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I had an absolutely amazing time in Japan! I feel as though I have learned a huge amount about the cultural, business, and education worlds from such a short amount of time.

I enjoyed every activity we participated in during the trips in some way. My favourite part of the study tour ended up being the University of Tokyo Kashiwa campus visit, since I had not expected it to be so impressive, with its many top of the line physics laboratories.

The study tour was definitely worth the time and effort involved, as it has given me some valuable experience which I should be able to carry into the future and apply to my career. So to any nanotechnology students considering going next year, I highly recommend it!

Hopefully I am lucky enough to be able to return one day, for a longer amount of time. For now though, I am glad to be back home for a bit of a rest before getting started with the assignments.

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Catch Ya Tokyo! – Return to Melbourne

What a fantastic trip! Definitely would do it again if I had the chance. Over the past 10 days, I was able to explore many temples, shopping strips, observatory points, and many other exciting things. For the study tour, it has been amazing and phenomenal to see some of the laboratories, technology and research that Tokyo has. The 1st day of the study tour being a small cultural activity to visiting a booming shopping strip. Day 2 to Day 6 involved so much content, it was hard to keep up, since we visited two campuses of Tokyo University, AIST in Tsukuba, Australian Embassy, Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station and the nanotech 2014 exhibition at Tokyo Big Sight. The tour gave me so much insight into research done in Japan and the expo showed me many potential career avenues in the nanotechnology department.

It was definitely sad to leave Tokyo behind, as it is such a spectacular city, with so much to offer everyone, that it is a city that I will visit again. To any other nanotech students reading this, I recommend this study tour because it is a once in a lifetime trip and show the vast world of nanotechnology out in the world, still yet to be explored. The last blog post of the trip, I’m glad to return to Melbourne but I’ll miss Tokyo.

Till next time Tokyo, Catch Ya!!

The Final Day

Unfortunately, today marked the final day of the study tour. The whole day was spent at the exhibition location, the Tokyo Big Sight. First we wandered around the Nanotech 2014 exhibition again, before heading to the neighbouring hall to explore the Smart Energy Japan 2014 exhibition that was occuring at the same time. It contained a lot of interesting power saving devices, including some flashy electric cars. It was a nice change to look at some different types of technology than the last two days.

At 2, our Victorian representatives at the expo gave a series of presentations, outlining some of their recent research. After the presentations were finished, we returned to the Victorian Government Business Office booth. Richard and I helped out a little by giving away some of the free merchandise and brochures to passing patrons. It was a valuable experience as we got to speak to people with a wide range of professions.

Soon after the expo ended, we along with everyone involved with the Victorian booth attended a reception, along a few special guests. It was a great chance to network and have some lighthearted conversations.

And with the reception finished, the study tour was over. I had an amazing time in Japan with everyone, and I feel like I’ve learnt a lot and gained some vital international business experience.

Day 6: The Last Stand

Well, it is all over. The last day of the 2014 Nanotech tour.

Today was a full day at the exhibition. I went early to a presentation by my new contact at NIMS about his work on nanofibre mesh as a treatment for cancer. His passion was incredible and was happy to sit down and have a brief interview with me in Japanese. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him about this and can’t wait to do some work with him next year.

The Victorian presentation was a great experience. Most of us were surprised at how good the turnout to the presentation was. Always a pleasant surprise when people are interested in your country. Massive credit to each of the presenters.

I was able to have a good walk through the Smart Energy Expo which was run in conjunction with the Nanotech exhibition. Was certainly a different experience all together. Here is an adorable photo of me with a polar bear

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The day finished with a wonderful little reception for all the Victorian representatives and a few special guests. It was a great way to round off the trip with some wonderful food and company. One last chance to network before we concluded for the week.

Now, time to enjoy my next 10 days of holidays 🙂

The Fifth Day: Aussie Embassy and return to Expo

Today we had a much better starting time of 8.20 am. First we visited the Australian Embassy, where gaining entrance was much like going through customs at the airport. We had to present our passports and go through a metal detector. Once we got in, we were given a presentation outlining the importance of Japan to the Australian economy, particularly in the field of education. I was surprised to learn that education was Victoria’s fourth largest export in terms of the revenue it brings to the state. We then had a photo opportunity in the back garden of the embassy before we left.

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After our visit to the embassy was over, we made our way to the Tokyo Big Sight once again to attend the Nanotechnology 2014 Exhibition.

Initially, everyone split up to explore the venue by themselves. Daniel and I went to get lunch, and then went to the Oxfords Instruments booth to interview a representative for the Hysitron company. This company manufactures and operates nanomechanical test instruments, which I though was pretty interesting.

We met up with Richard after that, and then found a large company to have an interview with. We ended up talking to some representatives from Bruker, who explained to us their most popular product in Japan, the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). They also explained their most recent development, an AFM with Raman analysis capabilities, which was the highlight of the day.

After that, we attended some seminars by German companies and institutes, which included topics such as organic compound purification, metal nano-inks, and organic electronics. Some of these presentations were particularly interesting, though I enjoyed the nano-ink talk the most.

The exhibition finished at 5, and we were then treated to a networking dinner. This was a nice, relaxing way to end the day, where we got to talk to people from many different countries and witness a traditional ceremony of breaking barrels of sake.

It was a very productive day, getting some company interviews and other tasks completed. Looking forward to having a more relaxed day at the exhibition tomorrow to really take in the surroundings.

Day 5

Today we briefly visited the Australian Embassy and then returned to the expo. At the Embassy there was a short lecture on Australia’s relationship with Japan.

