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KAIST Team Develops Surface-Lighting MicroLED Patch with Significant Melanogenesis Inhibition Effect
A KAIST research team led by Ph.d candidate Jae Hee Lee and Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has developed a surface-lighting microLED patch for UV-induced melanogenesis inhibition. Melanin is brown or dark pigments existing in the skin, which can be abnormally synthesized by external UV or stress. Since the excessive melanin leads to skin diseases such as spots and freckles, proper treatment is required to return normal skin condition. Recently, LED-based photo-stimulators have been released for skin care, however, their therapeutic effect is still controversial. Since conventional LED stimulators cannot conformally attach to the human skin, distance-induced side effects are caused by light loss and high heat transfer. To achieve effective phototreatment, the LED stimulator needs to be irradiated in contact with the human skin surface, enabling proper and uniform light deliver to the dermis with minimal optical loss. In this work, the research team fabricated skin-attachable surface-lighting microLED (SµLED, 4 × 4 cm2) patch by utilizing a thousand of microLED chips and silica-embedded light diffusion layer. 100 µm-sized LED chips are vertically-interconnected for high flexibility and low heat generation, allowing its long-term operation on the human skin. < Image 1. The overall concept of SµLED patch. a) SµLED patch operated on the human skin. b) Schematic illustration of SµLED patch structure. c) 4 × 4 cm2-sized SµLED patch. d) Schematic illustration of the advantages of SµLED patch such as efficient light delivery, low heat generation, and surface-lighting irradiation. > The research team confirmed melanogenesis inhibition by irradiating the SµLED patch and the conventional LED (CLED) on the artificial human skin and mice dorsal skin. The SµLED-treated groups of human cells and mouse tissues showed minimal epidermal photo-toxicity and consistently effective reduction in synthesized melanin, compared to CLED-treated groups. In addition, significant suppression of proteins/catalysts expression involved in melanin synthesis such as MITF (microphthalmia-associated transcription factor), Melan-A and tyrosinase was verified. < Image 2. The efficacy of melanogenesis inhibition on 3D human skin cells. a). Different irradiation conditions for a-MSH (major factor to stimulate melanin synthesis) treated cells. b) The ratio of pigmented area to total epidermis area. c) Relative variance of melanin level in 1 cm2-sized skin cells. A low variance means that melanin is evenly distributed, and a high variance means that the melanin is irregularly distributed. d) Optical images after in vitro experiments for 12 days. Scale bar, 1cm. e) Histological analysis of 3D skin, showing the greatest reduction in melanin after SµLED irradiation. Scale bar, 20 µm. > < Image 3. The efficacy of melanogenesis inhibition on mouse dorsal skin. a) Optical images of mice dorsal skin after photo-treatment for 20 days. b) Histological analysis of mice dorsal skin. Less brown color means less expression of protein/catalysis involved in melanin synthesis. Scale bar, 50 µm. > Prof. Keon Jae Lee said, “Our inorganic-based SµLED patch has outstanding characteristics in light efficiency, reliability, and durability. The SµLED patch is expected to give a great impact on the cosmetic field by reducing side effects and maximizing phototherapeutic effects.” The core technology of cosmetic SµLED has been transferred to Fronics co., Ltd, founded by Prof. Lee. Fronics is building foundry and equipment for mass production of SµLED masks for whole face cover and plans to release the products in March next year. This paper entitled “Wearable Surface-Lighting Micro-Light-Emitting Diode Patch for Melanogenesis Inhibition” was published in the November 2022 issue of Advanced Healthcare Materials.
EE Professor Youjip Won Elected as the President of Korean Institute of Information Scientists and Engineers for 2024
< Professor Youjip Won of KAIST School of Electrical Engineering > Professor Youjip Won of KAIST School of Electrical Engineering was elected as the President of Korean Institute of Information Scientists and Engineers (KIISE) for the Succeding Term for 2023 on November 4th, 2022. Professor Won will serve as the 39th President of KIISE for one year starting from Jan. 1, 2024. He is one of the leading experts on Operating Systems, with a particular emphasis on storage systems. Korean Institute of Information Scientists and Engineers (KIISE), one of the most prestigious Korean academic institutions in the field of computer and software, was founded in 1973 and boasts a membership of over 42,000 people and 437 special/group members. KIISE is responsible for annually publishing 72 periodicals and holding 50 academic conferences.
