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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
Now You Can See Floral Scents!
Optical interferometry visualizes how often lilies emit volatile organic compounds Have you ever thought about when flowers emit their scents? KAIST mechanical engineers and biological scientists directly visualized how often a lily releases a floral scent using a laser interferometry method. These measurement results can provide new insights for understanding and further exploring the biosynthesis and emission mechanisms of floral volatiles. Why is it important to know this? It is well known that the fragrance of flowers affects their interactions with pollinators, microorganisms, and florivores. For instance, many flowering plants can tune their scent emission rates when pollinators are active for pollination. Petunias and the wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata emit floral scents at night to attract night-active pollinators. Thus, visualizing scent emissions can help us understand the ecological evolution of plant-pollinator interactions. Many groups have been trying to develop methods for scent analysis. Mass spectrometry has been one widely used method for investigating the fragrance of flowers. Although mass spectrometry reveals the quality and quantity of floral scents, it is impossible to directly measure the releasing frequency. A laser-based gas detection system and a smartphone-based detection system using chemo-responsive dyes have also been used to measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in real-time, but it is still hard to measure the time-dependent emission rate of floral scents. However, the KAIST research team co-led by Professor Hyoungsoo Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Sang-Gyu Kim from the Department of Biological Sciences measured a refractive index difference between the vapor of the VOCs of lilies and the air to measure the emission frequency. The floral scent vapor was detected and the refractive index of air was 1.0 while that of the major floral scent of a linalool lily was 1.46. Professor Hyoungsoo Kim said, “We expect this technology to be further applicable to various industrial sectors such as developing it to detect hazardous substances in a space.” The research team also plans to identify the DNA mechanism that controls floral scent secretion. The current work entitled “Real-time visualization of scent accumulation reveals the frequency of floral scent emissions” was published in ‘Frontiers in Plant Science’ on April 18, 2022. (https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2022.835305). This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2021R1A2C2007835), the Rural Development Administration (PJ016403), and the KAIST-funded Global Singularity Research PREP-Program. -Publication:H. Kim, G. Lee, J. Song, and S.-G. Kim, "Real-time visualization of scent accumulation reveals the frequency of floral scent emissions," Frontiers in Plant Science 18, 835305 (2022) (https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2022.835305) -Profile:Professor Hyoungsoo Kimhttp://fil.kaist.ac.kr @MadeInH on TwitterDepartment of Mechanical EngineeringKAIST Professor Sang-Gyu Kimhttps://sites.google.com/view/kimlab/home Department of Biological SciencesKAIST
Thermal Superconductor Lab Becomes the 7th Cross-Generation Collaborative Lab
The Thermal Superconductor Lab led by Senior Professor Sung Jin Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering will team up with Junior Professor Youngsuk Nam to develop next-generation superconductors. The two professor team was selected as the 7th Cross-Generation Collaborative Lab last week and will sustain the academic legacy of Professor Kim’s three decades of research on superconductors. The team will continue to develop thin, next-generation superconductors that carry super thermal conductivity using phase transition control technology and thin film packaging. Thin-filmed, next-generation superconductors can be used in various high-temperature flexible electronic devices. The superconductors built inside of the semiconductor device packages will also be used for managing the low-powered but high-performance temperatures of semiconductor and electronic equipment. Professor Kim said, “I am very pleased that my research, know-how, and knowledge from over 30 years of work will continue through the Cross-Generation Collaborative Lab system with Professor Nam. We will spare no effort to advance superconductor technology and play a part in KAIST leading global technology fields.” Junior Professor Nam also stressed that the team is excited to continue its research on crucial technology for managing the temperatures of semiconductors and other electronic equipment. KAIST started this innovative research system in 2018, and in 2021 it established the steering committee to select new labs based on: originality, differentiation, and excellence; academic, social, economic impact; the urgency of cross-generation research; the senior professor’s academic excellence and international reputation; and the senior professor’s research vision. Selected labs receive 500 million KRW in research funding over five years.
