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“3D sketch” Your Ideas and Bring Them to Life, Instantly!
Professor Seok-Hyung Bae’s research team at the Department of Industrial Design developed a novel 3D sketching system that rapidly creates animated 3D concepts through simple user interactions like sketching on a piece of paper or playing a toy. Foldable drones, transforming vehicles, and multi-legged robots from sci-fi movies are now becoming commonplace thanks to technological progress. However, designing them remains a difficult challenge even for skilled experts, because complex design decisions must be made regarding not only their form, but also the structure, poses, and motions, which are interdependent on one another. Creating a 3D concept comprising of multiple moving parts connected by different types of joints using a traditional 3D CAD tool, which is more suited for processing precise and elaborate modeling, is a painstaking and time-consuming process. This presents a major bottleneck for the workflow during the early stage of design, in which it is preferred that as many ideas are tried and discarded out as quickly as possible in order to explore a wide range of possibilities in the shortest amount of time. A research team led by Professor Bae has focused on designers’ freehand sketches drew up with a pen on a paper that serve as the starting point for virtually all design projects. This led them to develop their 3D sketching technology to generate desired 3D curves from the rough but expressive 2D strokes drawn with a digital stylus on a digital tablet. Their latest research helps designers bring their 3D sketches to life almost instantly. Using the intuitive set of multi-touch gestures the team successfully designed and implemented, designers can handle the 3D sketches they are working on with their fingers as if they are playing with toys and put them into animation in no time. < Figure 1. A novel 3D sketching system for rapidly designing articulated 3D concepts with a small set of coherent pen and multi-touch gestures. (a) Sketching: A 3D sketch curve is created by marking a pen stroke that is projected onto a sketch plane widget. (b) Segmenting: Entire or partial sketch curves are added to separate parts that serve as links in the kinematic chain. (c) Rigging: Repeatedly demonstrating the desired motion of a part leaves behind a trail, from which the system infers a joint. (d) Posing: Desired poses can be achieved through actuating joints via forward or inverse kinematics. (e) Filming: A sequence of keyframes specifying desired poses and viewpoints is connected as a smooth motion. > < Figure 2. (a) Concept drawing of an autonomous excavator. It features (b, c) four caterpillars that swivel for high maneuverability, (d) an extendable boom and a bucket connected by multiple links, and (e) a rotating platform. The concept’s designer, who had 8 years of work experience, estimated that it would take 1-2 weeks to express and communicate such a complex articulated object with existing tools. With the proposed system, it took only 2 hours and 52 minutes. > The major findings of their work were published under the title “Rapid Design of Articulated Objects” in ACM Transactions on Graphics (impact factor: 7.403), the top international journal in the field of computer graphics, and presented at ACM SIGGRAPH 2022 (h5-index: 103), the world’s largest international academic conference in the field, which was held back in August in Vancouver, Canada with Joon Hyub Lee, a Ph.D. student of the Department of Industrial Design as the first author. The ACM SIGGRAPH 2022 conference was reportedly attended by over 10,000 participants including researchers, artists, and developers from world-renowned universities; film, animation, and game studies, such as Marvel, Pixar, and Blizzard; high-tech manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin and Boston Dynamics; and metaverse platform companies, such as Meta and Roblox. < Figure 3. The findings of Professor Bae’s research team were published in ACM Transactions on Graphics, the top international academic journal in the field of computer graphics, and presented at ACM SIGGRAPH 2022, the largest international academic conference held in conjunction early August in Vancouver, Canada. The team’s live demo at the Emerging Technologies program was highly praised by numerous academics and industry officials and received an Honorable Mention. > The team was also invited to present their technical paper as a demo and a special talk at the Emerging Technologies program at ACM SIGGRAPH 2022 as one of the top-three impactful technologies. The live performance, in which Hanbit Kim, a Ph.D. student of the Department of Industrial Design at KAIST and a co-author, sketched and animated a sophisticated animal-shaped robot from scratch in a matter of a few minutes, wowed the audience and won the Honorable Mention Award from the jury. Edwin Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar and a keynote speaker at the SIGGRAPH conference, praised the team’s research on 3D sketching as “really excellent work” and “a kind of tool that would be useful to Pixar's creative model designers.” This technology, which became virally popular in Japan after featuring in an online IT media outlet and attracting more than 600K views, received a special award from the Digital Content Association of Japan (DCAJ) and was invited and exhibited for three days at Tokyo in November, as a part of Inter BEE 2022, the largest broadcasting and media expo in Japan. “The more we come to understand how designers think and work, the more effective design tools can be built around that understanding,” said Professor Bae, explaining that “the key is to integrate different algorithms into a harmonious system as intuitive interactions.” He added that “this work wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the convergent research environment cultivated by the Department of Industrial Design at KAIST, in which all students see themselves not only as aspiring creative designers, but also as practical engineers.” By enabling designers to produce highly expressive animated 3D concepts far more quickly and easily in comparison to using existing methods, this new tool is expected to revolutionize design practices and processes in the content creation, manufacturing, and metaverse-related industries. This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT, and the National Research Foundation of Korea. More info: https://sketch.kaist.ac.kr/publications/2022_siggraph_rapid_design Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsBl0QvSDqI < Figure 4. From left to right: Ph.D. students Hanbit Kim, and Joon Hyub Lee and Professor Bae of the Department of Industrial Design, KAIST >
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.