Professor Shinhyun Choi’s team, selected for Nature Communications Editors’ highlight
[ From left, Ph.D. candidates See-On Park and Hakcheon Jeong, along with Master's student Jong-Yong Park and Professor Shinhyun Choi ] See-On Park, Hakcheon Jeong, Jong-Yong Park - a team of researchers under the leadership of Professor Shinhyun Choi of the School of Electrical Engineering, developed a highly reliable variable resistor (memristor) array that simulates the behavior of neurons using a metal oxide layer with an oxygen concentration gradient, and published their work in Nature Communications. The study was selected as the Nature Communications' Editor's highlight, and as the featured article posted on the main page of the journal's website. Link : https://www.nature.com/ncomms/ [ Figure 1. The featured image on the main page of the Nature Communications' website introducing the research by Professor Choi's team on the memristor for artificial neurons ] Thesis title: Experimental demonstration of highly reliable dynamic memristor for artificial neuron and neuromorphic computing. ( https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-30539-6 ) At KAIST, their research was introduced on the 2022 Fall issue of Breakthroughs, the biannual newsletter published by KAIST College of Engineering. This research was conducted with the support from the Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center of Samsung Electronics.
A New Family of Ducks joins the Feathery KAISTians
In October of this year, KAIST signed an 'Agreement for the Training Program for AI Semiconductor Designers' with Samsung Electronics, to conduct joint research and actively nurture master's and doctorate researchers in the field of Semiconductors designed exclusively for AI devices. To celebrate this commemorative agreement for cooperation bound for mutual success, Samsung Electronics gifted a set of 5 ducks to KAIST. The Duck Pond and the Geese have been representing KAIST as famous mascots. It all started back in 2000, when the incumbent President, Professor Kwang Hyung Lee served was then a professor at the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, he first picked up a pack of ducks from Yuseong Market and started taking care of it on campus around the Carillon pond. While the ducks came and went, eventually being replaced with a pack of geese over the time, for more than 20 years, the pack of feathery KAISTians stole the eyes of the passersby and were loved by both the on-campus members and the visitors, alike. The representative of the Samsung Electronics said that the pack of ducks comprising of a new breed contains the message of SEC that it hopes that the PIM semiconductor technology will grow to become the super-gap technology that would turn heads and grab attention of the world as the mascot of Korea's technological prowess under the combined care of KAIST and SEC. Would the ducks find KAIST likable? We will keep you informed of how they are doing!
Yuji Roh Awarded 2022 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship
KAIST PhD candidate Yuji Roh of the School of Electrical Engineering (advisor: Prof. Steven Euijong Whang) was selected as a recipient of the 2022 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship. < KAIST PhD candidate Yuji Roh (advisor: Prof. Steven Euijong Whang) > The Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship is a scholarship program that recognizes outstanding graduate students for their exceptional and innovative research in areas relevant to computer science and related fields. This year, 36 people from around the world received the fellowship, and Yuji Roh from KAIST EE is the only recipient from universities in Korea. Each selected fellow will receive a $10,000 scholarship and an opportunity to intern at Microsoft under the guidance of an experienced researcher. Yuji Roh was named a fellow in the field of “Machine Learning” for her outstanding achievements in Trustworthy AI. Her research highlights include designing a state-of-the-art fair training framework using batch selection and developing novel algorithms for both fair and robust training. Her works have been presented at the top machine learning conferences ICML, ICLR, and NeurIPS among others. She also co-presented a tutorial on Trustworthy AI at the top data mining conference ACM SIGKDD. She is currently interning at the NVIDIA Research AI Algorithms Group developing large-scale real-world fair AI frameworks. The list of fellowship recipients and the interview videos are displayed on the Microsoft webpage and Youtube. The list of recipients: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/academic-program/phd-fellowship/2022-recipients/ Interview (Global): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4Q-XwOOoJc Interview (Asia): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwq3R1XU8UE [Highlighted research achievements by Yuji Roh: Fair batch selection framework] [Highlighted research achievements by Yuji Roh: Fair and robust training framework]
See-through exhibitions using smartphones: KAIST develops the AR magic lens, WonderScope
WonderScope shows what’s underneath the surface of an object through an augmented reality technology. < Photo 1. Demonstration at ACM SIGGRAPH > - A KAIST research team led by Professor Woohun Lee from the Department of Industrial Design and Professor Geehyuk Lee from the School of Computing have developed a smartphone “appcessory” called WonderScope that can easily add an augmented reality (AR) perspective to the surface of exhibits - The research won an Honorable Mention for Emerging Technologies Best in Show at ACM SIGGRAPH, one of the largest international conferences on computer graphics and interactions - The technology was improved and validated through real-life applications in three special exhibitions including one at the Geological Museum at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) held in 2020, and two at the National Science Museum each in 2021 and 2022 - The technology is expected to be used for public science exhibitions and museums as well as for interactive teaching materials to stimulate children’s curiosity A KAIST research team led by Professor Woohun Lee from the Department of Industrial Design and Professor Geehyuk Lee from the School of Computing developed a novel augmented reality (AR) device, WonderScope, which