At the show we talked with a representative from Hysitron, a U.S. company that manufactures nanomechanical test instruments. The instruments they produce can characterise an array of physical properties, such as hardness, stiffness and various modulus, on the nanoscale. They typically analyse thin films (such as on hard drive platters) and primarily focus on academia (with plans to expand to industry.

We then talked with a representative from Bruka, who have several interesting atomic force microscopes (AFM), such as a combined Raman microscope-AFM.

We then attended several seminars from some German companies, who are doing a variety of work in printable electronics and advanced semiconductor manufacture.

Day 5 – Aussie Embassy and Nanotech 2014

Day started a lot later than yesterday, so our first visit was to the Australia. The feeling of stepping on Australian soil was fantastic, as it felt like home, as the people at the Australian Embassy sounded like true Aussies, so it felt like home. The embassy boasted tight security, as we had to present our passports and walk through a security gate to ensure we were just here to visit. The Australian Embassy was large, having many residential apartments for Australian citizens and an office to suit Australians trying to make an impact on Australia. We were given a brief presentation on Japan and Australia-Japan relationships by George Manetakis, who is the education manager that represent Austrade. It was great to learn that Australia is trying to expand its relationship with Japan and striving to drive more Japanese students into Australia, to allow the Japanese students the opportunity to study abroad and vice versa for Australian students

Travelling back towards Tokyo Big Site for the nano tech 2014 expo, Ben and I searched amongst some of the countries that had booths in the expo so that we could conduct an interview with representatives of the country as our requirement for 1 of the assessments in NAN3NST. We chose Switzerland as it has some companies that were part of a networking cluster, pointing businesses to potential collaborators known as MicroNARC, an institute interested in research for the Industry sector which was government funded known as EMPA and a manufacturing company interested in potential companies at the exhibition called TISCAL. After these 3 interviews, we listened to some of the seminars given by Saxony, Germany, about their research and potential applications for future needs. At the end of the exhibition, we attended a networking event, that reaches out to the exhibitors of nano tech 2014 so that many different organisations have the chance to communicate with others and possibly establish useful relationships for the future.

Nano tech 2014 for the win!!

Day 5: How does one find a good conversation starter?

This was easily one of the most informative days we have had on this tour. Personally, I found our morning visit to the Australian Embassy to be one that yielded a lot of important information for me. While it was only a short visit, it was certainly a positive one. It was a shame we didn’t get to visit during the time when the cherry blossoms in the main garden are in full bloom.

Returning to the expo today meant a major change in my attack plan. Yesterday was more of just a random walk around and get the feel of the place. Today, we were on a mission.

I set out my seminars I wanted to attend, I found the booths I wanted to visit. It was a very productive day.

The German seminars on Organic Nano products stretched across a wide range of applications and models but they were all very enjoyable and informative. Patrick, Daniel and I headed to Brüker to have a discussion with them about their AFM machines to begin our large company case study. They were really helpful with explaining not only their products but also why the company was there and what directions they were looking at heading towards.

The day finished with an amazing reception for all the exhibitors. This was a perfect chance to network on a slightly more casual basis and I found it much easier to be able to start a conversation with some of the other country representatives. I thoroughly enjoyed my chats with representatives from Iran and Spain and will be continuing those conversations tomorrow for certain.

Another full day at the expo tomorrow so for now it is time to begin planning my day.

The 4th Day: This is nanotech expo 2014

Beginning at the break of dawn (Insert opening scene of lion king, “nants ingonyawa…”), we travelled to AIST’s central institute in Tsukuba, Tokyo. Upon arrival, we began with a presentation, overviewing AIST and its facilities and a short introduction into the nano processing facility, present at AIST. Dr. Oshima gave a brief overview of the positron facility present at AIST. We were also toured through one of AIST’s clean room, housing many instruments from sputtering devices to SEM’s. We were unable to go inside the clean room but were still able to view the clean lab. Afterwards, the lab housing the instrumentation required for the positron beamline and micro analyser were viewed, with an explanation into the generation of positrons to how positrons were used to measure defects in a material.

In the afternoon, we headed towards Tokyo Big Site for the nano tech 2014 expo, with over 500 booths and many exhibitors striving to show their research to the nanotechnology community. The expo was massive, taking up 3 halls present at Tokyo Big Site and there was so much research on show, though a lot was in Japanese, so some explanations were only viewable through diagrams present on the posters. We had the chance to roam around the expo, looking at all the technology on show and finding companies that have interesting research for further interviews for our assessment tasks.

The expo was amazing and the experience of being in this nanotechnology community is brilliant. Nanotech 2014 is a wealth of information that will be further explored in the next 2 days.

Day 4

Today we went to Tsukuba to briefly visit AIST. There was a few short presentations on AIST and a whirlwind tour of some of the facilities. We saw a clean room with an array of characterisation equipment (Raman, SEM, SPM etc) and a positron nanoprobe. The positron nanoprobe was stunning; there were two high-performance positron beams in the lab. This equipment is used to measure atomic holes in a sample, and so characterise various physical properties.

We then spent the afternoon at nano tech 2014. This was an utterly extraordinary experience – a wing of the massive Big Site conference centre was filled with ~1000 exhibitors from around the world. Exhibitors were primarily from industry, with a handful of universities and government organisations represented too. Some exhibitors were little organisations, specialising in one field or product (such as production of a nanoparticle or piece of equipment) while others engaged in a vast array of fields and products. I was able to briefly look at most exhibitors, which included: manufacturers of a range of manufacturing devices (such as devices for machining, nanowires, nanoparticles, thin films, semiconductors and printable electronics); manufacturers of specialised products (such as nanotubes, flexible electronics and films); manufacturers of every characterisation tool conceivable; and researchers in an array of green and renewable energy.