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Kanto looking to provide quality reagents for the growing semiconductor and life science industries

Article - December 4, 2023

With over 50,000 reagents, Kanto Chemical is developing unique and innovative technologies to support research and manufacturing of the ever-growing semiconductor and life science sectors.


“We have been actively contributing to society, as a comprehensive reagent manufacturer, by striving to make products that meet customer needs, and by supplying high-quality reagents.”

Manabu Nozawa, President & CEO, Kanto Chemical Co., Inc

While Japan has faced stiffer competition from regional competitors in the chemical manufacturing industry, Japanese firms still hold dominance when it comes to the high-performance chemicals segment. One such company in this field is Kanto Chemical, which produces chemical reagents that are utilized in a variety of industries, including medicine, food, chemistry, and semiconductor manufacturing.

Since its foundation in 1944, Kanto Chemical has been actively contributing to society as a comprehensive reagent manufacturer, by striving to make products that meet customer needs. With over 55,000 products in its extensive line-up, the company ensures its clients have a wide variety of solutions available, from basic reagent up to a high-performance grade.

One of the Japanese enterprise’s main focus areas these days is high-purity, high-performance chemicals for semiconductor manufacturing.The sensitivity and accuracy of analytical instruments used to improve the analysis of ultra-trace elements in semiconductor manufacturing has become an ever-growing need in the industry. As such, strict specifications are now necessary for the reagents used in the manufacturing process. In response, Kanto Chemical has developed the Ultrapur series, which consists of ultra-grade, high-purity reagents specifically designed for ultra-trace analysis.

“This Ultrapur series is specifically designed for the analysis of ultra-trace elements, making it the highest-quality reagent available in our acid product lineup,” says company president Manabu Nozawa. “We offer two variations within this series: Ultrapur and Ultrapur 100. Ultrapur represents the highest grade and consists of an 11-product lineup, while Ultrapur 100 is a slightly lower grade with four different products. The Ultrapur reagents ensure the traceability of 41 elements, ranging from one part per trillion (PPT) to 10 PPT, whereas Ultrapur 100 offers reduced cost while maintaining satisfactory quality. Based on our customers' specific needs, we recommend the most suitable reagent type.”

Kanto Chemical’s primary customers are laboratories and researchers engaged in ultra-fine trace analysis. And one notable application of its products is in collaboration with JAXA, the Japanese space agency, which uses Kanto’s ultra-high purity reagents for analysis of soil samples collected by the Hayabusa satellite from other celestial bodies. “To ensure accurate analysis without any Earth-based contamination, ultra-high purity reagents and chemicals are essential. The cleaning of containers plays a crucial role as well,” adds Mr. Nozawa.

At this year’s Environmental Chemistry Symposium in May, Kanto Chemical was there to promote its product Vitrigel-EIT, a cell culture testing method listed under OECD test guidelines that enables the assessment of chemical substances for potential eye damage. “Formerly, rabbit eyes were used for such testing, but with the ban on animal testing, in-vitro test methods using human cells are now necessary,” the company president explains. “We provide equipment that enables the culture of corneal cells and estimates the irritancy of chemical substances based on electrical resistance. Currently, we are focusing on the European and U.S. markets, where there is growing demand for our product.”

Another of Kanto Chemical’s highlight products is Ir-PSA, an asymmetric, reductive amination catalyst that can efficiently synthesize optically amine active compounds and, as such, has garnered significant attention from pharmaceutical companies. This innovation came about thanks to the company’s joint research with Nobel laureate Dr. Noyori 20 years ago, which led to the development of Enantiomer. “Utilizing this technology, we produced Ir-PSA, which is an iridium-based catalyst,” says Mr. Nozawa. “What sets our catalyst apart is its simplifying the process of synthesizing the optically active amine, which is an important structure of API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient). Our current focus is on promoting this catalyst to overseas pharmaceutical companies that have shown a keen interest in our product. We recently showcased it in Chemspec Europe.”

Indeed collaboration with academia has been key to Kanto Chemical’s product development, with the company having partnered with several Japanese academic and research institutions in Japan in various fields, including semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and biosciences. And Mr. Nozawa reveals he would like to extend collaboration with overseas universities, particularly those in the United States. When it comes to international business expansion, the U.S. is also the company’s main focus, particularly due to the resurgence of the semiconductor industry that is currently happening stateside. “We are collaborating with Kanto Corporation in the U.S., along with our partner companies, to launch a robust sales promotion campaign within the U.S. market,” explains Mr. Nozawa.

International growth in the U.S. and beyond will tie into the overarching mission for the company, which the Kanto Chemical president stresses, is “to provide products that are needed, useful, and contribute to society”.

“With the changing dynamics of society, new industries will emerge, and there will be a growing demand for different products. Our goal is to meet these evolving needs by leveraging our expertise in monozukuri. We aim to support the growth of our company and countries worldwide, while also nurturing the well-being and happiness of people around the globe.”