displays the insides of an object directly from its surface. By installing and connecting WonderScope to a mobile device through Bluetooth, users can see through exhibits as if looking through a magic lens. Many science museums nowadays have incorporated the use of AR apps for mobile devices. Such apps add digital information to the exhibition, providing a unique experience. However, visitors must watch the screen from a certain distance away from the exhibited items, often causing them to focus more on the digital contents rather than the exhibits themselves. In other words, the distance and distractions that exist between the exhibit and the mobile device may actually cause the visitors to feel detached from the exhibition. To solve this problem, museums needed a magic AR lens that could be used directly from the surface of the item. To accomplish this, smartphones must know exactly where on the surface of an object it is placed. Generally, this would require an additional recognition device either on the inside or on the surface of the item, or a special pattern printed on its surface. Realistically speaking, these are impractical solutions, as exhibits would either appear overly complex or face spatial restrictions. WonderScope, on the other hand, uses a much more practical method to identify the location of a smartphone on the surface of an exhibit. First, it reads a small RFID tag attached to the surface of an object, and calculates the location of the moving smartphone by adding its relative movements based on the readings from an optical displacement sensor and an acceleration sensor. The research team also took into consideration the height of the smartphone, and the characteristics of the surface profile in order to calculate the device’s position more accurately. By attaching or embedding RFID tags on exhibits, visitors can easily experience the effects of a magic AR lens through their smartphones. For its wider use, WonderScope must be able to locate itself from various types of exhibit surfaces. To this end, WoderScope uses readings from an optical displacement sensor and an acceleration sensor with complementary characteristics, allowing stable locating capacities on various textures including paper, stone, wood, plastic, acrylic, and glass, as well as surfaces with physical patterns or irregularities. As a result, WonderScope can identify its location from a distance as close as 4 centimeters from an object, also enabling simple three-dimensional interactions near the surface of the exhibits. The research team developed various case project templates and WonderScope support tools to allow the facile production of smartphone apps that use general-purpose virtual reality (VR) and the game engine Unity. WonderScope is also compatible with various types of devices that run on the Android operating system, including smartwatches, smartphones, and tablets, allowing it to be applied to exhibitions in many forms. < Photo 2. Human body model showing demonstration > < Photo 3. Demonstration of the underground mineral exploration game > < Photo 4. Demonstration of Apollo 11 moon exploration experience > The research team developed WonderScope with funding from the science and culture exhibition enhancement support project by the Ministry of Science and ICT. Between October 27, 2020 and February 28, 2021, WonderScope was used to observe underground volcanic activity and the insides of volcanic rocks at “There Once was a Volcano”, a special exhibition held at the Geological Museum in the Korea institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM). From September 28 to October 3, 2021, it was used to observe the surface of Jung-moon-kyung (a bronze mirror with fine linear design) at the special exhibition “A Bronze Mirror Shines on Science” at the National Science Museum. And from August 2 to October 3, 2022 it was applied to a moon landing simulation at “The Special Exhibition on Moon Exploration”, also at the National Science Museum. Through various field demonstrations over the years, the research team has improved the performance and usability of WonderScope. < Photo 5. Observation of surface corrosion of the main gate > The research team demonstrated WonderScope at the Emerging Technologies forum during ACM SIGGRAPH 2022, a computer graphics and interaction technology conference that was held in Vancouver, Canada between August 8 and 11 this year. At this conference, where the latest interactive technologies are introduced, the team won an Honorable Mention for Best in Show. The judges commented that “WonderScope will be a new technology that provides the audience with a unique joy of participation during their visits to exhibitions and museums.” < Photo 6. Cover of Digital Creativity > WonderScope is a cylindrical “appcessory” module, 5cm in diameter and 4.5cm in height. It is small enough to be easily attached to a smartphone and embedded on most exhibits. Professor Woohun Lee from the KAIST Department of Industrial Design, who supervised the research, said, “WonderScope can be applied to various applications including not only educational, but also industrial exhibitions, in many ways.” He added, “We also expect for it to be used as an interactive teaching tool that stimulates children’s curiosity.” Introductory video of WonderScope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2MyAXRt7h4&t=7s
Globally renowned stained-glass artist Fr. En Joon Kim appointed as a distinguished invited professor in the KAIST Department of Industrial Design
