[SR Talks] ⑥ Interview with a Power Electronics Expert at Samsung R&D Institute Japan-Osaka

Q: Please briefly introduce yourself, Samsung R&D Institute Japan-Osaka, and the work involved. What projects are you working on?

Samsung R&D Institute Japan-Osaka (SRJ-O) has a mission called “Contribute Digital Appliances (DA) Business by Core Technology for Sustainable Future.” To that end, we will focus our development resources on the three fields of “Intelligent Motors, Eco-Friendly Energy, and Materials for Digital Appliances,” which are Japan’s strengths in technology. We also conduct research and development intending to develop the “world’s best” product performance technology / core parts and create the “world’s first” unique technology. In particular, we are collaborating with Samsung Research on issues in each of the three fields regarding “No-Water Washing technology, No-Refrigerant Magnetic Refrigeration, and Foam-less Insulation.”

I am Yasuyuki Sonoda from the Power Electronics Lab of the Intelligent Motor field. Samsung Electronics’ home appliances are sold around the world, including in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Power Electronics Lab is the department responsible for developing the motors used in these products.

I am currently in charge of developing motors for washing machines. Our research institute is fully stocked with the equipment required for development, providing an environment that allows us to face new challenges. By utilizing this environment to the fullest, we are designing and developing high-performance motors. In addition, we are conducting research and development to propose a new motor drive method, creating and mass-producing a new washing machine that has never been seen before.

Q: Please tell me about the importance of your research field or technology.

Our mission is to develop powerful, quiet, and highly efficient motors and to innovate our products. For example, in the case of washing machines, we would like to change their fundamental elements, such as shortening washing time through powerful operation and reducing damage to fabrics through ultra-low-speed operation that was not possible before technology.

We also contribute to the control field. Motors and controls can complement each other’s technology. For example, we believe that algorithms can make a large contribution, such as by controlling noise caused by motor cogging, removing expensive magnetic pole sensors, and supplementing them with magnetic pole position estimation algorithms.

The washing machine motors that I oversee are required to be low in noise, highly efficient, and capable of precise movement in a wide operating range. Given that achieving this with general-purpose products is not feasible, we believe that motor development will be necessary. Moreover, in the past, we have been developing products in response to product requirements, but now that we have developed a new motor, we are establishing value-added proposals that enable even better functions. We aim to build products based on motors.

Q: Can you tell us about your main accomplishment and the most rewarding moment in your research or the episode?

The most rewarding moment for developers is when their products are mass-produced and enrich many people’s lives. Several issues arise when creating something new, but I think the greatest joy comes when you overcome those difficulties. I am currently involved in a project that aims to create a motor with the world’s best performance, resulting in a washing machine with the highest performance worldwide. Many technologies have already applied for patents for the necessary technologies, so we have obtained results in the form of technologies. The next step is to use such technology on products and mass-produce them. It is predicted that many issues will arise throughout this process, but I think you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction after solving each of them and achieving mass production.

Q: What is your vision for the future, and what goal would you want to achieve?

One of our visions is to become the world’s best motor technology group. We believe that motor engineers can take the lead in creating new motors, which can significantly change the value of products. To obtain value as a product, it is necessary to have a product with functions that satisfy users and offer a new experience. It is indispensable to extensive knowledge, not only in specialized fields related to motors but also about products and what users want. Fortunately, there are many experts in SRJ-O, so substantial knowledge and technology can be obtained. We are in an environment where we are constantly incorporating cutting-edge technologies in cooperation with universities in Japan and strengthening collaboration with more universities and companies. I want to contribute to the business by continuing to grow day by day to become an ideal engineer.