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Mobile Clinic Module Wins Red Dot and iF Design Awards
The Mobile Clinic Module (MCM), an inflatable negative pressure ward building system developed by the Korea Aid for Respiratory Epidemic (KARE) initiative at KAIST, gained international acclaim by winning the prestigious Red Dot Design Award and iF Design Award. The MCM was recognized as one of the Red Dot Product Designs of the Year. It also won four iF Design Awards in communication design, interior architecture, user interface, and user experience. Winning the two most influential design awards demonstrates how product design can make a valuable contribution to help contain pandemics and reflects new consumer trends for dealing with pandemics. Designed to be patient friendly, even in the extreme medical situations such as pandemics or triage, the MCM is the result of collaborations among researchers in a variety of fields including mechanical engineering, computing, industrial and systems engineering, medical hospitals, and engineering companies. The research team was led by Professor Tek-Jin Nam from the Department of Industrial Design. The MCM is expandable, moveable, and easy to store through a combination of negative pressure frames, air tents, and multi-functional panels. Positive air pressure devices supply fresh air from outside the tent. An air pump and controller maintain air beam pressure, while filtering exhausted air from inside. An internal air information monitoring system efficiently controls inside air pressure and purifies the air. It requires only one-fourth of the volume of existing wards and takes up approximately 40% of their weight. The unit can be transported in a 40-foot container truck. MCMs are now located at the Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences and Jeju Vaccine Center and expect to be used at many other facilities. KARE is developing antiviral solutions and devices such as protective gear, sterilizers, and test kits to promptly respond to the pandemic. More than 100 researchers at KAIST are collaborating with industry and clinical hospitals to develop antiviral technologies that will improve preventive measures, diagnoses, and treatments. Professor Nam said, “Our designers will continue to identify the most challenging issues, and try to resolve them by realizing user-friendly functions. We believe this will significantly contribute to relieving the drastic need for negative pressure beds and provide a place for monitoring patients with moderate symptoms. We look forward to the MCM upgrading epidemic management resources around the globe.” (END)
KAIST Teams Up with Yozma Group to Nurture Startups
KAIST has joined hands with Israeli venture capital investor Yozma Group to help campus-based startups grow and build success. The two signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on joint technology value creation initiatives at the signing ceremony that was held at KAIST’s main campus in Daejeon on April 8. Under the MOU, Yozma Group will make investments and implement acceleration programs for startups established by KAIST professors, graduates, and students, as well as those invested in by the university. Yozma Group already launched a $70 million fund to help grow companies in Korea and Israel. Yozma Group will use the fund as well as its global acceleration know-how and network of over 400 R&D centers across Israel to help promising KAIST startups enter overseas markets. Moreover, Yozma Group also plans to discover and support KAIST startups that need technology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel’s leading multidisciplinary basic research institution in natural and exact sciences. KAIST is also in talks to locate Yozma Group’s branch office on the university’s campus to ensure seamless collaborations. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee explained to Yozma Group’s Founder and Chairman Yigal Erlich and Head of Asia Pacific Won-Jae Lee at the MOU signing ceremony that “startup and technology commercialization are the crucial areas where KAIST will make innovations.” “Cooperation with Yozma Group will help KAIST startups transform their ideas and technologies into real businesses and build a global presence,” he added. Yozma Group started as Yozma Fund, created in conjunction with the Israeli government in 1993 to support the globalization of Israeli startups and to foster the growth of Israel’s venture capital industry. The Fund, which was privatized in 1998, has supported 97 Israeli tech ventures joining the Nasdaq, leading Israel to become a global innovation hub that has the third-most companies listed on the Nasdaq. (END)
COVID-Update: KAIST on High Alert amid Spring Resurgence
