he had learned before and during the war. In 1948, he bought a factory site at 456 Ebitsuka-cho, Hamamatsu City, and established Tokai Electronics Laboratory.

Photo: Heihachiro Horiuchi and his wife Hiroko, with their dog Mac

1951

Developed the PV26 phototubes that were used for automatic on/off street light switching.

1953

Established Hamamatsu TV Co., Ltd. with the dream of linking optical technology with industry.

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Established Hamamatsu TV Co., Ltd. with the dream of linking optical technology with industry.

Horiuchi decided to pursue the “path of light” by providing society with a means or namely products that would make effective use of light and he worked on developing photoelectric devices. In early 1951, Horiuchi’s efforts began to show signs of success as a promising inquiry came in for phototubes later called the PV29 and PV26 that he first worked on. At that point in time, Horiuchi was planning to dissolve Tokai Electronics Laboratory into another organization, and so he convinced Teruo Hiruma and Norio Hanyu, who he knew through his elder brother Yuji Takahashi (then Professor at Hamamatsu Industrial High School), to participate in his plan to establish a new company. This gave rise to the founding of Hamamatsu TV Co., Ltd.

Photo: Ebitsuka factory at that time

Started production of G5E phototubes for fax transmissions.

Developed an underwater camera as our first video camera product.
Started finding applications in scientific and industrial fields.

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Developed an underwater camera as our first video camera product.
Started finding applications in scientific and industrial fields.

We became involved in television applications in the fields of science and industry when we were asked by Professor Nobuyuki Kawamoto of Mie University to make an underwater camera for observing fish reefs. That was our first attempt to make a television camera. Preliminary experiments were successful and reported in newspaper, but the actual experiment with the camera loaded on the experimental ship did not succeed unfortunately. Nevertheless, this first attempt to make a television camera was a significant step as our first field experiment.

Photo: Assembly and adjustment of underwater camera

1956

Placed selenium photocathode vidicons on the market.

1958

Developed CdS cells that were our first semiconductor products.
Our first mass-production line started up.

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Developed CdS cells that were our first semiconductor products.
Our first mass-production line started up.

Up until that point, Hamamatsu TV had always been involved in electron tube products such as phototubes. Our first foray into semiconductor products was the CdS cell. After a hard struggle and repeated trials and errors, an employee succeeded in developing the product . One day at the end of 1958, an order came in for 1,000 CdS cells per month for use in adjusting the brightness of television cathode ray tubes. As a company that had up until that time been producing multiple products in small lots, it was our first experience with mass production, and we had to mobilize all of our employees on the production side to get the order filled. The development of the CdS cell ended up bringing about many positive outcomes, among them an accumulation of semiconductor technology and a new sense of unity in-house, after all of the employees had worked together day and night on the production effort.

Photo: Our first CdS Cell: the P101

1959

Succeeded in developing photomultiplier tubes that are still our main products.

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Succeeded in developing photomultiplier tubes that are still our main products.

Among various types of photodetectors, photomultiplier tubes offer superior features such as extremely high sensitivity and fast time response. Around 1955, chemical analysis instruments using photomultiplier tubes began to be manufactured and demand for them also increased in Japan. However, most of such equipment was imported from overseas at that time.Around that time, one of our customers said to us, "If Hamamatsu TV could produce photomultiplier tubes, we would call you the 'king' of the industry." That made our engineers realize the necessity for development of these tubes, and provided the motivation for them to undertake the project. The photomultiplier tube that they developed through many trials and tribulations was far superior to those of other companies, and that product was what gave us a solid footing as an opto-technology company.

Photo: Our first photomultiplier tube: the 931A

1960s accd_minus accd_plus

Business expansion and development: Taking up new challenges in unknown fields

1963

Placed infrared video cameras on the market.

1964

Opend our Ichino Factory.

1966

Experimental production of hollow cathode lamps and deuterium lamps began.

Opened our New York office.

1967

Succeeded in developing an automatic rocket tracking system called the X-Y Tracker.
Started to take part in space development projects.

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Succeeded in developing rocket automatic tracking device
Participation in the space development project began.

