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New Chiral Nanostructures to Extend the Material Platform
Researchers observed a wide window of chiroptical activity from nanomaterials A research team transferred chirality from the molecular scale to a microscale to extend material platforms and applications. The optical activity from this novel chiral material encompasses to short-wave infrared region. This platform could serve as a powerful strategy for hierarchical chirality transfer through self-assembly, generating broad optical activity and providing immense applications including bio, telecommunication, and imaging technique. This is the first observation of such a wide window of chiroptical activity from nanomaterials. “We synthesized chiral copper sulfides using cysteine, as the stabilizer, and transferring the chirality from molecular to the microscale through self-assembly,” explained Professor Jihyeon Yeom from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who led the research. The result was reported in ACS Nano on September 14. Chiral nanomaterials provide a rich platform for versatile applications. Tuning the wavelength of polarization rotation maxima in the broad range is a promising candidate for infrared neural stimulation, imaging, and nanothermometry. However, the majority of previously developed chiral nanomaterials revealed the optical activity in a relatively shorter wavelength range, not in short-wave infrared. To achieve chiroptical activity in the short-wave infrared region, materials should be in sub-micrometer dimensions, which are compatible with the wavelength of short-wave infrared region light for strong light-matter interaction. They also should have the optical property of short-wave infrared region absorption while forming a structure with chirality. Professor Yeom’s team induced self-assembly of the chiral nanoparticles by controlling the attraction and repulsion forces between the building block nanoparticles. During this process, molecular chirality of cysteine was transferred to the nanoscale chirality of nanoparticles, and then transferred to the micrometer scale chirality of nanoflowers with 1.5-2 2 μm dimensions formed by the self-assembly. “We will work to expand the wavelength range of chiroptical activity to the short-wave infrared region, thus reshaping our daily lives in the form of a bio-barcode that can store vast amount of information under the skin,” said Professor Yeom. This study was funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the National Research Foundation of Korea,the KAIST URP Program, the KAIST Creative Challenging Research Program, Samsung and POSCO Science Fellowship. -PublicationKi Hyun Park, Junyoung Kwon, Uichang Jeong, Ji-Young Kim, Nicholas A.Kotov, Jihyeon Yeom, “Broad Chrioptical Activity from Ultraviolet to Short-Wave Infrared by Chirality Transfer from Molecular to Micrometer Scale," September 14, 2021 ACS Nano (https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c05888) -ProfileProfessor Jihyeon YeomNovel Nanomaterials for New Platforms LaboratoryDepartment of Materials Science and EngineeringKAIST
Undergrad's Paper Chosen as the Cover Article in Soft Matter
(from left: Research Professor KyuHan Kim and Undergrad Student Subeen Kim) A KAIST undergraduate student, Subeen Kim, had his paper chosen as the cover article in an international journal during his senior year. There have been an increasing number of undergraduate students who were published as the first author because the KAIST Undergraduate Research Participation program allows more active research participation by undergraduate students. Through URP, Kim successfully published his paper in the internationally-renowned journal, Soft Matter, which is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and it was chosen as the cover article of that journal in February 2018. This publication means a lot to him because he designed the cover image himself, based on his imagination and observations. His research is about controllable one-step double emulsion formation. Double emulsion is a system in which dispersed droplets contain additional immiscible liquid droplets. Having great retention ability, double emulsion has been used in various applications in the food industry, in cosmetics, and for drug delivery. Nevertheless, two-step emulsification is a conventional approach to produce double emulsions that typically leads to partial destabilization of the emulsion formed during the initial stage. Hence, it does not ensure the stability of a double emulsion. On the other hand, a microfluidic approach with various flow-focusing techniques has been developed, but it has low production efficiency and thus limited industrial applications. Kim’s results came from the process of phase inversion to solve this problem. He identified the instant formation of double emulsions during the process of phase inversion. Based on this finding, he proposed criteria to achieve high stability of double emulsion. Through constant research, he developed a quite general method using a combination of an oil soluble poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA) and hydrophobic silica nanoparticle (HDK H18). This new method enables one-step and stable production of double emersions in a stable manner. It also allows control of the number and the volume of inner oil droplets inside the outer water droplets by adjusting PMMA and HDK H18. Kim enrolled at KAIST as a KAIST Presidential Fellowship and Presidential Science Scholarship in 2014. While studying both chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry he has been developing his hypothesis and conducting research. He was able to begin conducting research because he has taken part in URP projects twice. In his sophomore year, he studied the formation of high internal phase double emulsions. After one year, he conducted research to produce superabsorbent resins, which are the base material for diapers, by using colloid particles. Using partial research outcomes, he published his paper in Nature Communications as a second author. Kim said, “Double majoring the chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry has helped me producing this outcome. I hope that this research contributes to commercializing double emulsions. I will continue to identify accurate principles to produce chemicals that can be controlled exquisitely.” Figure 1. The cover article of Soft Matter
A Molecular Switch Controlling Self-Assembly of Protein Nanotubes Discovered
International collaborative research among South Korea, United States, and Israel research institutionsThe key to the treatment of cancer and brain disease mechanism The molecular switch that controls the self-assembly structure of the protein nanotubes, which plays crucial role in cell division and intracellular transport of materials, has been discovered. KAIST Bio and Brain Engineering Department’s Professor Myeong-Cheol Choi and Professor Chae-Yeon Song conducted the research, in collaboration with the University of California in Santa Barbara, U.S., and Hebrew University in Israel. The findings of the research were published in Nature Materials on the 19th. Microtubules are tube shaped and composed of protein that plays a key role in cell division, cytoskeleton, and intercellular material transport and is only 25nm in diameter (1/100,000 thickness of a human hair). Conventionally, cancer treatment focused on disrupting the formation of microtubules to suppress the division of cancer cells. In addition Alzheimer’s is known to be caused by the diminishing of structural integrity of microtubules responsible for intercellular material transport which leads to failure in signal transfer. The research team utilized synchrotron x-ray scattering and transmission electron microscope to analyze the self assemble structure of protein nanotubes to subnanometer accuracy. As a result, the microtubules were found to assemble into 25nm thickness tubules by stacking protein blocks 4 x 5 x 8nm in dimension. In the process, the research team discovered the molecular switch that controls the shape of these protein blocks. In addition the research team was successful in creating a new protein tube structure. Professor Choi commented that they were successful in introducing a new paradigm that suggests the possibility of controlling the complex biological functions of human’s biological system with the simple use of physical principles. He commented further that it is anticipated that the findings will allow for the application of bio nanotubes in engineering and that this is a small step in finding the mechanism behind cancer treatment and neural diseases.
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