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
KAIST develops biocompatible adhesive applicable to hair transplants
Aside from being used as a new medical adhesive, the new material can be applied to developing a new method of hair transplants, which cannot be repeated multiple times using current method of implanting the wholly intact follicles into the skin. Medical adhesives are materials that can be applied to various uses such as wound healing, hemostasis, vascular anastomosis, and tissue engineering, and is expected to contribute greatly to the development of minimally invasive surgery and organ transplants. However, adhesives with high adhesion, low toxicity, and capable of decomposing in the body are rare. Adhesives based on natural proteins, such as fibrin and collagen, have high biocompatibility but insufficient adhesive strength. Synthetic polymer adhesives based on urethane or acrylic have greater adhesion but do not decompose well and may cause an inflammatory reaction in the body. A joint research team led by Professor Myungeun Seo and Professor Haeshin Lee from the KAIST Department of Chemistry developed a bio-friendly adhesive from biocompatible polymers using tannic acid, the source of astringency in wine. The research team focused on tannic acid, a natural polyphenolic product. Tannic acid is a polyphenol present in large amounts in fruit peels, nuts, and cacao. It has a high affinity and coating ability on other substances, and we sense the astringent taste in wine when tannic acid sticks to the surface of our tongue. When tannic acid is mixed with hydrophilic polymers, they form coacervates, or small droplets of jelly-like fluids that sink. If the polymers used are biocompatible, the mixture can be applied as a medical adhesive with low toxicity. However, coacervates are fundamentally fluid-like and cannot withstand large forces, which limits their adhesive capabilities. Thus, while research to utilize it as an adhesive has been actively discussed, a biodegradable material exhibiting strong adhesion due to its high shear strength has not yet been developed. The research team figured out a way to enhance adhesion by mixing two biocompatible FDA-approved polymers, polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polylactic acid (PLA). While PEG, which is used widely in eyedrops and cream, is hydrophilic, PLA, a well-known bioplastic derived from lactic acid, is insoluble in water. The team combined the two into a block copolymer, which forms hydrophilic PLA aggregates in water with PEG blocks surrounding them. A coacervate created by mixing the micelles and tannic acid would behave like a solid due to the hard PLA components, and show an elastic modulus improved by a thousand times compared to PEG, enabling it to withstand much greater force as an adhesive. Figure 1. (Above) Principle of biodegradable adhesive made by mixing poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(lactic acid) diblock copolymer and tannic acid in water. Yellow coacervate is precipitated through hydrogen bonding between the block copolymer micelles and tannic acid, and exhibits adhesion. After heat treatment, hydrogen bonds are rearranged to further improve adhesion. (Bottom) Adhesion comparison. Compared to using poly(ethylene glycol) polymer (d), it can support 10 times more weight when using block copolymer (e) and 60 times more weight after heat treatment (f). The indicated G' values represent the elastic modulus of the material. Furthermore, the research team observed that the material’s mechanical properties can be improved by over a hundred times through a heating and cooling process that is used to heat-treat metals. They also discovered that this is due to the enforced interactions between micelle and tannic acid arrays. The research team used the fact that the material shows minimal irritation to the skin and decomposes well in the body to demonstrate its possible application as an adhesive for hair transplantation through an animal experiment. Professor Haeshin Lee, who has pioneered various application fields including medical adhesives, hemostatic agents, and browning shampoo, focused on the adhesive capacities and low toxicity of polyphenols like tannic acid, and now looks forward to it improving the limitations of current hair transplant methods, which still involve follicle transfer and are difficult to be repeated multiple times. Figure 2. (a) Overview of a hair transplantation method using a biodegradable adhesive (right) compared to a conventional hair transplantation method (left) that