World-renowned master of stained-glass Father En Joong Kim was appointed to a two-year distinguished invited professorship in the KAIST Department of Industrial Design starting August 1, 2022 - Fr. Kim will share his life, spirit, and artistic capabilities with the members of KAIST through special lectures for undergraduate and graduate students, and through a stained-glass piece he will work on and donate to the KAIST Academic and Cultural Complex - The 53-piece work of art will provide KAIST with fresh inspiration and add to its dynamic atmosphere KAIST appointed the world-renowned stained-glass artist and priest Fr. En Joong Kim of the Dominican Order as a distinguished invited professor in the KAIST Department of Industrial Design. His term starts from August 1 of this year and ends on July 31, 2024. The appointment aims to share the life, spirit, and artistic capabilities of Fr. Kim, who is internationally recognized for his creative work. The purpose of the appointment is not only to provide professional advice on lighting color and space, which are core contents of industrial design courses, but also to bring new inspiration to KAIST community. Fr. Kim, who studied in the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University, won the Korean Art Award in 1965, and later studied at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and the Catholic University of Paris. Joining the Dominican Order in France in 1974, he started his career as both a priest and an artist, and continued his artistic activities via 200 exhibitions around the world and by working on the stained-glass windows of 50 European churches. In recognition of the artistic merit of combining colorful tones with the beauty of blank spaces, a distinctive characteristic of Asian art, and Fr. Kim’s contributions to establishing such combinations, Passage Kim En Joong, an art gallery, was founded in Ambert, France in 2019, and for his artwork installed all over France, he was presented with the insignia of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2010. Following the appointment, the KAIST Department of Industrial Design is preparing a special seminar lecture by Fr. Kim under the title “Search the Future”. Fr. Kim will share his experience and philosophy for pursuing aesthetic values and efforts. In addition, the department plans to set up a special studio for Fr. Kim to both work and interact with students, encouraging them to naturally communicate and share ideas together. One of Fr. Kim's art piece being installed at the main administration building at KAIST. In a studio at the KAIST Academic Cultural Complex (ACC), Fr. Kim is currently working on his 53-piece stained-glass project that, when finished, will be added to the ACC. KAISTians will be able to enjoy a master’s art on a daily basis as the 53 sheets of glasses combine to form one magnificent piece. Fr. Kim said, “I am very happy to be a distinguished invited professor at KAIST, where excellent scientists are at work. It is my wish and prayer that my presence here may comfort the students’ hearts with artwork and art philosophy that carries sensitivity and sincerity, and that they may garner richer experiences.” KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee said, “The purpose of research and art are similar in that they pioneer through endless contemplations and attempts. The art piece to be installed at ACC, which will combine 53 pieces of stained glass, resembles our school, where our members each with their own distinctive colors and textures come together create a harmonious new form known as KAIST.” He added, “I hope that the artistic spirit of Fr. Kim, a world-class master, will be a beacon that would bring a new type of stimulation and ease here at KAIST” KAIST also appointed world-renowned soprano Sumi Jo as a distinguished invited professor in the Graduate School of Culture Technology in October 2021, and SM Entertainment’s executive producer Soo-man Lee as a distinguished invited professor in the School of Computing in March 2022. KAIST continues to expand and incorporate science and technology into the fields of art and culture, and to establish itself as a place for joint research and creative endeavors.
A KAIST Research Team Develops Diesel Reforming Catalyst Enabling Hydrogen Production for Future Mobile Fuel Cells
This catalyst capability allowing stable hydrogen production from commercial diesel is expected to be applied in mobile fuel cell systems in the future hydrogen economy On August 16, a joint research team led by Professors Joongmyeon Bae and Kang Taek Lee of KAIST’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Chan-Woo Lee of Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) announced the successful development of a highly active and durable reforming catalyst allowing hydrogen production from commercial diesel. Fuel reforming is a hydrogen production technique that extracts hydrogen from hydrocarbons through catalytic reactions. Diesel, being a liquid fuel, has a high storage density for hydrogen and is easy to transport and store. There have therefore been continuous research efforts to apply hydrogel supply systems using diesel reformation in mobile fuel cells, such as for auxiliary power in heavy trucks or air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems in submarines. However, diesel is a mixture of high hydrocarbons including long-chained paraffin, double-bonded olefin, and aromatic hydrocarbons with benzene groups, and it requires a highly active catalyst to effectively break them down. In addition, the catalyst must be extremely durable against caulking and sintering, as they are often the main causes of catalyst degradation. Such challenges have limited the use of diesel reformation technologies to date. The joint research team successfully developed a highly active and durable diesel reforming catalyst through elution (a heat treatment method used to uniformly grow active metals retained in an oxide support as ions in the form of metal nanoparticles), forming alloy nanoparticles. The design was based on the fact that eluted nanoparticles strongly interact with the support, allowing a high degree of dispersion at high temperatures, and that producing an alloy from dissimilar metals can increase the performance of catalysts through a synergistic effect. The research team introduced a solution combustion synthesis method to produce a multi-component catalyst with a trace amount of platinum (Pt) and ruthenium (Ru) penetrated into a ceria (CeO2) lattice, which is a structure commonly used as a support for catalysts in redox reactions. When exposed to a diesel reforming reaction environment, the catalyst induces Pt-Ru alloy nanoparticle formation upon Pt and Ru elution onto the support surface. In addition to the catalyst analysis, the research team also succeeded in characterizing the behaviour of active metal elution and alloy formation from an energetic perspective using a density functional theory-based calculation. In a performance comparison test between the Pt-Ru alloy catalyst against existing single-metal catalysts, the reforming activity was shown to have improved, as it showed a 100% fuel