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An Improved Carbon Nanotube Semiconductor
Professor Yang-Kyu Choi and his research team of the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST collaborated with Professor Sung-Jin Choi of Kookmin University to develop a large-scale carbon nanotube semiconductor by using a 3-D fin-gate structure with carbon nanotubes on its top. Dong Il Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at KAIST’s Electrical Engineering School, participated in this study as the first author. It was published in ACS Nano on November 10, 2016, and was entitled “Three-Dimensional Fin-Structured Semiconducting Carbon Nanotube Network Transistor.” A semiconductor made with carbon nanotubes operates faster than a silicon semiconductor and requires less energy, yielding higher performance. Most electronic equipment and devices, however, use silicon semiconductors because it is difficult to fabricate highly purified and densely packed semiconductors with carbon nanotubes (CNTs). To date, the performance of CNTs was limited due to their low density. Their purity was also low, so it was impossible to make products that had a constant yield on a large-surface wafer or substrate. These characteristics made the mass production of semiconducting CNTs difficult. To solve these difficulties, the research team used a 3-D fin-gate to vapor-deposit carbon nanotubes on its top. They developed a semiconductor that had a high current density with a width less than 50 nm. The three-dimensional fin structure was able to vapor-deposit 600 carbon nanotubes per micrometer. This structure could have 20 times more nanotubes than the two dimensional structure, which could only vapor-deposit thirty in the same 1 micrometer width. In addition, the research team used semi-conductive carbon nanotubes having a purity rating higher than 99.9% from a previous study to obtain a high yield semiconductor. The semiconductor from the research group has a high current density even with a width less than 50 μm. The new semiconductor is expected to be five times faster than a silicon-based semiconductor and will require five times less electricity during operation. Furthermore, the new semiconductor can be made by or will be compatible with the equipment for producing silicon-based semiconductors, so there will be no additional costs. Researcher Lee said, “As a next generation semiconductor, the carbon nanotube semiconductor will have better performance, and its effectiveness will be higher.” He also added, “Hopefully, the new semiconductor will replace the silicon-based semiconductors in ten years.” This study received support from the Center for Integrated Smart Sensors funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning of Korea as the Global Frontier Project, and from the CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor) THz Technology Convergence Center of the Pioneer Research Center Program sponsored by the National Research Foundation of Korea. Picture 1: 3D Diagram of the Carbon Nanotube Electronic Device and Its Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Image Picture 2: 3D Transistor Device on an 8-inch Base and the SEM Image of Its Cross Section
Professor Dongman Lee Wins the 2016 Korea Internet Award
Professor Dongman Lee of KAIST’s School of Computing received the 11th Korea Internet Award in the category of personal achievement on December 13 at the Creative Economy and Innovation Center in Gyeonggi province. Hosted by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea, the Internet Award recognizes leaders in the Internet industry and their contributions. Since 2010, Professor Lee has conducted research on the Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, resulting in the publication of five research papers in Science Citation Index (SCI) journals, ten papers in Korean journals, 30 best papers nominations at international conferences, and the registration of eleven patents. He has also worked on the creation of an IoT ecosystem through his research on object interworking platforms that can provide diverse user-customized services in the IoT environment. His research team built a test bed for applicable IoT platforms on the 8th floor of the IT Convergence Center on campus to implement experiments and collect various data, thereby creating a foundation to carry out research projects in this field. Professor Lee has helped the advancement of an Internet governance system in Korea by researching Internet governance policies, holding important posts in related academic societies including the Chairman of the Korea Internet Governance Alliance (KIGA) Council, and hosting major conferences such as the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF).
