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Recyclable Nano-Fiber Filtered Face Masks a Boon for Supply Fiasco
Wearing a face mask is a common sight in Korea during the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to the overwhelming demand, last week the government started to ration two masks per person per week, as a drastic measure to address the supply fiasco. The face masks most commonly used are disposable ones, originally made for filtering out up to 94 or 95 percent of fine dust, referred to as N94 or N95 masks. A KAIST research team announced that they have developed a nano-filter that maintains excellent filtering efficiency even after hand washing through the development of proprietary technology that aligns nanofibers with a diameter of 100~500 nm in orthogonal or unidirectional directions. This reusable nano-filtered face mask could help to relieve the challenges arising from the supply shortage of face masks. Professor Il-Doo Kim’s nano-fiber filtered mask will maintain its sturdy frame and filtering function even after being washed more than 20 times. Professor Kim, who has continued to study the filtering of fine dust using nano-filters, is now awaiting final approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to bring his product into the market. Professor Kim used an insulation block electrospinning process to manufacture orthogonal nanofibers by controlling the alignment of nanofibers. This structure can minimize delivering of the pressure toward the air filter and maximize the filtration efficiency, which is different from existing disposable masks without nano-fibers. Existing masks also fail to maintain their air filtering function because their electrostatic function disappears when exposed to water. Thus, their filtering efficiency is reduced significantly, making it almost impossible to reuse them. However, this nano-fiber design was proven to be water resistant with more than 94% filtering efficiency in 20 repeated bactericidal tests with ethanol. The nano-fiber mask also showed no deformation in its nano-membrane structure despite the 20 hand washes. In particular, it was confirmed that there were no deformations in the membrane, even after soaking in ethanol more than three hours. Professor Kim said, “We believe that this mask can be reusable for about a month even after washing in ethanol. The inner filter can also be replaced.” He added, “We found that the mask filters out up to 80 percent of 600-nanometer particles even after undergoing a bending test more than 4,000 times.” Professor Kim established his startup company, the “Kim Il-Doo Research Institute,” last February. It can currently produce 1,500 nano-fiber filters per day.
Professor Il-Doo Kim Named Scientist of the Year by the Journalists
Professor Il-Doo Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering was named the 2019 Scientist of the Year by Korean science journalists. The award was conferred at the 2019 Science Press Night ceremony of the Korea Science Journalists Association (KSJA) on November 29. Professor Kim focuses on developing nanofiber gas sensors for diagnosing diseases in advance by analyzing exhaled biomarkers with electrospinning technology. His outstanding research was praised and selected as one of the top 10 nanotechnology of 2019 by the Korea Nano Technology Research Society (KoNTRS), the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE). Professor Kim was honored with the QIAN Baojun Fiber Award, which is awarded every two years by Donghua University in Shanghai, China to recognize outstanding contributions in fiber science and technology. Professor Kim was also elected as an academician of the Asia Pacific Academy of Materials (APAM) on November 21 in Guangzhou, China. In May, Professor Kim was appointed as an associate editor of ACS Nano, a leading international research journal in the field of nanoscience. In his editorial published in the May issue of ACS Nano, Professor Kim introduced and shared the history of KAIST and its vision for the future with other members of the journal. He hopes this will help with promoting a closer relationship between the members of the journal and KAIST moving forward. “Above all,” he said in his acceptance speech, “the greatest news for me as an educator is that the first PhD graduate from our lab, Dr. Seonjin Choi, was appointed as the youngest professor in the Division of Materials Science and Engineering at Hanyang University on September 1.”
Professor Il-Doo Kim Recevies the Song-gok Award
Professor Il-Doo Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST received the 20th Song-gok Science and Technology Award from Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KSIT). The Song-gok Science and Technology Award was established to praise the accomplishments of the first president, Hyung-seop Choi, whose penname is Song-gok. The award selects a recipient in the field of materials and technology every other year. Professor Kim, in recognition of his outstanding research and contributions to materials science in Korea, received the award during the 52nd anniversary ceremony of KIST on February 9. Professor Kim focuses on developing nanofiber gas sensors for diagnosing disease in advance by analyzing exhaled biomarkers with electrospinning technology. He has published more than 211 papers and has recorded more than 9,650 citations and 50 h-index. Professor Kim has registered 107 patents and applied 38 patents in Korea while registering 29 patents and applying 16 patents overseas. Also, he transferred four technologies in 2017. Professor Kim is recognized as one of the researchers who is leading nanofiber technology. On January 17, he made a keynote speech at the 5th International Conference on Electrospinning, which was his fourth keynote speech at that conference. Moreover, he received the Technology Innovation Award at the College of Engineering, KAIST on December 19, 2017. Professor Kim said, “It is my great honor to receive the Song-gok Science and Technology Award. I would like to bring distinction to KAIST by taking the lead in the commercializing a nanofiber-based highly sensitive nanosensors, diversifying and commercializing technology using nanofiber.”
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