COVID-19 Task Force responds 24-7 and ISSS provides returning international students with a comfort package during 14-day mandatory quarantine In response to the upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the proximate college districts in Daejeon, KAIST announced the enforcement of stricter health and safety regulations. Korean health authorities expected another surge of COVID-19 cases this spring as Korea’s daily new COVID-19 cases have rebounded to the high 600s and over 700 in April, which is the most in over three months. New guidelines issued on April 5 banned faculty, staff, and students from engaging in off-campus activities and utilizing external public facilities. Such facilities include, but are not limited to, bars, cafes, clubs, gyms, karaoke rooms, PC rooms, restaurants, and other crowded indoor spaces. All class and research activities, work meetings, and school events were moved exclusively online, and working from home and flexible working hours were highly encouraged in order to minimize face-to-face interactions on campus. In particular, having meals outside of KAIST cafeterias in groups of two or more was prohibited, while food delivery and take-outs were allowed. Executive Vice President and Provost Seung Seob Lee said in a letter to the KAIST community on April 5 that “the school considers the risk of the current situation to be very high, likely the highest since the outbreak of COVID-19.” Provost Lee then called for more team efforts to contain the current phase of the pandemic and asked everyone to do their part. The school installed new temperature scanners equipped with hand sanitizer dispensers in front of the dormitory entrances to further control the spread of the disease on campus, following confirmed COVID-19 cases among dormitory residents. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, the Task Force for the Prevention of COVID-19 and the International Scholar and Student Services (ISSS) Team at KAIST are working around the clock to reduce the risk of infection spread not only within the campus, but also coming from outside the campus. Under strict health and safety guidelines, KAIST has allowed international students to come back to campus. Currently about 600 international students, mostly graduate students reside on campus. All returning students should complete the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine required by the Korean government at their own expense. The KAIST COVID-19 Task Force is in charge of enacting on-campus health and safety guidelines, responding to reports and inquiries from the KAIST community 24-7, and controlling outsider access, among other responsibilities. The ISSS Team requires returning international students to fill out an entry authorization form and receive approval from the KAIST COVID-19 Task Force prior to returning to campus from their home countries. Once students arrive at their designated quarantine facility, the KAIST ISSS Team sends care packages, which includes some toiletries, instant food, a multipot, a thermometer, and other daily necessities. During the quarantine period, returning students are also advised to follow the directions given by government officials and to coordinate with the ISSS Team. The team also provides useful Korean phrases for international students to help them with communication. The self-quarantine period ends at 12 p.m. 14 days after arrival. Within two days of finishing the 14 days of self-isolation, these students are required to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 at the nearest health center. After confirmed negative, they are allowed to move into on-campus accommodations. KAIST will maintain the current method of remote education and distancing methods until further notice. (END)
Centrifugal Multispun Nanofibers Put a New Spin on COVID-19 Masks
KAIST researchers have developed a novel nanofiber production technique called ‘centrifugal multispinning’ that will open the door for the safe and cost-effective mass production of high-performance polymer nanofibers. This new technique, which has shown up to a 300 times higher nanofiber production rate per hour than that of the conventional electrospinning method, has many potential applications including the development of face mask filters for coronavirus protection. Nanofibers make good face mask filters because their mechanical interactions with aerosol particles give them a greater ability to capture more than 90% of harmful particles such as fine dust and virus-containing droplets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the growing demand in recent years for a better kind of face mask. A polymer nanofiber-based mask filter that can more effectively block harmful particles has also been in higher demand as the pandemic continues. ‘Electrospinning’ has been a common process used to prepare fine and uniform polymer nanofibers, but in terms of safety, cost-effectiveness, and mass production, it has several drawbacks. The electrospinning method requires a high-voltage electric field and electrically conductive target, and this hinders the safe and cost-effective mass production of polymer nanofibers. In response to this shortcoming, ‘centrifugal spinning’ that utilizes centrifugal force instead of high voltage to produce polymer nanofibers has been suggested as a safer and more cost-effective alternative to the electrospinning. Easy scalability is another advantage, as this technology only requires a rotating spinneret and a collector. However, since the existing centrifugal force-based spinning technology employs only a single rotating spinneret, productivity is limited and not much higher than that of some advanced electrospinning technologies such as ‘multi-nozzle electrospinning’ and ‘nozzleless electrospinning.’ This problem persists even when the size of the spinneret is increased. Inspired by these limitations, a research team led by Professor Do Hyun Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST developed a centrifugal multispinning spinneret with mass-producibility, by sectioning a rotating spinneret into three sub-disks. This study was published as a front cover article of ACS Macro Letters, Volume 10, Issue 3 in March 2021. Using this new centrifugal multispinning spinneret with three sub-disks, the lead author of the paper PhD candidate Byeong Eun Kwak and his fellow researchers Hyo Jeong Yoo and Eungjun Lee demonstrated the gram-scale production of various polymer nanofibers with a maximum production rate of up to 25 grams per hour, which is approximately 300 times higher than that of the conventional electrospinning system. The production rate of up to 25 grams of polymer nanofibers per hour corresponds to the production rate of about 30 face mask filters per day in a lab-scale manufacturing system. By integrating the mass-produced polymer nanofibers into the form of a mask filter, the researchers were able to fabricate face masks that have comparable filtration performance with the KF80 and KF94 face masks that are currently available in the Korean market. The KF80 and KF94 masks have been approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea to filter out at least 80% and 94% of harmful particles respectively. “When our system is scaled up from the lab scale to an industrial scale, the large-scale production of centrifugal multispun polymer nanofibers will be made possible, and the cost of polymer nanofiber-based face mask filters will also be lowered dramatically,” Kwak explained. This work was supported by the KAIST-funded Global Singularity Research Program for 2020. Publication: Byeong Eun Kwak, Hyo Jeong Yoo, Eungjun Lee, and Do Hyun Kim. (2021) Large-Scale Centrifugal Multispinning Production of Polymer Micro- and Nanofibers for Mask Filter Application with a Potential of Cospinning Mixed Multicomponent Fibers. ACS Macro Letters, Volume No. 10, Issue No. 3, pp. 382-388. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1021/acsmacrolett.0c00829 Profile: Do Hyun Kim, Sc.D. Professor email@example.com http://procal.kaist.ac.kr/ Process Analysis Laboratory Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering https:/kaist.ac.kr/en/ Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
Microbial Production of a Natural Red Colorant Carminic Acid
Metabolic engineering and computer-simulated enzyme engineering led to the production of carminic acid, a natural red colorant, from bacteria for the first time A research group at KAIST has engineered a bacterium capable of producing a natural red colorant, carminic acid, which is widely used for food and cosmetics. The research team reported the complete biosynthesis of carminic acid from glucose in engineered Escherichia coli. The strategies will be useful for the design and construction of biosynthetic pathways involving unknown enzymes and consequently the production of diverse industrially important natural products for the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Carminic acid is a natural red colorant widely being used for products such as strawberry milk and lipstick. However, carminic acid has been produced by farming cochineals, a scale insect which only grows in the region around Peru and Canary Islands, followed by complicated multi-step purification processes. Moreover, carminic acid often contains protein contaminants that cause allergies so many people are unwilling to consume products made of insect-driven colorants. On that account, manufacturers around the world are using alternative red colorants despite the fact that carminic acid is one of the most stable natural red colorants. These challenges inspired the metabolic engineering research group at KAIST to address this issue. Its members include postdoctoral researchers Dongsoo Yang and Woo Dae Jang, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. This study entitled “Production of carminic acid by metabolically engineered Escherichia coli” was published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) on April 2. This research reports for the first time the development of a bacterial strain capable of producing carminic acid from glucose via metabolic engineering and computer simulation-assisted enzyme engineering. The research group optimized the type II polyketide synthase machinery to efficiently produce the precursor of carminic acid, flavokermesic acid. Since the enzymes responsible for the remaining two reactions were neither discovered nor functional, biochemical reaction analysis was performed to identify enzymes that can convert flavokermesic acid into carminic acid. Then, homology modeling and docking simulations were performed to enhance the activities of the two identified enzymes. The team could confirm that the final engineered strain could produce carminic acid directly from glucose. The C-glucosyltransferase developed in this study was found to be generally applicable for other natural products as showcased by the successful production of an additional product, aloesin, which is found in aloe leaves. “The most important part of this research is that unknown enzymes for the production of target natural products were identified and