transplants hair containing hair follicles. After applying an adhesive to the tip of the hair, it is fixed to the skin by implanting it through a subcutaneous injection, and repeated treatment is possible. (b) Initial animal test results. One day after 15 hair transplantation, 12 strands of hair remain. If you pull the 3 strands of hair, you can see that the whole body is pulled up, indicating that it is firmly implanted into the skin. All strands of hair applied without the new adhesive material fell off, and in the case of adhesive without heat treatment, the efficiency was 1/7. This research was conducted by first co-authors Dr. Jongmin Park (currently a senior researcher at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology) from Professor Myeongeun Seo’s team and Dr. Eunsook Park from Professor Haeshin Lee’s team in the KAIST Department of Chemistry, and through joint research with the teams led by Professor Hyungjun Kim from the KAIST Department of Chemistry and Professor Siyoung Choi from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The research was published online on August 22 in the international journal Au (JACS Au) under the title Biodegradable Block Copolymer-Tannic Acid Glue. This study was funded by the Support Research Under Protection Project of the National Research Foundation (NRF), Leading Research Center Support Project (Research Center for Multiscale Chiral Structure), Biodegradable Plastics Commercialization and Demonstration Project by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and institutional funding from the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology.
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
Establishing a novel strategy to tackle Huntington’s disease
A platform to take on the Huntington’s disease via an innovative approach established by KAIST’s researchers through international collaboration with scientists in the Netherlands, France, and Sweden. Through an international joint research effort involving ProQR Therapeutics of the Netherlands, Université Grenoble Alpes of France, and KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden, Professor Ji-Soon Song's research team in the Department of Biological Sciences and KAIST Institute for BioCentury of KAIST, established a noble strategy to treat Huntington's disease. The new works showed that the protein converted from disease form to its disease-free form maintains its original function, providing new roadblocks to approach Huntington’s disease. This research, titled, “A pathogenic-proteolysis resistant huntingtin isoform induced by an antisense oligonucleotide maintains huntingtin function”, co-authored by Hyeongju Kim, was published in the online edition of 'Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight' on August 9, 2022. Huntington's disease is a dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease and is caused by a mutation in a protein called ‘huntingtin’, which adds a distinctive feature of an expanded stretch of glutamine amino acids called polyglutamine to the protein. It is estimated that one in every 10,000 have Huntington's disease in United States. The patients would suffer a decade of regression before death, and, thus far, there is no known cure for the disease. The cleavage near the stretched polyglutamine in mutated huntingtin is known to be the cause of the Huntington’s disease. However, as huntingtin protein is required for the development and normal function of the brain, it is critical to specifically eliminate the disease-causing protein while maintaining the ones that are still normally functioning. The research team showed that huntingtin delta 12, the converted form of huntingtin that is resistant to developing cleavages at the ends of the protein, the known cause of the Huntington’s disease (HD), alleviated the disease’s symptoms while maintaining the functions of normal huntingtin. Figure. Huntington's disease resistance huntingtin protein induced by antisense oligonucleotide (AON) is resistant to Caspase-6 cleavage, therefore, does not cause Huntington’s disease while maintaining normal functions of huntingtin. The research was welcomed as it is sure to fuel innovate strategies to tackle Huntington’s disease without altering the essential function of huntingtin. This work was supported by a Global Research Lab grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and by a EUREKA Eurostars 2 grant from European Union Horizon 2020.
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.
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