Eco-Friendly Micro-Supercapacitors Using Fallen Leaves
Green micro-supercapacitors on a single leaf could easily be applied in wearable electronics, smart houses, and IoTs A KAIST research team has developed graphene-inorganic-hybrid micro-supercapacitors made of fallen leaves using femtosecond laser direct writing. The rapid development of wearable electronics requires breakthrough innovations in flexible energy storage devices in which micro-supercapacitors have drawn a great deal of interest due to their high power density, long lifetimes, and short charging times. Recently, there has been an enormous increase in waste batteries owing to the growing demand and the shortened replacement cycle in consumer electronics. The safety and environmental issues involved in the collection, recycling, and processing of such waste batteries are creating a number of challenges. Forests cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and produce a huge amount of fallen leaves. This naturally occurring biomass comes in large quantities and is completely biodegradable, which makes it an attractive sustainable resource. Nevertheless, if the fallen leaves are left neglected instead of being used efficiently, they can contribute to fire hazards, air pollution, and global warming. To solve both problems at once, a research team led by Professor Young-Jin Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Hana Yoon from the Korea Institute of Energy Research developed a novel technology that can create 3D porous graphene microelectrodes with high electrical conductivity by irradiating femtosecond laser pulses on the leaves in ambient air. This one-step fabrication does not require any additional materials or pre-treatment. They showed that this technique could quickly and easily produce porous graphene electrodes at a low price, and demonstrated potential applications by fabricating graphene micro-supercapacitors to power an LED and an electronic watch. These results open up a new possibility for the mass production of flexible and green graphene-based electronic devices. Professor Young-Jin Kim said, “Leaves create forest biomass that comes in unmanageable quantities, so using them for next-generation energy storage devices makes it possible for us to reuse waste resources, thereby establishing a virtuous cycle.” This research was published in Advanced Functional Materials last month and was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, the Korea Forest Service, and the Korea Institute of Energy Research. -Publication Truong-Son Dinh Le, Yeong A. Lee, Han Ku Nam, Kyu Yeon Jang, Dongwook Yang, Byunggi Kim, Kanghoon Yim, Seung Woo Kim, Hana Yoon, and Young-jin Kim, “Green Flexible Graphene-Inorganic-Hybrid Micro-Supercapacitors Made of Fallen Leaves Enabled by Ultrafast Laser Pulses," December 05, 2021, Advanced Functional Materials (doi.org/10.1002/adfm.202107768) -ProfileProfessor Young-Jin KimUltra-Precision Metrology and Manufacturing (UPM2) LaboratoryDepartment of Mechanical EngineeringKAIST
Nanoscale Self-Assembling Salt-Crystal ‘Origami’ Balls Envelop Liquids
Mechanical engineers have devised a ‘crystal capillary origami’ technique where salt crystals spontaneously encapsulate liquid droplets Researchers have developed a technique whereby they can spontaneously encapsulate microscopic droplets of water and oil emulsion in a tiny sphere made of salt crystals—sort of like a minute, self-constructing origami soccer ball filled with liquid. The process, which they are calling ‘crystal capillary origami,’ could be used in a range of fields from more precise drug delivery to nanoscale medical devices.The technique is described in a paper appearing in the journal Nanoscale on September 21. Capillary action, or ‘capillarity,’ will be familiar to most people as the way that water or other liquids can move up narrow tubes or other porous materials seemingly in defiance of gravity (for example within the vascular systems of plants, or even more simply, the drawing up of paint between the hairs of a paintbrush). This effect is due to the forces of cohesion (the tendency of a liquid’s molecules to stick together), which results in surface tension, and adhesion (their tendency to stick to the surface of other substances). The strength of the capillarity depends on the chemistry of the liquid, the chemistry of the porous material, and on the other forces acting on them both. For example, a liquid with lower surface tension than water would not be able to hold up a water strider insect. Less well known is a related phenomenon, elasto-capillarity, that takes advantage of the relationship between capillarity and the elasticity of a very tiny flat sheet of a solid material. In certain circumstances, the capillary forces can overcome the elastic bending resistance of the sheet. This relationship can be exploited to create ‘capillary origami,’ or three-dimensional structures. When a liquid droplet is placed on the flat sheet, the latter can spontaneously encapsulate the former due to surface tension. Capillary origami can take on other forms including wrinkling, buckling, or self-folding into other shapes. The specific geometrical shape that the 3D capillary origami structure ends up taking is determined by both the chemistry of the flat sheet and that of the liquid, and by carefully designing the shape and size of the sheet. There is one big problem with these small devices, however. “These conventional self-assembled origami structures cannot be completely spherical and will always have discontinuous boundaries, or what you might call ‘edges,’ as a result of the original two-dimensional shape of the sheet,” said Kwangseok Park, a lead researcher on the project. He added, “These edges could turn out to be future defects with the potential for failure in the face of increased stress.” Non-spherical particles are also known to be more disadvantageous than spherical particles in terms of cellular uptake. Professor Hyoungsoo Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering explained, “This is why researchers have long been on the hunt for substances that could produce a fully spherical capillary origami structure.” The authors of the study have demonstrated such an origami sphere for the first time. They showed how instead of a flat sheet, the growth of salt-crystals can perform capillary origami action in a similar manner. What they call ‘crystal capillary origami’ spontaneously constructs a smooth spherical shell capsule from these same surface tension eﬀects, but now the spontaneous encapsulation of a liquid is determined by the elasto-capillary conditions of growing crystals. Here, the term ‘salt’ refers to a compound of one positively charged ion and another negatively charged. Table salt, or sodium chloride, is just one example of a salt. The researchers used four other salts: calcium