improved by biochemical reaction analyses and computer simulation-assisted enzyme engineering,” says Dr. Dongsoo Yang. He explained the development of a generally applicable C-glucosyltransferase is also useful since C-glucosylation is a relatively unexplored reaction in bacteria including Escherichia coli. Using the C-glucosyltransferase developed in this study, both carminic acid and aloesin were successfully produced from glucose. “A sustainable and insect-free method of producing carminic acid was achieved for the first time in this study. Unknown or inefficient enzymes have always been a major problem in natural product biosynthesis, and here we suggest one effective solution for solving this problem. As maintaining good health in the aging society is becoming increasingly important, we expect that the technology and strategies developed here will play pivotal roles in producing other valuable natural products of medical or nutritional importance,” said Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee. This work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Changes on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries of the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea and the KAIST Cross-Generation Collaborative Lab project; Sang Yup Lee and Dongsoo Yang were also supported by Novo Nordisk Foundation in Denmark. Publication: Dongsoo Yang, Woo Dae Jang, and Sang Yup Lee. Production of carminic acid by metabolically engineered Escherichia coli. at the Journal of the American Chemical Society. https://doi.org.10.1021/jacs.0c12406 Profile: Sang Yup Lee, PhD Distinguished Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://mbel.kaist.ac.kr Metabolic &Biomolecular Engineering National Research Laboratory Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering KAIST
Streamlining the Process of Materials Discovery
The materials platform M3I3 reduces the time for materials discovery by reverse engineering future materials using multiscale/multimodal imaging and machine learning of the processing-structure-properties relationship Developing new materials and novel processes has continued to change the world. The M3I3 Initiative at KAIST has led to new insights into advancing materials development by implementing breakthroughs in materials imaging that have created a paradigm shift in the discovery of materials. The Initiative features the multiscale modeling and imaging of structure and property relationships and materials hierarchies combined with the latest material-processing data. The research team led by Professor Seungbum Hong analyzed the materials research projects reported by leading global institutes and research groups, and derived a quantitative model using machine learning with a scientific interpretation. This process embodies the research goal of the M3I3: Materials and Molecular Modeling, Imaging, Informatics and Integration. The researchers discussed the role of multiscale materials and molecular imaging combined with machine learning and also presented a future outlook for developments and the major challenges of M3I3. By building this model, the research team envisions creating desired sets of properties for materials and obtaining the optimum processing recipes to synthesize them. “The development of various microscopy and diffraction tools with the ability to map the structure, property, and performance of materials at multiscale levels and in real time enabled us to think that materials imaging could radically accelerate materials discovery and development,” says Professor Hong. “We plan to build an M3I3 repository of searchable structural and property maps using FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles to standardize best practices as well as streamline the training of early career researchers.” One of the examples that shows the power of structure-property imaging at the nanoscale is the development of future materials for emerging nonvolatile memory devices. Specifically, the research team focused on microscopy using photons, electrons, and physical probes on the multiscale structural hierarchy, as well as structure-property relationships to enhance the performance of memory devices. “M3I3 is an algorithm for performing the reverse engineering of future materials. Reverse engineering starts by analyzing the structure and composition of cutting-edge materials or products. Once the research team determines the performance of our targeted future materials, we need to know the candidate structures and compositions for producing the future materials.” The research team has built a data-driven experimental design based on traditional NCM (nickel, cobalt, and manganese) cathode materials. With this, the research team expanded their future direction for achieving even higher discharge capacity, which can be realized via Li-rich cathodes. However, one of the major challenges was the limitation of available data that describes the Li-rich cathode properties. To mitigate this problem, the researchers proposed two solutions: First, they should build a machine-learning-guided data generator for data augmentation. Second, they would use a machine-learning method based on ‘transfer learning.’ Since the NCM cathode database shares a common feature with a Li-rich cathode, one could consider repurposing the NCM trained model for assisting the Li-rich prediction. With the pretrained model and transfer learning, the team expects to achieve outstanding predictions for Li-rich cathodes even with the small data set. With advances in experimental imaging and the availability of well-resolved information and big data, along with significant advances in high-performance computing and a worldwide thrust toward a general, collaborative, integrative, and on-demand research platform, there is a clear confluence in the required capabilities of advancing the M3I3 Initiative. Professor Hong said, “Once we succeed in using the inverse “property−structure−processing” solver to develop cathode, anode, electrolyte, and membrane materials for high energy density Li-ion batteries, we will expand our scope of materials to battery/fuel cells, aerospace, automobiles, food, medicine, and cosmetic materials.” The review was published in ACS Nano in March. This study was conducted through collaborations with Dr. Chi Hao Liow, Professor Jong Min Yuk, Professor Hye Ryung Byon, Professor Yongsoo Yang, Professor EunAe Cho, Professor Pyuck-Pa Choi, and Professor Hyuck Mo Lee at KAIST, Professor Joshua C. Agar at Lehigh University, Dr. Sergei V. Kalinin at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Professor Peter W. Voorhees at Northwestern University, and Professor Peter Littlewood at the University of Chicago (Article title: Reducing Time to Discovery: Materials and Molecular Modeling, Imaging, Informatics, and Integration).This work was supported by the KAIST Global Singularity Research Program for 2019 and 2020. Publication: “Reducing Time to Discovery: Materials and Molecular Modeling, Imaging, Informatics and Integration,” S. Hong, C. H. Liow, J. M. Yuk, H. R. Byon, Y. Yang, E. Cho, J. Yeom, G. Park, H. Kang, S. Kim, Y. Shim, M. Na, C. Jeong, G. Hwang, H. Kim, H. Kim, S. Eom, S. Cho, H. Jun, Y. Lee, A. Baucour, K. Bang, M. Kim, S. Yun, J. Ryu, Y. Han, A. Jetybayeva, P.-P. Choi, J. C. Agar, S. V. Kalinin, P. W. Voorhees, P. Littlewood, and H. M. Lee, ACS Nano 15, 3, 3971–3995 (2021) https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c00211 Profile: Seungbum Hong, PhD Associate Professor email@example.com http://mii.kaist.ac.kr Department of Materials Science and Engineering KAIST (END)
Plasma Jets Stabilize Water to Splash Less
< High-speed shadowgraph movie of water surface deformations induced by plasma impingement. > A study by KAIST researchers revealed that an ionized gas jet blowing onto water, also known as a ‘plasma jet’, produces a more stable interaction with the water’s surface compared to a neutral gas jet. This finding reported in the April 1 issue of Nature will help improve the scientific understanding of plasma-liquid interactions and their practical applications in a wide range of industrial fields in which fluid control technology is used, including biomedical engineering, chemical production, and agriculture and food engineering. Gas jets can create dimple-like depressions in liquid surfaces, and this phenomenon is familiar to anyone who has seen the cavity produced by blowing air through a straw directly above a cup of juice. As the speed of the gas jet increases, the cavity becomes unstable and starts bubbling and splashing. “Understanding the physical properties of interactions between gases and liquids is crucial for many natural and industrial processes, such as the wind blowing over the surface of the ocean, or steelmaking methods that involve blowing oxygen over the top of molten iron,” explained Professor Wonho Choe, a physicist from KAIST and the corresponding author of the study. However, despite its scientific and practical importance, little is known about how gas-blown liquid cavities become deformed and destabilized. In this study, a group of KAIST physicists led by Professor Choe and the team’s collaborators from Chonbuk National University in Korea and the Jožef Stefan Institute in Slovenia investigated what happens when an ionized gas jet, also known as a ‘plasma jet’, is blown over water. A plasma jet is created by applying high voltage to a nozzle as gas flows through it, which causes the gas to be weakly ionized and acquire freely-moving charged particles. The research team used an optical technique combined with high-speed imaging to observe the profiles of the water surface cavities created by both neutral helium gas jets and weakly ionized helium gas jets. They also developed a computational model to mathematically explain the mechanisms behind their experimental discovery. The researchers demonstrated for the first time that an ionized gas jet has a stabilizing effect on the water’s surface. They found that certain forces exerted by the plasma jet make the water surface cavity more stable, meaning there is less bubbling and splashing compared to the cavity created by a neutral gas jet. Specifically, the study showed that the plasma jet consists of pulsed waves of gas ionization propagating along the water’s surface so-called ‘plasma bullets’ that exert more force than a neutral gas jet, making the cavity deeper without becoming destabilized. “This is the first time that this phenomenon has been reported, and our group considers this as a critical step forward in our understanding of how plasma jets interact with liquid surfaces. We next plan to expand this finding through more case studies that involve diverse plasma and liquid characteristics,” said Professor Choe. This work was supported by KAIST as part of the High-Risk and High-Return Project, the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), and the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS). Image Credit: Professor Wonho Choe, KAIST Usage Restrictions: News organizations may use or redistribute these materials, with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. Publication: Park, S., et al. (2021) Stabilization of liquid instabilities with ionized gas jets. Nature, Vol. No. 592, Issue No. 7852, pp. 49-53. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03359-9 Profile: Wonho Choe, Ph.D. Professor firstname.lastname@example.org https://gdpl.kaist.ac.kr/ Gas Discharge Physics Laboratory (GDPL) Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering Department of Physics Impurity and Edge Plasma Research Center (IERC) http://kaist.ac.kr/en/ Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
Professor Jihee Kim Wins the Lucas Prize for Her Income Inequality Theory
Professor Jihee Kim from the School of Business and Technology Management at KAIST was announced as one of two winners of the 2021 Robert E. Lucas Jr. Prize. Professor Kim was recognized for having provided an empirical analysis on engines of income growth, sources of income inequality, and their rich interplay in her paper published in the Journal of Political Economy (JPE) in October 2018. The co-author of this study, Professor Charles I. Jones at Stanford University, was honored to be another awardee of this year’s Lucas Prize. The Robert E. Lucas Jr. Prize, simply known as the Lucas Prize, is awarded biannually for the most interesting paper in the area of Dynamic Economics published in the leading economics journal JPE in the preceding two years. The prize was established in 2016 in celebration of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Economics Laureate Dr. Lucas’s seminal contributions to economics. The two former prizes were presented in 2019 and 2017 respectively. Professor Kim and Professor Jones, in their award-winning paper titled 'A Schumpeterian Model of Top Income Inequality', observed that top income inequality was relatively low and stable between 1960 and 1980, but then rose sharply in some countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The authors focused on entrepreneurial activities and the resulting income as the driving force of income inequality. They assumed that the forces that increased the efforts of fast-growing entrepreneurs to improve their products or increased productivity of their efforts could increase income inequality. On the other hand, the forces that enhanced creative destruction or that raised the rate at which high-growth entrepreneurs lost that status could decrease income inequality, according to the authors’ theory. Professor Kim explained, “Various economic forces due to globalization, the advancement in AI and IT technologies, taxes, and policies related to innovation blocking may explain the varied patterns in income inequality.” “Through follow-up research, I will continue developing economic theory models that can analyze the impact of changes such as income tax rates and salary negotiations on income inequality,” she added. Professor Kim received her bachelor’s degree from the KAIST School of Computing in 2005 and pursued her graduates studies at Stanford University, acquiring a master’s degree in economics in 2011 and a doctoral degree in management science and engineering in 2013. (END)
Professor Jae Kyoung Kim to Lead a New Mathematical Biology Research Group at IBS
Professor Jae Kyoung Kim from the KAIST Department of Mathematical Sciences was appointed as the third Chief Investigator (CI) of the Pioneer Research Center (PRC) for Mathematical and Computational Sciences at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS). Professor Kim will launch and lead a new research group that will be devoted to resolving various biological conundrums from a mathematical perspective. His appointment began on March 1, 2021. Professor Kim, a rising researcher in the field of mathematical biology, has received attention from both the mathematical and biological communities at the international level. Professor Kim puts novel and unremitting efforts into understanding biological systems such as cell-to-cell interactions mathematically and designing mathematical models for identifying causes of diseases and developing therapeutic medicines. Through active joint research with biologists, mathematician Kim has addressed many challenges that have remained unsolved in biology and published papers in a number of leading international journals in related fields. His notable works based on mathematical modelling include having designed a biological circuit that can maintain a stable circadian rhythm (Science, 2015) and unveiling the principles of how the biological clock in the body maintains a steady speed for the first time in over 60 years (Molecular Cell, 2015). Recently, through a joint research project with Pfizer, Professor Kim identified what causes the differences between animal and clinical test results during