We spent two years developing automatic rocket tracking system (the X-Y tracker), something that was requested by Professor Tsuneyoshi Uemura of Tokyo University, and after many hardships we succeeded in creating a prototype. This X-Y tracker was able to flawlessly track the rocket immediately after launch, and observers visiting from America praised it highly, saying that it was the most advanced device of anything that they had seen at the Uchinoura test facility. At that time, even NASA was using photographic strip film for orbital tracking of rockets, and the X-Y tracker was truly an epochal device. It provided the opportunity for us to take part in space development projects such as cameras for observing the aurora borealis and cameras for the "Suisei", the probe tracking Halley's comet.

Photo: Automatic rocket tracking system called the X-Y Tracker

1969

Expanded into medical fields.
Developed an eye pupil area measurement system using a video camera.

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Expanded into medical fields.
Developed an eye pupil area measurement system using a video camera.

Tetsu Ishikawa, a lecturer at the Tokyo University Faculty of Medicine, thought that if a device were developed that made it possible to accurately measure pupillary responses (changes in the surface area of the iris) closely related to autonomous nervous system functions, it would be the first such device in the world to be able to do so, and he came to us to see if we could develop it. The development of this "Iriscoder" not only required that we focus everything on improving the product precision, as we had in the past, but also required that we take on a field that was completely unknown to us. That was the field of medical equipment manufacturing, which included camera performance, the convenience of use for physicians, taking the psychological state of the subject into consideration, and other elements with which we were unfamiliar. This device was used to study pupillary responses (adaptation of the eye to darkness and brightness) when entering and driving through tunnels, and the results of those experiments are still at work today in expressway tunnel illumination.

Photo:Iris testing using the Iriscoder

Established an affiliated company in the USA

1970s accd_minus accd_plus

Preparation for the big leap: Laying the cornerstone for solid-state products and system products.

1972

Developed silicon photodiodes based on the technical expertise we had accumulated through the development and manufacture of electron tubes.

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Developed silicon photodiodes based on the technical expertise we had accumulated through the development and manufacture of electron tubes.

Around that time, the camera maker to whom we were supplying CdS cells asked us to develop a silicon photodiode for use with cameras, saying that, as semiconductor components, these photodiodes offered better measurement accuracy and response characteristics than CdS cells. Silicon photodiodes were viewed as very promising at the time as sensors for camera exposure meters and measuring instruments. We got off to a late start in that field, but we drew on the knowhow and the sales channels that we had built up through our electron tube development and manufacturing, and silicon photodiodes later grew to be one of the main products of our Solid State Division.

Photo: Silicon photodiodes

1973

Opened our Toyooka Factory.

Established a joint venture company in West Germany (now Germany).

1977

Placed streak camera systems on the market.

Opening up new borders through connections with computers.
Developed vidicon camera for computers.

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Opening up new borders through connections with computers.
Developed vidicon camera for computers.

In 1971, microcomputers appeared on the market and their use spread rapidly. We were quick to open up new frontiers in computer-compatible video cameras. The model C1000 (vidicon camera for computers) was an innovative high-precision video camera with the basic performance and functions needed for image processing and measurement. This was quite different from other conventional video cameras that were designed just for “viewing” tasks such as for monitoring and surveillance. The C1000 enabled sophisticated image processing using a computer and its applications were extended to various fields. This combination of video camera and computer is still a feature of our current system products.

Photo: The C1000 vidicon camera for computers

1978

A space-borne TV camera we developed helped succeed in capturing aurora images from outer space for the first time in the world.

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A space-borne TV camera we developed helped succeed in capturing aurora images from outer space for the first time in the world.

“I’d like to observe auroras from outer space by mounting a TV camera on an artificial satellite.” We received a request to develop a satellite-borne TV camera from Prof. Takao Tohmatsu, an authority on geophysics of the Geophysics Research Laboratory, University of Tokyo. In a limited time, we worked to develop a vacuum UV image storage tube and a TV camera that would be able to operate reliably for a period of one year under harsh conditions in space such as a vacuum, extremely cold or hot temperatures, and exposure to radiation, as well as having the high durability needed against vibration and shocks applied during the satellite launch. In 1978, the Japanese scientific satellite EXOS-A (later named “Kyokko”) equipped with our special TV camera was launched. After 20 days, when the satellite had traveled around the earth 214 times, it succeeded in capturing 8 beautiful images of an aurora among the 20 images that were taken at that time. This was the first success in the world in capturing aurora images from outer space, and made our company name well-known worldwide in the field of space development.

Photo: Satellite-borne TV camera

25th anniversary of company foundation. Teruo Hiruma became the company's president.

