Technology has made DENSO the company it is today. To help create better cars, DENSO allocated more than nine percent of sales to R&D in the past year. That is the largest percentage of any Japanese automobile component maker. And we have kept up a standard of more than 6.5% investment for more than ten years.

DENSO technology is growing in both automotive and non-automotive fields. We have introduced new fuel systems that help vehicles meet tough, new exhaust regulations. And improved sensors help keep cars on the right track in emergency situations. At the same time, we are working on ways to get better performance out of cellular phones.

Neverending Research
DENSO Research Laboratories coordinates our technical developments. Work there spans a wide range of fields, including semiconductor, telecommunication, and display technologies. One project, our 5.5 mm probe (below) is part of a project under the auspices of Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry.*

* DENSO performed this work under the management of the Micromachine Center as the Industrial Science and Technology Frontier Program, "Research and Development of Micromachine Technology," of MITI supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.

Basic research at DENSO is a matter of building fundamental strengths in the company. That accumulated knowledge is what gives birth to new technologies for automotive components. Our work in ceramics for spark plugs, for example, has engendered many offshoots. Those include oxygen sensors and monolithic carriers which help maintain cleaner engine exhaust. Ceramics knowhow allowed us to develop piezoelectric elements for our yaw rate sensors. And the material is vital for various temperature sensors.

DENSO manufactures as well as designs semiconductors. Since 1962, we have been developing semiconductors that can withstand the harsh environment of an automobile engine. Our efforts have paid off in such products as advanced control units for electronic fuel injection systems and automotive air conditioners.

Our micromachining technology is also a fundamental strength. We used ultrafine machining, for example, to make accelerometers for airbags. Those tiny triggers contain a sensing element embedded on a silicon chip.

Micromachining shows great promise in medical, communication, and other industries as well as in automotive components. At DENSO, we have created a 5.5 mm probe that moves freely inside tiny pipes. An inertial drive system developed by DENSO engineers powers it along at 6 mm/second. The probe detects cracks as small as a few microns with its vortex current sensor.

DENSO R&D today spans the globe. Engineers stationed in principal markets talk directly with customers and make on-the-spot decisions. That localized R&D shortens delivery schedules and lowers costs.

Keeping Straight

Our 43-millimeter yaw rate sensor is the heart of vehicle stability control systems.

Cars are subject to many forces as they drive down the road. Inertia, road friction, and others affect how a vehicle performs in emergencies. Knowing what forces are acting on the car helps modern vehicle stability systems keep cars on track when it really counts. DENSO's yaw rate sensor is a crucial component that tells vehicle stability control (VSC) units how the car is moving.

When a vehicle equipped with VSC rounds a curve, inertia moves the piezoelectric elements in the yaw rate sensor. That produces an electrical charge, which an onboard computer uses to calculate the yaw, or spin, on the vehicle. By comparing actual yaw with the angle that the steering wheel indicates it should be, the computer can tell if the car is about to lose control. The VSC unit then applies the brakes to individual wheels or in some cases decreases engine power to keep the car on course.

We at DENSO are working to develop smaller and less expensive yaw rate sensors. Improvement on present technology will allow automakers to put VSC systems in more types of vehicles and make them more affordable to customers.

Calling for Ingenuity

Engineers in Los Angeles are designing cellular telephones for the growing Japanese telecommunications market.

Since 1991, our Los Angeles Labs have been a hub of DENSO's work in developing advanced digital wireless communication equipment for the Japanese market. Development capabilities in the United States have put us within reach of technological resources from the world's most sophisticated telecommunications market.

Development in Carlsbad, California, as in Japan, spans a wide range of tasks for improving the overall performance of digital cellular phones and personal handyphone system (PHS) equipment. Engineers there are working to add new features while making DENSO phones smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient, and less expensive. Cutting development lead time is another important topic for work in the highly competitive Japanese telecommunications market.

Our people use advanced computer simulation programs to aid their development work. Engineers are doing leading-edge work in areas such as digital sound processing, high-frequency tone control, ultrasmall chip applications, and multilayer circuit boards. That results in new ways to eliminate noise, interference, and other impediments to performance.

Our American location also allows us to work closely with various prestigious partners. For instance, we work with engineers from Bell Labs in developing PHS products for factory and office applications.

In addition to cellular telephones and PHS products for the Japanese market, engineers at the L.A. Labs are working on products that incorporate the next generation of digital cellular phone standards. Their work includes creating applications for the promising new Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology for cellular phones. That technology shows potential for clearer reception and other benefits with lower power requirements.

Cleaner Engines

Air fuel sensors (above) give precise measurements of oxygen and fuel in exhaust.

New and improved components are broadening the applicability of our ECD-U2 electronic fuel injection system for diesel engines.

Creating cleaner and more fuel-efficient engines has been a continuous process, progressing in steps over the years. Our new wide-range air fuel sensor, like conventional oxygen sensors, detects the amount of oxygen in automotive exhaust. Conventional sensors, however, work like toggle switches: they detect only whether the oxygen content is above or below a specified level. The first of its kind, our air fuel sensor furnishes more precise oxygen level data.

The amount of oxygen remaining after combustion is an indicator of the "richness" or "leanness" of the air/fuel mixture. Catalytic converters, meanwhile, work most efficiently at prescribed air/fuel ratios. Input from the sensors help engine control systems keep the ratio at the optimum level for efficient catalyzing. Our air fuel sensor is especially valuable with three-way catalytic converters, which remove carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, and nitrogen oxides. The performance of those converters is sensitive to even small variations in the air/fuel ratio.

The common rail-equipped ECD-U2 has helped overcome traditional drawbacks of diesel engines. It reduced particulate emissions dramatically, improved acceleration, and diminished noise and vibration. And we are working on size reductions and further improvements to the system.

One area where we can reduce size is in the bulky injectors. DENSO engineers have devised an innovative valve system to reduce their space requirements. They also developed a smaller, lighter fuel pump. Replacing the piston pump with a rotary model is helping us accommodate the rigorous size and weight requirements we anticipate in future models of the ECD-U2.