Unveiling the Distinctive Features of Industrial Microorganism
KAIST researchers have sequenced the whole genome of Clostridium tyrobutyricum, which has a higher tolerance to toxic chemicals, such as 1-butanol, compared to other clostridial bacterial strains. Clostridium tyrobutyricum, a Gram-positive, anaerobic spore-forming bacterium, is considered a promising industrial host strain for the production of various chemicals including butyric acid which has many applications in different industries such as a precursor to biofuels. Despite such potential, C. tyrobutyricum has received little attention, mainly due to a limited understanding of its genotypic and metabolic characteristics at the genome level. A Korean research team headed by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) deciphered the genome sequence of C. tyrobutyricum and its proteome profiles during the course of batch fermentation. As a result, the research team learned that the bacterium is not only capable of producing a large amount of butyric acid but also can tolerate toxic compounds such as 1-butanol. The research results were published in mBio on June 14, 2016. The team adopted a genoproteomic approach, combining genomics and proteomics, to investigate the metabolic features of C. tyrobutyricum. Unlike Clostridium acetobutylicum, the most widely used organism for 1-butanol production, C. tyrobutyricum has a novel butyrate-producing pathway and various mechanisms for energy conservation under anaerobic conditions. The expression of various metabolic genes, including those involved in butyrate formation, was analyzed using the “shotgun” proteome approach. To date, the bio-based production of 1-butanol, a next-generation biofuel, has relied on several clostridial hosts including C. acetobutylicum and C. beijerinckii. However, these organisms have a low tolerance against 1-butanol even though they are naturally capable of producing it. C. tyrobutyricum cannot produce 1-butanol itself, but has a higher 1-butanol-tolerance and rapid uptake of monosaccharides, compared to those two species. The team identified most of the genes involved in the central metabolism of C. tyrobutyricum from the whole-genome and shotgun proteome data, and this study will accelerate the bacterium’s engineering to produce useful chemicals including butyric acid and 1-butanol, replacing traditional bacterial hosts. Professor Lee said, “The unique metabolic features and energy conservation mechanisms of C. tyrobutyricum can be employed in the various microbial hosts we have previously developed to further improve their productivity and yield. Moreover, findings on C. tyrobutyricum revealed by this study will be the first step to directly engineer this bacterium.” Director Jin-Woo Kim at the Platform Technology Division of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea, who oversees the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Change, said, “Over the years, Professor Lee’s team has researched the development of a bio-refinery system to produce natural and non-natural chemicals with the systems metabolic engineering of microorganisms. They were able to design strategies for the development of diverse industrial microbial strains to produce useful chemicals from inedible biomass-based carbon dioxide fixation. We believe the efficient production of butyric acid using a metabolic engineering approach will play an important role in the establishment of a bioprocess for chemical production.” The title of the research paper is “Deciphering Clostridium tyrobutyricum Metabolism Based on the Who-Genome Sequence and Proteome Analyses.” (DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00743-16) The lead authors are Joungmin Lee, a post-doctoral fellow in the BioProcess Research Center at KAIST, currently working in CJ CheilJedang Research Institute; Yu-Sin Jang, a research fellow in the BioProcess Research Center at KAIST, currently working at Gyeongsang National University as an assistant professor; and Mee-Jung Han, an assistant professor in the Environmental Engineering and Energy Department at Dongyang University. Jin Young Kim, a senior researcher at the Korea Basic Science Institute, also participated in the research. This research was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Change’s research project entitled “Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries” from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2012M1A2A2026556). Schematic Diagram of C. tyrobutyricum’s Genome Sequence and Its Proteome Profiles The picture below shows the complete genome sequence, global protein expression profiles, and the genome-based metabolic characteristics during batch fermentation of C. tyrobutyricum.
Professors Jeon and Choi Receive the Young Scientist Award
Professors Seokwoo Jeon of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Jang Wook Choi of the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability (EEWS) at KAIST received the Young Scientist Award. The award ceremony took place at the Korea Press Center in Seoul. Presented by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea and the National Academy of Engineering of Korea, the Young Scientist Award is given to outstanding scientists under the age of 40 who have demonstrated excellence in their research in the field of natural science. Each year the award is given to three scientists in different areas. Professor Jeon was recognized for his achievement in creating a new property of materials. He studied synthesis and development of low-dimensional nanomaterials and developed a large area nanostructure. Professor Choi’s research area was to discover optimal materials for rechargeable batteries. By applying his research, he developed rechargeable batteries with high efficiency, making the wearable system more feasible.
KAIST and Four Science and Technology Universities Host a Start-up Competition
KAIST and four other science and technology universities, such as Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), and Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), hosted a startup competition on November 27, 2015 at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. Approximately 150 participants including students from the five universities, "angel" investors, and entrepreneurs attended the competition. The competition was held to promote startups that are based on research achievements in science and technology and to foster entrepreneurs with great potential. Two hundred and sixty applicants from 81 teams competed this year. Only ten teams made it to the finals. KAIST students presented two business plans: an experience-centered education platform and mobile taxi-pooling service. Students from other universities presented a brain-stimulating simulation software (GIST), handy smart health trainer (GIST), real-time reporting system for luggage (DGIST), a flower delivery system (UNIST), surveillance and alarm system for stock-related events via machinery studies (UNIST), augmented emotion toys using augmented reality (POSTECH), and a nasal spray for fine dust prevention (POSTECH). KAIST also displayed an exhibition of “wearable haptic device for multimedia contents” and “next generation recommendation service platform based on one-on-one matching system with high expandability and improved user experience system.” The winning team received an award from the Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea, as well as an opportunity to participate in overseas startup programs over the course of ten days. Joongmyeon Bae, Director of the KAIST Industry and University Cooperation, who organized the contest, said, “The alumni of Stanford University (USA) has annually created over 5.4 million jobs through startup activities. Likewise, we hope that our event will contribute to job creation by fostering innovative entrepreneurs.”