drug development explaining why drugs have different efficacies in different people (Molecular Systems Biology, 2019). The new IBS biomedical mathematics research group led by Professor Kim will further investigate the causes of unstable circadian rhythms and sleeping patterns. The team will aim to present a new paradigm in treatments for sleep disorders. Professor Kim said, “We are all so familiar with sleep behaviors, but the exact mechanisms behind how such behaviors occur are still unknown. Through cooperation with biomedical scientists, our group will do its best to discover the complicated, fundamental mechanisms of sleep, and investigate the causes and cures of sleep disorders.” Every year, the IBS selects young and promising researchers and appoints them as CIs. A maximum of five selected CIs can form each independent research group within the IBS PRC, and receive research funds of 1 billion to 1.5 billion KRW over five years. (END)
Acoustic Graphene Plasmons Study Paves Way for Optoelectronic Applications
- The first images of mid-infrared optical waves compressed 1,000 times captured using a highly sensitive scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscope. - KAIST researchers and their collaborators at home and abroad have successfully demonstrated a new methodology for direct near-field optical imaging of acoustic graphene plasmon fields. This strategy will provide a breakthrough for the practical applications of acoustic graphene plasmon platforms in next-generation, high-performance, graphene-based optoelectronic devices with enhanced light-matter interactions and lower propagation loss. It was recently demonstrated that ‘graphene plasmons’ – collective oscillations of free electrons in graphene coupled to electromagnetic waves of light – can be used to trap and compress optical waves inside a very thin dielectric layer separating graphene from a metallic sheet. In such a configuration, graphene’s conduction electrons are “reflected” in the metal, so when the light waves “push” the electrons in graphene, their image charges in metal also start to oscillate. This new type of collective electronic oscillation mode is called ‘acoustic graphene plasmon (AGP)’. The existence of AGP could previously be observed only via indirect methods such as far-field infrared spectroscopy and photocurrent mapping. This indirect observation was the price that researchers had to pay for the strong compression of optical waves inside nanometer-thin structures. It was believed that the intensity of electromagnetic fields outside the device was insufficient for direct near-field optical imaging of AGP. Challenged by these limitations, three research groups combined their efforts to bring together a unique experimental technique using advanced nanofabrication methods. Their findings were published in Nature Communications on February 19. A KAIST research team led by Professor Min Seok Jang from the School of Electrical Engineering used a highly sensitive scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscope (s-SNOM) to directly measure the optical fields of the AGP waves propagating in a nanometer-thin waveguide, visualizing thousand-fold compression of mid-infrared light for the first time. Professor Jang and a post-doc researcher in his group, Sergey G. Menabde, successfully obtained direct images of AGP waves by taking advantage of their rapidly decaying yet always present electric field above graphene. They showed that AGPs are detectable even when most of their energy is flowing inside the dielectric below the graphene. This became possible due to the ultra-smooth surfaces inside the nano-waveguides where plasmonic waves can propagate at longer distances. The AGP mode probed by the researchers was up to 2.3 times more confined and exhibited a 1.4 times higher figure of merit in terms of the normalized propagation length compared to the graphene surface plasmon under similar conditions. These ultra-smooth nanostructures of the waveguides used in the experiment were created using a template-stripping method by Professor Sang-Hyun Oh and a post-doc researcher, In-Ho Lee, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Professor Young Hee Lee and his researchers at the Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics (CINAP) of the Institute of Basic Science (IBS) at Sungkyunkwan University synthesized the graphene with a monocrystalline structure, and this high-quality, large-area graphene enabled low-loss plasmonic propagation. The chemical and physical properties of many important organic molecules can be detected and evaluated by their absorption signatures in the mid-infrared spectrum. However, conventional detection methods require a large number of molecules for successful detection, whereas the ultra-compressed AGP fields can provide strong light-matter interactions at the microscopic level, thus significantly improving the detection sensitivity down to a single molecule. Furthermore, the study conducted by Professor Jang and the team demonstrated that the mid-infrared AGPs are inherently less sensitive to losses in graphene due to their fields being mostly confined within the dielectric. The research team’s reported results suggest that AGPs could become a promising platform for electrically tunable graphene-based