1980s accd_minus accd_plus

The age of photonics: Changing from Hamamatsu TV Co., Ltd. to Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.

1980

Our first private exhibition called the Photon Fair was held to introduce and demonstrate our wide-ranging photonics technology and products.

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Our first private exhibition called the Photon Fair was held to introduce and demonstrate our wide-ranging photonics technology and products.

Having had a good response from customers visiting our "Hamamatsu General Exhibition Osaka" held in 1979 to commemorate the opening of our Osaka sales office, we also held our first overall exhibition called the Photon Fair the next year 1980 in Osaka and Tokyo. The exhibition name Photon Fair was derived from the elementary particle called a photon used in our business slogan “Photon is our business” so as to let more people become familiar with the exhibition. Besides just exhibiting a full range of our products, we also introduced new technologies and made efforts to provide technical consultations, lectures and workshops, so that we could propagate our business philosophy and attitude by way of the Photon Fair. Even now, the Photon Fair is held regularly as an effective place for meeting and talking with customers to exchange ideas and information.

Photo: Entrance to the exhibition hall where the first Photon Fair was held

1982

Decided to reorganize the company into business divisions for greater flexibility in meeting business needs of the changing times.

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Decided to reorganize the company into business divisions for greater flexibility in meeting business needs of the changing times.

Up to that time, our production department had been managed and controlled as one basic unit. However, since the company’s scale had expanded and the number of product types had increased, we reorganized the company into business divisions to quickly and accurately respond to the changing times and offer more flexible business operations. The company was divided into 3 business divisions: Electron Tube Division, Solid State Division, and Systems Division. The main office and factories of each division had been gathered in an area different from each other, so they have been located there up to today.

Photo: Main office and factories of each division at that time the company was reorganized

Took up further challenges in very low-light-level measurement and single photon detection. Succeeded in conducting Young's interference experiment with single photons.

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1983

Changed our company name to Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.

Placed Photonic microscope systems (video camera systems for microscopes) on the market.

1984

Placed the PIAS (Photon-counting Image Acquisition System) on the market.

Officially registered on over-the-counter market of Japan Securities Dealers Association.

Placed xenon lamps on the market.

1985

Opened our headquarters business office in Sunayama-cho, Hamamatsu City.

Established an affiliated company in France.

Placed high power pulsed laser diodes on the market.

1988

Japanese Prince Akihito (now the emperor) visited our Toyooka Factory.

Established affiliated companies in the UK and Sweden and a joint venture company (manufacturing subsidiary company) in China.

1990s accd_minus accd_plus

Beginning of new explorations: Stepping forward to contribute to better human life

1990

Opened our Hamamatsu Photonics Central Research Laboratory.

1991

Established an affiliated company in Italy.

1994

Opened our Miyakoda Factory.

Placed micro focus X-ray sources on the market.

1996

Company's stock registered on the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

1998

Company's stock registered on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Succeeded for the first time in the world in artificial indoor cultivation of rice plants using semiconductor lasers.

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Succeeded for the first time in the world in artificial indoor cultivation of rice plants using semiconductor lasers.

This plant factory succeeded in artificially cultivating rice plants in an indoor farm, for the first time in the world using high-power semiconductor lasers instead of sunlight. This experiment relied on semiconductor lasers that were fabricated by applying our technology developed for laser fusion research. Those semiconductor lasers were designed to emit light at 680 nm where the chloroplasts in rice leaves photosynthesize most vigorously. Compared to conventional cultivation methods used in plant factories, this new method applying semiconductor lasers drastically cuts the power cost and shortens the cultivation period, offering the possibility of eliminating global food shortage in the future.

Photo: Plant factory

2000s accd_minus accd_plus

Pioneering for the next generation: Aiming at creating new industries

2002

Nobel Prize in physics awarded to Masatoshi Koshiba, professor emeritus of University of Tokyo, for research conducted at Kamiokande where a large number of our photomultiplier tubes were installed.

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Nobel Prize in physics awarded to Masatoshi Koshiba, professor emeritus of University of Tokyo, for research conducted at Kamiokande where a large number of our photomultiplier tubes were installed.

Masatoshi Koshiba, professor emeritus of University of Tokyo, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the world’s first successful observation of neutrinos that were released by a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy in 1987. This success was the result of research conducted at Kamiokande where our photomultiplier tubes were installed.