KAIST Hosts the Wearable Computer Contest 2015
“What you see is a compact electronic system on a dust mask, which monitors the amount of dust taken in by a worker and lets other workers know if the person is injured in an industrial site,” said Bum Taek Jung, a Master’s candidate from Sungkyunkwan University during the Wearable Computer Contest 2015 held in KI building of KAIST on November 5, 2015. He explained his interest in developing this system, “Dust-related respiratory diseases and falling accidents are still prevalent in industrial sites.” He added, “Using the smart dust mask helps monitoring workers’ physical condition in real time, allowing us to cope with accidents in a much more timely manner.” A smart dust mask is a portable device that alerts the user with orange or red light signs when the amount of dust inhaled by the user is higher than the threshold. Its application on a smartphone can also allow project managers to alert the risk of falling accidents to workers by employing a gyroscope and an accelerometer on the mask. The Wearable Computer Contest 2015 met for the eleventh time at KAIST on November 5-6, 2015. A wearable computer refers to a portable device which users can wear directly on the body or on their clothes while moving. Products that can provide various services by connecting to a smartphone have become increasingly popular. The contest is an excellent opportunity for university students to design creative wearable systems similar to those often depicted in movies and comics. This year 102 teams from universities all over the nation participated. After screening and evaluation of their presentations, only 8 teams in the product section and 3 teams in the ideas section were selected for the finals. Of the many entries to the contest, the ECG security system caught many people’s attention. The wearable, which attaches to a shirt, acts like an electrocardiogram. By comparing the ECG reading with the one stored in the data server, the wearable can authenticate the user. The system could be widely used by enterprises and financial companies where tight security and authentication are crucial. The winners of the product and the ideas sections received USD 4,300 and usd 860 respectively along with Minister Prizes from the Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea. The Chairman of the contest, Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo from the Electrical Engineering Department of KAIST said, “The contest will be a great opportunity for anyone to have a look at advanced wearable devices developed through close integration of state-of-the-art technologies and creative ideas from young minds.”
Professors Sukbok Chang and Jang-Wook Choi Receive the 2015 Knowledge Award from the Korean Government
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MISP) of the Republic of Korea announced the 2015 Knowledge Awards on October 20, 2015. Two KAIST professors received the award. Established in 2009, the awards are presented to Korean scientists whose publications have contributed to the international science community. Specifically, the MISP used the two biggest science databases, Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and Scopus, to identify ten highly cited papers ranked in the top 1% by total citations in the past ten years. Professor Sukbok Chang of Chemistry (left in the picture below) is a global authority in the field of catalytic hydrocarbon functionalization. His paper entitled “Palladium-catalyzed C-H Functionalization of Pyridine N-Oxides: Highly Selective Alkenylation and Direct Arylation with Unactivated Arenes,” which was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in 2008, was once selected by Thomson Reuters as one of the “Most Influential Research Papers of the Month.” In 2011, the American Chemical Society included his paper in the list of the top 20 research papers that were most frequently cited in the last three years. Professor Jang-Wook Choi of the Graduate School of EEWS (Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability) has been known for his leading research in rechargeable battery, supercapacitor, and materials chemistry. In particular, his work on secondary fuel cells attracted significant attention from academia and industry in Korea. Professor Choi developed a super-thin flexible lithium-ion battery this year, thinner than a credit card, which lasts longer than the existing batteries and with greater performance. He also developed new electrode materials for next-generation sodium-ion and magnesium secondary fuel cells. Professor Sukbok Chang (left) and Professor Jang-Wook Choi (right)
Establishment of System Metabolic Engineering Strategies
Although conventional petrochemical processes have generated chemicals and materials which have been useful to mankind, they have also triggered a variety of environmental problems including climate change and relied too much on nonrenewable natural resources. To ameliorate this, researchers have actively pursued the development of industrial microbial strains around the globe in order to overproduce industrially useful chemicals and materials from microbes using renewable biomass. This discipline is called metabolic engineering. Thanks to advances in genetic engineering and our knowledge of cellular metabolism, conventional metabolic engineering efforts have succeeded to a certain extent in developing microbial strains that overproduce bioproducts at an industrial level. However, many metabolic engineering projects launched in academic labs do not reach commercial markets due to a failure to fully integrate industrial bioprocesses. In response to this, Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee and Dr. Hyun Uk Kim, both from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST, have recently suggested ten general strategies of systems metabolic engineering to successfully develop industrial microbial strains. Systems metabolic engineering differs from conventional metabolic engineering by incorporating traditional metabolic engineering approaches along with tools of other fields, such as systems