conversion rate even at a low temperature (600oC, compared to the original 800oC). In a long-term durability test (800oC, 200 hours), the catalyst showed commercial stability by successfully producing hydrogen from commercial diesel without performance degradation. The study was conducted by Ph.D. candidate Jaemyung Lee of KAIST’s Department of Mechanical Engineering as the first author. Ph.D. candidate Changho Yeon of KIER, Dr. Jiwoo Oh of KAIST’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Gwangwoo Han of KIER, Ph.D. candidate Jeong Do Yoo of KAIST’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Hyung Joong Yun of the Korea Basic Science Institute contributed as co-authors. Dr. Chan-Woo Lee of KIER and Professors Kang Taek Lee and Joongmyeon Bae of KAIST’s Department of Mechanical Engineering contributed as corresponding authors. The research was published in the online version of Applied Catalysis B: Environmental (IF 24.319, JCR 0.93%) on June 17, under the title “Highly Active and Stable Catalyst with Exsolved PtRu Alloy Nanoparticles for Hydrogen Production via Commercial Diesel Reforming”. Professor Joongmyeon Bae said, “The fact that hydrogen can be stably produced from commercial diesel makes this a very meaningful achievement, and we look forward to this technology contributing to the active introduction of mobile fuel cell systems in the early hydrogen economy.” He added, “Our approach to catalyst design may be applied not only to reforming reactions, but also in various other fields.” This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea through funding from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. Figure. Schematic diagram of high-performance diesel reforming catalyst with eluted platinum-ruthenium alloy nanoparticles and long-term durability verification experiment results for commercial diesel reforming reaction
Phage resistant Escherichia coli strains developed to reduce fermentation failure
A genome engineering-based systematic strategy for developing phage resistant Escherichia coli strains has been successfully developed through the collaborative efforts of a team led by Professor Sang Yup Lee, Professor Shi Chen, and Professor Lianrong Wang. This study by Xuan Zou et al. was published in Nature Communications in August 2022 and featured in Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights. The collaboration by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Wuhan University, the First Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen University, and the KAIST Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has made an important advance in the metabolic engineering and fermentation industry as it solves a big problem of phage infection causing fermentation failure. Systems metabolic engineering is a highly interdisciplinary field that has made the development of microbial cell factories to produce various bioproducts including chemicals, fuels, and materials possible in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, mitigating the impact of worldwide resource depletion and climate change. Escherichia coli is one of the most important chassis microbial strains, given its wide applications in the bio-based production of a diverse range of chemicals and materials. With the development of tools and strategies for systems metabolic engineering using E. coli, a highly optimized and well-characterized cell factory will play a crucial role in converting cheap and readily available raw materials into products of great economic and industrial value. However, the consistent problem of phage contamination in fermentation imposes a devastating impact on host cells and threatens the productivity of bacterial bioprocesses in biotechnology facilities, which can lead to widespread fermentation failure and immeasurable economic loss. Host-controlled defense systems can be developed into effective genetic engineering solutions to address bacteriophage contamination in industrial-scale fermentation; however, most of the resistance mechanisms only narrowly restrict phages and their effect on phage contamination will be limited. There have been attempts to develop diverse abilities/systems for environmental adaptation or antiviral defense. The team’s collaborative efforts developed a new type II single-stranded DNA phosphorothioation (Ssp) defense system derived from E. coli 3234/A, which can be used in multiple industrial E. coli strains (e.g., E. coli K-12, B and W) to provide broad protection against various types of dsDNA coliphages. Furthermore, they developed a systematic genome engineering strategy involving the simultaneous genomic integration of the Ssp defense module and mutations in components that are essential to the phage life cycle. This strategy can be used to transform E. coli hosts that are highly susceptible to phage attack into strains with powerful restriction effects on the tested bacteriophages. This endows hosts with strong resistance against a wide spectrum of phage infections without affecting bacterial growth and normal physiological function. More importantly, the resulting engineered phage-resistant strains maintained the capabilities of producing the desired chemicals and recombinant proteins even under high levels of phage cocktail challenge, which provides crucial protection against phage attacks. This is a major step forward, as it provides a systematic solution for engineering phage-resistant bacterial strains, especially industrial bioproduction strains, to protect cells from a wide range of bacteriophages. Considering the functionality of this engineering strategy with diverse E. coli strains, the strategy reported in this study can be widely extended to other bacterial species and industrial applications, which will be of great interest to researchers in academia and industry alike. Fig. A schematic model of the systematic strategy for engineering phage-sensitive industrial E. coli strains into strains with broad antiphage activities. Through the simultaneous genomic integration of a DNA phosphorothioation-based Ssp defense module and mutations of components essential for the phage life cycle, the engineered E. coli strains show strong resistance against diverse phages tested and maintain the capabilities of producing example recombinant proteins, even under high levels of phage cocktail challenge.