optoelectronic devices that typically suffer from higher absorption rates in graphene such as metasurfaces, optical switches, photovoltaics, and other optoelectronic applications operating at infrared frequencies. Professor Jang said, “Our research revealed that the ultra-compressed electromagnetic fields of acoustic graphene plasmons can be directly accessed through near-field optical microscopy methods. I hope this realization will motivate other researchers to apply AGPs to various problems where strong light-matter interactions and lower propagation loss are needed.” This research was primarily funded by the Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center of Samsung Electronics. The National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Samsung Global Research Outreach (GRO) Program, and Institute for Basic Science of Korea (IBS) also supported the work. Publication: Menabde, S. G., et al. (2021) Real-space imaging of acoustic plasmons in large-area graphene grown by chemical vapor deposition. Nature Communications 12, Article No. 938. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21193-5 Profile: Min Seok Jang, MS, PhD Associate Professorjang.email@example.com://jlab.kaist.ac.kr/ Min Seok Jang Research GroupSchool of Electrical Engineering http://kaist.ac.kr/en/Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
A Self-Made Couple in Their 90s Donates to KAIST
A self-made elderly couple in their 90s made a 20 billion KRW donation to KAIST on March 13. Chairman of Samsung Brush Sung-Hwan Chang and his wife Ha-Ok Ahn gave away their two properties valued at 20 billion in Nonhyon-dong in Seoul to KAIST during a ceremony on March 13 in Seoul. Chairman Chang, 92, made a huge fortune starting his business manufacturing cosmetic brushes. Building two factories in China, he expanded his business to export to high-end cosmetic companies. Chairman Chang, a native of North Korea, is a refugee who fled his hometown with his sister at age 18 during the Korean War. He said remembering his mother who was left behind in North Korea was the most painful thing. “We always wanted to help out people in need when we would earn enough money. We were inspired by our friends at our retirement community who made a donation to KAIST several years ago. We believe this is the right time to make this decision,” said Chairman Chang. The couple lives in same retirement community, a famous place for many successful businessmen and wealthy retired figures, located in Yongin, Kyonggi-do with Chairmen Beang-Ho Kim, Chun-Shik Cho, and Chang-Keun Son. With their gift, KAIST established Kim Beang-Ho & Kim Sam-Youl ITC Building as well as the Cho Chun-Shik Graduate School of Green Transportation. The four senior couples’ donations amount to 76.1 billion KRW. “It would be the most meaningful way if we could invest in KAIST for the country’s future,” said Chairman Chang. “I talked a lot with Chairman Kim on how KAIST utilizes its donations and have developed a strong belief in the future of KAIST.” Chairman and Mrs. Chang already toured the campus several times at the invitation of President Kwang-Hyung Lee and President Lee himself presented the vision of KAIST to the couple. The couple also attended President Lee’s inauguration ceremony on March 8. President Lee thanked the couple for their donation, saying “I take my hat off to Chairman Chang and his wife for their generous donation that was amassed over their lifetime. They lived very fiscally responsible lives. We will efficiently utilize this fund for educating future global talents." (END)
Professor Mu-Hyun Baik Honored with the POSCO TJ Park Prize
Professor Mu-Hyun Baik at the Department of Chemistry was honored to be the recipient of the 2021 POSCO TJ Park Prize in Science. The POSCO TJ Park Foundation awards every year the individual or organization which made significant contribution in science, education, community development, philanthropy, and technology. Professor Baik, a renowned computational chemist in analyzing complicated chemical reactions to understand how molecules behave and how they change. Professor Baik was awarded in recognition of his pioneering research in designing numerous organometallic catalysts with using computational molecular modelling. In 2016, he published in Science on the catalytic borylation of methane that showed how chemical reactions can be carried out using the natural gas methane as a substrate. In 2020, he reported in Science that electrodes can be used as functional groups with adjustable inductive effects to change the chemical reactivity of molecules that are attached to them, closely mimicking the inductive effect of conventional functional groups. This constitutes a potentially powerful new way of controlling chemical reactions, offering an alternative to preparing derivatives to install electron-withdrawing functional groups. Joined at KAIST in 2015, Professor Baik also serves as associate director at the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) since 2015. Among the many recognitions and awards that he received include the Kavli Fellowship by the Kavli Foundation and the National Academy of Science in the US in 2019 and the 2018 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.
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