biology, synthetic biology, and molecular evolution. The ten strategies of systems metabolic engineering have been featured in Nature Biotechnology released online in October 2015, which is entitled "Systems strategies for developing industrial microbial strains." The strategies cover economic, state-of-the-art biological techniques and traditional bioprocess aspects. Specifically, they consist of: 1) project design including economic evaluation of a target bioproduct; 2) selection of host strains to be used for overproduction of a bioproduct; 3) metabolic pathway reconstruction for bioproducts that are not naturally produced in the selected host strains; 4) increasing tolerance of a host strain against the bioproduct; 5) removing negative regulatory circuits in the microbial host limiting overproduction of a bioproduct; 6) rerouting intracellular fluxes to optimize cofactor and precursor availability necessary for the bioproduct formation; 7) diagnosing and optimizing metabolic fluxes towards product formation; 8) diagnosis and optimization of microbial culture conditions including carbon sources; 9) system-wide gene manipulation to further increase the host strain's production performance using high-throughput genome-scale engineering and computational tools; and 10) scale-up fermentation of the developed strain and diagnosis for the reproducibility of the strain's production performance. These ten strategies were articulated with successful examples of the production of L-arginine using Corynebacterium glutamicum, 1,4-butanediol using Escherichia coli, and L-lysine and bio-nylon using C. glutamicum. Professor Sang Yup Lee said, "At the moment, the chance of commercializing microbial strains developed in academic labs is very low. The strategies of systems metabolic engineering outlined in this analysis can serve as guidelines when developing industrial microbial strains. We hope that these strategies contribute to improving opportunities to commercialize microbial strains developed in academic labs with drastically reduced costs and efforts, and that a large fraction of petroleum-based processes will be replaced with sustainable bioprocesses." Lee S. Y. & Kim, H. U. Systems Strategies for Developing Industrial Microbial Strains. Nature Biotechnology (2015). This work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Change on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries (NRF-2012M1A2A2026556) and by the Intelligent Synthetic Biology Center through the Global Frontier Project (2011-0031963) from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), Korea, and through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea. This work was also supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Picture: Concept of the Systems Metabolic Engineering Framework (a) Three major bioprocess stages (b) Considerations in systems metabolic engineering to optimize the whole bioprocess. List of considerations for the strain development and fermentation contribute to improving microbial strain's production performance (red), whereas those for the separation and purification help in reducing overall operation costs by facilitating the downstream process (blue). Some of the considerations can be repeated in the course of systems metabolic engineering.
KAIST to Kick-Start the Exchange of Young Researchers with Northern European Universities
KAIST promotes research exchange and cooperation with three universities in Northern Europe. KAIST has signed a letter of intent (LOI) for the mutual exchange of young researchers and cooperation to collaborate with KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Lund University, both based in Sweden on June 2, 2015, and with Aalto University in Finland on June 4, 2015. This LOI was the result of the cooperative projects of Korea-Sweden and Korea-Finland Joint Committees on Science and Technology supervised by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea. As agreed in the LOI, KAIST will conduct joint research projects with the three universities by providing students and researchers with opportunities to visit each other through internship programs and workshops and by sharing information on education and research. Sung-Hyon Mayeng, the Associate Vice President of the International Relations Office at KAIST, said, “It’s an encouraging sign that universities and governments recognize the importance of increasing exchanges among academic and research communities. Expecting more vibrant relationships to be formed between KAIST and the three northern European universities in coming years, I hope that today’s agreement becomes a good basis to spur technological innovations that will not only benefit the regions but also the world.” Established in 1827, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology is the largest and oldest technical university in Sweden, accounting for one-third of the nation’s technical research and engineering education capacity at university level. The university offers education and research programs from natural sciences to all branches of engineering including architecture, industrial management, and urban planning. According to the QS World University Rankings in 2014, KTH Royal Institute of Technology ranked 27th in engineering and 1st in Northern Europe. Lund University, Sweden, is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in northern Europe, consistently ranking among the world’s top 100 universities. In particular, its biological sciences and engineering have shown great strength, placing within the top 60 universities by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. The university also receives the largest amount of research funding from the Swedish government. Aalto University in Finland was created as a merger of three leading Finnish universities: the Helsinki University of Technology (established 1849), the Helsinki School of Economics (established 1904), and the University of Art and Design Helsinki (established 1871). The university nurtures the close collaborations across science, business, and arts to foster multi-disciplinary education and research.