Interactive Map of Metabolical Synthesis of Chemicals
An interactive map that compiled the chemicals produced by biological, chemical and combined reactions has been distributed on the web - A team led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, organized and distributed an all-inclusive listing of chemical substances that can be synthesized using microorganisms - It is expected to be used by researchers around the world as it enables easy assessment of the synthetic pathway through the web. A research team comprised of Woo Dae Jang, Gi Bae Kim, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST reported an interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals. Their research paper “An interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals” was published online in Trends in Biotechnology on August 10, 2022. As a response to rapid climate change and environmental pollution, research on the production of petrochemical products using microorganisms is receiving attention as a sustainable alternative to existing methods of productions. In order to synthesize various chemical substances, materials, and fuel using microorganisms, it is necessary to first construct the biosynthetic pathway toward desired product by exploration and discovery and introduce them into microorganisms. In addition, in order to efficiently synthesize various chemical substances, it is sometimes necessary to employ chemical methods along with bioengineering methods using microorganisms at the same time. For the production of non-native chemicals, novel pathways are designed by recruiting enzymes from heterologous sources or employing enzymes designed though rational engineering, directed evolution, or ab initio design. The research team had completed a map of chemicals which compiled all available pathways of biological and/or chemical reactions that lead to the production of various bio-based chemicals back in 2019 and published the map in Nature Catalysis. The map was distributed in the form of a poster to industries and academia so that the synthesis paths of bio-based chemicals could be checked at a glance. The research team has expanded the bio-based chemicals map this time in the form of an interactive map on the web so that anyone with internet access can quickly explore efficient paths to synthesize desired products. The web-based map provides interactive visual tools to allow interactive visualization, exploration, and analysis of complex networks of biological and/or chemical reactions toward the desired products. In addition, the reported paper also discusses the production of natural compounds that are used for diverse purposes such as food and medicine, which will help designing novel pathways through similar approaches or by exploiting the promiscuity of enzymes described in the map. The published bio-based chemicals map is also available at http://systemsbiotech.co.kr. The co-first authors, Dr. Woo Dae Jang and Ph.D. student Gi Bae Kim, said, “We conducted this study to address the demand for updating the previously distributed chemicals map and enhancing its versatility.” “The map is expected to be utilized in a variety of research and in efforts to set strategies and prospects for chemical production incorporating bio and chemical methods that are detailed in the map.” Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee said, “The interactive bio-based chemicals map is expected to help design and optimization of the metabolic pathways for the biosynthesis of target chemicals together with the strategies of chemical conversions, serving as a blueprint for developing further ideas on the production of desired chemicals through biological and/or chemical reactions.” The interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals.
Shaping the AI Semiconductor Ecosystem
- As the marriage of AI and semiconductor being highlighted as the strategic technology of national enthusiasm, KAIST's achievements in the related fields accumulated through top-class education and research capabilities that surpass that of peer universities around the world are standing far apart from the rest of the pack. As Artificial Intelligence Semiconductor, or a system of semiconductors designed for specifically for highly complicated computation need for AI to conduct its learning and deducing calculations, (hereafter AI semiconductors) stand out as a national strategic technology, the related achievements of KAIST, headed by President Kwang Hyung Lee, are also attracting attention. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIT) of Korea initiated a program to support the advancement of AI semiconductor last year with the goal of occupying 20% of the global AI semiconductor market by 2030. This year, through industry-university-research discussions, the Ministry expanded to the program with the addition of 1.2 trillion won of investment over five years through 'Support Plan for AI Semiconductor Industry Promotion'. Accordingly, major universities began putting together programs devised to train students to develop expertise in AI semiconductors. KAIST has accumulated top-notch educational and research capabilities in the two core fields of AI semiconductor - Semiconductor and Artificial Intelligence. Notably, in the field of semiconductors, the International Solid-State Circuit Conference (ISSCC) is the world's most prestigious conference about designing of semiconductor integrated circuit. Established in 1954, with more than 60% of the participants coming from companies including Samsung, Qualcomm, TSMC, and Intel, the conference naturally focuses on practical value of the studies from the industrial point-of-view, earning the nickname the ‘Semiconductor Design Olympics’. At such conference of legacy and influence, KAIST kept its presence widely visible over other participating universities, leading in terms of the number of accepted papers over world-class schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford for the past 17 years. Number of papers published at the InternationalSolid-State Circuit Conference (ISSCC) in 2022 sorted by nations and by institutions Number of papers by universities presented at the International Solid-State Circuit Conference (ISCCC) in 2006~2022 In terms of the number of papers accepted at the ISSCC, KAIST ranked among top two universities each year since 2006. Looking at the average number of accepted papers over the past 17 years, KAIST stands out as an unparalleled leader. The average number of KAIST papers adopted during the period of 17 years from 2006 through 2022, was 8.4, which is almost double of that of competitors like MIT (4.6) and UCLA (3.6). In Korea, it maintains the second place overall after Samsung, the undisputed number one in the semiconductor design field. Also, this year, KAIST was ranked first among universities participating at the Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits, an academic conference in the field of integrated circuits that rivals the ISSCC. Number of papers adopted by the Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits in 2022 submitted from the universities With KAIST researchers working