Photo: Inside of Kamiokande

2003

The building of a clinical facility for the Hamamatsu Medical Imaging Center run by the Hamamatsu Medical Photonics Foundation was completed to facilitate the early detection of cancer and dementia.

2005

Opened the Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries with the goal of creating new photonics industries.

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Opened the Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries with the goal of creating new photonics industries.

As we move into the 21st century, remarkable globalization is taking place throughout the world in both industrial and economic sectors. In Japan, which has built the foundation for an economic empire by taking academic learning and technologies introduced from foreign countries and further developing and expanding applications for those technologies, we're now finding that we ourselves need to create new industries, and in turn new cultures, which we can then send out into the rest of the world. The Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries was established by Hamamatsu Photonics and other enterprises for the purpose of cultivating human resources capable of launching new industries that will focus on light and its infinite possibilities. Put differently, the founding of new industries itself is the foremost objective of education at the University.

Photo: The Graduate School For The Creation Of New Photonics Industries

Placed NanoZoomer digital slide scanners on the market.

2009

Akira Hiruma took office as president and CEO.

2010s accd_minus accd_plus

From Hamamatsu to the world: Making further progress toward global expansion

2010

Established a European headquarters to streamline business activities among sales subsidiaries in Europe.

2011

Established an affiliated company as sales subsidiary in China.

2013

Signed the "Photonics Declaration in Hamamatsu 2013 - for establishing Hamamatsu as a Preeminent Photonics City" along with 3 nearby universities.

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Signed the "Photonics Declaration in Hamamatsu 2013 - for establishing Hamamatsu as a Preeminent Photonics City" along with 3 nearby universities.

Hamamatsu Photonics along with 3 universities of Shizuoka University, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, and the Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries, signed the Photonics Declaration in Hamamatsu for establishing Hamamatsu as a preeminent photonics city. By way of this declaration, we reaffirmed our decision to play a useful role in pursuing human happiness through industrial application of light that we know to have unlimited possibilities. To make Hamamatsu a truly preeminent photonics city, we will further probe the unknown and unexplored realms of light while aiming at creating new industries.

Photo: Written declaration

Our SSD, APD and photomultiplier tubes contributed to detection of Higgs bosons.
Nobel Prize in physics awarded to Professors emeritus Francois Englert and Peter W. Higgs for the detection of Higgs bosons.

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Our SSD, APD and photomultiplier tubes contributed to detection of Higgs bosons.
Nobel Prize in physics awarded to Professors emeritus Francois Englert and Peter W. Higgs for the detection of Higgs bosons.

Professors emeritus Francois Englert and Peter W. Higgs were awarded the Physics Nobel Prize for detecting Higgs bosons often called "God’s particles" in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) research at CERN, where our SSD, Si APD, and photomultiplier tubes were used.

Photo: SSD (silicon strip detectors) installed inside the Large Hadron Collider at CERN

2014

20-inch photomultiplier tubes for neutrino observation were certified as an IEEE Milestone.

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20-inch photomultiplier tubes for neutrino observation were certified as an IEEE Milestone.

The 20-inch diameter photomultiplier tube we developed for Proton decay experiments at Kamiokande was awarded an IEEE Milestone for contributing to neutrinos observation. The IEEE Milestone is an award presented by the IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization in the electrical, electronic, information, and communication fields. This award recognizes the historical achievement of technical innovations that must have been developed at least 25 years ago and that have contributed to further development of society and industry. The plaque presented as an IEEE Milestone award was mounted on a rock and installed as a plaque monument at our Toyooka Factory site. The rock used for the plaque monument is Hida gneiss delivered from the Kamioka mine where these cutting-edge experiments in particle physics are still going on. The plaque monument was placed facing toward the Kamioka mine as if it is watching over the next achievement and awaiting new discoveries.

Photo: IEEE Milestone dedication ceremony

2014

Established an affiliated company in Taiwan.

2015

Nobel Prize in physics awarded to Takaaki Kajita, professor of University of Tokyo for research conducted at Super-Kamiokande equipped with a large number of our photomultiplier tubes.

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Nobel Prize in physics awarded to Takaaki Kajita, professor of University of Tokyo for research conducted at Super-Kamiokande equipped with a large number of our photomultiplier tubes.

Professor Takaaki Kajita, University of Tokyo, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillations that indicate a neutrino has a mass. This breakthrough was the result of research at SuperKamiokande where our photomultiplier tubes were installed.

Photo: 20-inch photomultiplier tube