KAIST Hosts the Wearable Computer Contest 2015
Deadlines for Prototype Contest by May 30, 2015 and August 15 for Idea Contest KAIST will hold the Wearable Computer Contest 2015 in November, which will be sponsored by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Wearable computers have emerged as next-generation mobile devices, and are gaining more popularity with the growth of the Internet of Things. KAIST has introduced wearable devices such as K-Glass 2, a smart glass with augmented reality embedded. The Glass also works on commands by blinking eyes. This year’s contest with the theme of “Wearable Computers for Internet of Things” is divided into two parts: the Prototype Competition and Idea Contest. With the fusion of information technology (IT) and fashion, contestants are encouraged to submit prototypes of their ideas by May 30, 2015. The ten teams that make it to the finals will receive a wearable computer platform and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) education, along with a prize of USD 1,000 for prototype production costs. The winner of the Prototype Contest will receive a prize of USD 5,000 and an award from the Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) of the Republic of Korea. In the Idea Contest, posters containing ideas and concepts of wearable devices should be submitted by August 15, 2015. The teams that make it to the finals will have to display a life-size mockup in the final stage. The winner of the contest will receive a prize of USD 1,000 and an award from the Minister of MSIP. Any undergraduate or graduate student in Korea can enter the Prototype Competition and anyone can participate in the Idea Contest. The chairman of the event, Hoi-Jun Yoo, a professor of the Department of Electrical Engineering at KAIST, noted: “There is a growing interest in wearable computers in the industry. I can easily envisage that there will be a new IT world where wearable computers are integrated into the Internet of Things, healthcare, and smart homes.” More information on the contest can be found online at http://www.ufcom.org. Picture: Finalists in the last year’s contest
KAIST Develops Subminiature, Power-Efficient Air Pollution Sensing Probe
Professor Inkyu Park and his research team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST have developed a subminiature, power-efficient air-pollution sensing probe that can be applied to mobile devices. Their research findings were published online in the January 30th issue of Scientific Reports. As air pollution has increased, people have taken greater interest in health care. The developed technology could allow people to measure independently the air pollution level of their surrounding environments. Previous instruments used to measure air pollution levels were bulky and consumed a lot of power. They also often produced inaccurate results when measuring air pollution in which different toxic gases were mixed. These problems could not be resolved with existing semiconductor manufacturing process. Using local temperature field control technology, Professor Park’s team succeeded in integrating multiple heterogeneous nanomaterials and fitting them onto a small, low-power electronic chip. This microheating sensor can heat microscale regions through local hydrothermal synthesis. Because it requires a miniscale amount of nanomaterials to manufacture, the sensor is most suitable for mobile devices. Professor Park said, “Our research will contribute to the development of convergence technology in such field as air pollution sensing probes, biosensors, electronic devices, and displays.” The team's research was supported by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Republic of Korea. Figure 1 – The Concept of Multiple Nanomaterial Device and Numerical Simulation Results of Precursor Solutions Figure 2 - Multiple Nanomaterial Manufactured in a Microscale Region
Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho Recognzied by "Scientist of the Month" Award
Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho of KAIST’s Department of Bio and Brain Engineering received the “Scientist of the Month” award in February 2015 from the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea. The award was in recognition of Professor Cho’s contribution to the advanced technique of controlling the death of cancer cells based on systems biology, a convergence research in information technology (IT) and biotechnology. Professor Cho has published around 140 articles in international journals, including 34 papers in renowned science journals such as Nature, Science, and Cell in the past three years. His work also includes systems biology textbooks and many entries in international academic encyclopaedia. His field, systems biology, is a new biological research paradigm that identifies and controls the fundamental principles of organisms on a systems level. A well-known tumour suppressor protein, p53, is known to suppress abnormal cell growth and promote apoptosis of can cells, and thus was a focus of research by many scientists, but its effect has been insignificant and brought many side effects. This was due to the complex function of p53 that controls various positive and negative feedbacks. Therefore, there was a limit to understanding the protein with the existing biological approach. However, Professor Cho found the kinetic change and function of p53 via a systems biology approach. By applying IT technology to complex biological networks, he also identified the response to stress and the survival and death signal transduction pathways of cardiomyocytes and developed new control methods for cancer cells. Professor Cho said, “This award served as a momentum to turn over a new leaf.” He added, “I hope convergence research such as my field will bring more innovative ideas on the boundaries of academia.”
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