and presenting new technologies at the frontiers of all key areas of the semiconductor industry, the quality of KAIST research is also maintained at the highest level. Professor Myoungsoo Jung's research team in the School of Electrical Engineering is actively working to develop heterogeneous computing environment with high energy efficiency in response to the industry's demand for high performance at low power. In the field of materials, a research team led by Professor Byong-Guk Park of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering developed the Spin Orbit Torque (SOT)-based Magnetic RAM (MRAM) memory that operates at least 10 times faster than conventional memories to suggest a way to overcome the limitations of the existing 'von Neumann structure'. As such, while providing solutions to major challenges in the current semiconductor industry, the development of new technologies necessary to preoccupy new fields in the semiconductor industry are also very actively pursued. In the field of Quantum Computing, which is attracting attention as next-generation computing technology needed in order to take the lead in the fields of cryptography and nonlinear computation, Professor Sanghyeon Kim's research team in the School of Electrical Engineering presented the world's first 3D integrated quantum computing system at 2021 VLSI Symposium. In Neuromorphic Computing, which is expected to bring remarkable advancements in the field of artificial intelligence by utilizing the principles of the neurology, the research team of Professor Shinhyun Choi of School of Electrical Engineering is developing a next-generation memristor that mimics neurons. The number of papers by the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) and the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), two of the world’s most prestigious academic societies in the field of artificial intelligence (KAIST 6th in the world, 1st in Asia, in 2020) The field of artificial intelligence has also grown rapidly. Based on the number of papers from the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) and the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), two of the world's most prestigious conferences in the field of artificial intelligence, KAIST ranked 6th in the world in 2020 and 1st in Asia. Since 2012, KAIST's ranking steadily inclined from 37th to 6th, climbing 31 steps over the period of eight years. In 2021, 129 papers, or about 40%, of Korean papers published at 11 top artificial intelligence conferences were presented by KAIST. Thanks to KAIST's efforts, in 2021, Korea ranked sixth after the United States, China, United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany in terms of the number of papers published by global AI academic societies. Number of papers from Korea (and by KAIST) published at 11 top conferences in the field of artificial intelligence in 2021 In terms of content, KAIST's AI research is also at the forefront. Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo's research team in the School of Electrical Engineering compensated for the shortcomings of the “edge networks” by implementing artificial intelligence real-time learning networks on mobile devices. In order to materialize artificial intelligence, data accumulation and a huge amount of computation is required. For this, a high-performance server takes care of massive computation, and for the user terminals, the “edge network” that collects data and performs simple computations are used. Professor Yoo's research greatly increased AI’s processing speed and performance by allotting the learning task to the user terminal as well. In June, a research team led by Professor Min-Soo Kim of the School of Computing presented a solution that is essential for processing super-scale artificial intelligence models. The super-scale machine learning system developed by the research team is expected to achieve speeds up to 8.8 times faster than Google's Tensorflow or IBM's System DS, which are mainly used in the industry. KAIST is also making remarkable achievements in the field of AI semiconductors. In 2020, Professor Minsoo Rhu's research team in the School of Electrical Engineering succeeded in developing the world's first AI semiconductor optimized for AI recommendation systems. Due to the nature of the AI recommendation system having to handle vast amounts of contents and user information, it quickly meets its limitation because of the information bottleneck when the process is operated through a general-purpose artificial intelligence system. Professor Minsoo Rhu's team developed a semiconductor that can achieve a speed that is 21 times faster than existing systems using the 'Processing-In-Memory (PIM)' technology. PIM is a technology that improves efficiency by performing the calculations in 'RAM', or random-access memory, which is usually only used to store data temporarily just before they are processed. When PIM technology is put out on the market, it is expected that fortify competitiveness of Korean companies in the AI semiconductor market drastically, as they already hold great strength in the memory area. KAIST does not plan to be complacent with its achievements, but is making various plans to further the distance from the competitors catching on in the fields of artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and AI semiconductors. Following the establishment of the first artificial intelligence research center in Korea in 1990, the Kim Jaechul AI Graduate School was opened in 2019 to sustain the supply chain of the experts in the field. In 2020, Artificial Intelligence Semiconductor System Research Center was launched to conduct convergent research on AI and semiconductors, which was followed by the establishment of the AI Institutes to promote “AI+X” research efforts. Based on the internal capabilities accumulated through these efforts, KAIST is also making efforts to train human resources needed in these areas. KAIST established joint research centers with companies such as Naver, while collaborating with local governments such as Hwaseong City to simultaneously nurture professional manpower. Back in 2021, KAIST signed an agreement to establish the Semiconductor System Engineering Department with Samsung Electronics and are preparing a new semiconductor specialist training program. The newly established Department of Semiconductor System Engineering will select around 100 new students every year from 2023 and provide special scholarships to all students so that they can develop their professional skills. In addition, through close cooperation with the industry, they will receive special support which includes field trips and internships at Samsung Electronics, and joint workshops and on-site training. KAIST has made a significant contribution to the growth of the Korean semiconductor industry ecosystem, producing 25% of doctoral workers in the domestic semiconductor field and 20% of CEOs of mid-sized and venture companies with doctoral degrees. With the dawn coming up on the AI semiconductor ecosystem, whether KAIST will reprise the pivotal role seems to be the crucial point of business.
Metabolically Engineered Bacterium Produces Lutein
A research group at KAIST has engineered a bacterial strain capable of producing lutein. The research team applied systems metabolic engineering strategies, including substrate channeling and electron channeling, to enhance the production of lutein in an engineered Escherichia coli strain. The strategies will be also useful for the efficient production of other industrially important natural products used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Figure: Systems metabolic engineering was employed to construct and optimize the metabolic pathways for lutein production, and substrate channeling and electron channeling strategies were additionally employed to increase the production of the lutein with high productivity. Lutein is classified as a xanthophyll chemical that is abundant in egg yolk, fruits, and vegetables. It protects the eye from oxidative damage from radiation and reduces the risk of eye diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts. Commercialized products featuring lutein are derived from the extracts of the marigold flower, which is known to harbor abundant amounts of lutein. However, the drawback of lutein production from nature is that it takes a long time to grow and harvest marigold flowers. Furthermore, it requires additional physical and chemical-based extractions with a low yield, which makes it economically unfeasible in terms of productivity. The high cost and low yield of these bioprocesses has made it difficult to readily meet the demand for lutein. These challenges inspired the metabolic engineers at KAIST, including researchers Dr. Seon Young Park, Ph.D. Candidate Hyunmin Eun, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The team’s study entitled “Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli with electron channeling for the production of natural products” was published in Nature Catalysis on August 5, 2022. This research details the ability to produce lutein from E. coli with a high yield using a cheap carbon source, glycerol, via systems metabolic engineering. The research group focused on solving the bottlenecks of the biosynthetic pathway for lutein production constructed within an individual cell. First, using systems metabolic engineering, which is an integrated technology to engineer the metabolism of a microorganism, lutein was produced when the lutein biosynthesis pathway was introduced, albeit in very small amounts. To improve the productivity of lutein production, the bottleneck enzymes within the metabolic pathway were first identified. It turned out that metabolic reactions that involve a promiscuous enzyme, an enzyme that is involved in two or more metabolic reactions, and electron-requiring cytochrome P450 enzymes are the main bottleneck steps of the pathway inhibiting lutein biosynthesis. To overcome these challenges, substrate channeling, a strategy to artificially recruit enzymes in physical proximity within the cell in order to increase the local concentrations of substrates that can be converted into products, was employed to channel more metabolic flux towards the target chemical while reducing the formation of unwanted byproducts. Furthermore, electron channeling, a strategy similar to substrate channeling but differing in terms of increasing the local concentrations of electrons required for oxidoreduction reactions mediated by P450 and its reductase partners, was applied to further streamline the metabolic flux towards lutein biosynthesis, which led to the highest titer of lutein production achieved in a bacterial host ever reported. The same electron channeling strategy was successfully applied for the production of other natural products including nootkatone and apigenin in E. coli, showcasing the general applicability of the strategy in the research field. “It is expected that this microbial cell factory-based production of lutein will be able to replace the current plant extraction-based process,” said Dr. Seon Young Park, the first author of the paper. She explained that another important point of the research is that integrated metabolic engineering strategies developed from this study can be generally applicable for the efficient production of other natural products useful as pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals. “As maintaining good health in an 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,” explained Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee. This work was supported by the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science & Technology Development funded by the Rural Development Administration of Korea, with further support from the Development of Next-generation Biorefinery Platform Technologies for Leading Bio-based Chemicals Industry Project and by the Development of Platform Technologies of Microbial Cell Factories for the Next-generation Biorefineries Project of the National Research Foundation funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea.
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