propionate, sodium salicylate, calcium nitrate tetrahydrate, and sodium bicarbonate to envelop a water-oil emulsion. Normally, a salt such as sodium chloride has a cubical crystal structure, but these four salts form plate-like structures as crystallites or ‘grains’ (the microscopic shape that forms when a crystal first starts to grow) instead. These plates then self-assemble into perfect spheres. Using scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diﬀraction analysis, they investigated the mechanism of such formation and concluded that it was ‘Laplace pressure’ that drives the crystallite plates to cover the emulsion surface. Laplace pressure describes the pressure difference between the interior and exterior of a curved surface caused by the surface tension at the interface between the two substances, in this case between the salt water and the oil. The researchers hope that these self-assembling nanostructures can be used for encapsulation applications in a range of sectors, from the food industry and cosmetics to drug delivery and even tiny medical devices. -Publication Kwangseok Park, Hyoungsoo Kim “Crystal capillary origami capsule with self-assembled nanostructure,” Nanoscale, 13(35), 14656-14665 (DOI: 10.1039/d1nr02456f) -Profile Professor Hyoungsoo Kim Fluid and Interface Laboratory http://fil.kaist.ac.kr Department of Mechanical Engineering KAIST
Hubo Professor Jun-Ho Oh Donates Startup Shares Worth 5 Billion KRW
Rainbow Robotics stock used to endow the development fund Emeritus Professor Jun-Ho Oh, who developed the 2015 DARPA Challenge winning humanoid robot DRC-Hubo, donated 5 billion KRW on October 25 during a ceremony held at the KAIST campus in Daejeon. Professor Oh donated his 20% share (400 shares) of his startup Rainbow Robotics, which was established in 2011. Rainbow Robotics was listed on the KOSDAQ this February. The 400 shares were converted to 200,000 shares with a value of approximately 5 billion KRW when listed this year. KAIST sold the stocks and endowed the Jun-Ho Oh Fund, which will be used for the development of the university. He was the 39th faculty member who launched a startup with technology from his lab and became the biggest faculty entrepreneur donor. “I have received huge support and funding for my research. Fortunately, the research had a good result and led to the startup. Now I am very delighted to pay back the university. I feel that I have played a part in building the school’s startup ecosystem and creating a virtuous circle,” said Professor Oh during the ceremony. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee declared, “Professor Oh has been a very impressive exemplary model for our aspiring faculty and student tech startups. We will spare no effort to support startups at KAIST.” Professor Oh, who retired from the Department of Mechanical Engineering last year, now serves as the CTO at Rainbow Robotics. The company is developing humanoid bipedal robots and collaborative robots, and advancing robot technology including parts for astronomical observations. Professor Hae-Won Park and Professor Je Min Hwangbo, who are now responsible for the Hubo Lab, also joined the ceremony along with employees of Rainbow Robotics.
Flexible Sensor-Integrated RFA Needle Leads to Smarter Medical Treatment
Clinical trial of flexible sensor-integrated radiofrequency ablation (RFA) needle tip monitors physical changes and steam pop Researchers have designed a thin polymeric sensor platform on a radiofrequency ablation needle to monitor temperature and pressure in real time. The sensors integrated onto 1.5 mm diameter needle tip have proven their efficacy during clinical tests and expect to provide a new opportunity for safer and more effective medical practices. The research was reported in Advanced Science as the frontispiece on August 5. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive surgery technique for removing tumors and treating cardiovascular disease. During a procedure, an unintended audible explosion called ‘steam pop’ can occur due to the increased internal steam pressure in the ablation region. This phenomenon has been cited as a cause of various negative thermal and mechanical effects on neighboring tissue. Even more, the relationship between steam pop and cancer recurrence is still being investigated. Professor Inkyu Park said that his team’s integrated sensors reliably detected the occurrence of steam pop. The sensors also monitor rapidly spreading hot steam in tissue. It is expected that the diverse properties of tissue undergoing RFA could be checked by utilizing the physical sensors integrated on the needle. “We believe that the integrated sensors can provide useful information about a variety of medical procedures and accompanying environmental changes in the human body, and help develop more effective and safer surgical procedures,” said Professor Park. Professor Park’s team built a thin film type pressure and temperature sensor stack with a thickness of less than 10 μm using a microfabrication process. For the pressure sensor, the team used contact resistance changes between metal electrodes and a carbon nanotube coated polymeric membrane. The entire sensor array was thoroughly insulated with medical tubes to minimize any exposure of the sensor materials to external tissue and maximize its biocompatibility. During the clinical trial, the research team found that the accumulated hot steam is suddenly released during steam pops and this hot air spreads to neighboring tissue, which accelerates the ablation process. Furthermore, using in-situ ultrasound imaging and computational simulations, the research team could confirm the non-uniform temperature distribution around the RFA needle can be one of the primary reasons for the steam popping. Professor Park explained that various physical and chemical sensors for different targets can be added to create other medical devices and industrial tools. “This result will expand the usability and applicability of current flexible sensor technologies. We are also trying to integrate this sensor onto a 0.3mm diameter needle for in-vivo diagnosis applications and expect that this approach can be applied to other medical treatments as well as the industrial field,” added Professor Park. This study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea. -PublicationJaeho Park, Jinwoo Lee, Hyo Keun Lim, Inkyu Park et al. “Real-Time Internal Steam Pop Detection during Radiofrequency Ablation with a Radiofrequency Ablation Needle Integrated with a Temperature and Pressure Sensor: Preclinical and clinical pilot tests," Advanced Science (https://doi/org/10.1002/advs.202100725) on August 5, 2021 -ProfileProfessor Inkyu ParkMicro & Nano Tranducers Laboratory http://mintlab1.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Mechanical EngineeringCollege of EngineeringKAIST
Deep Learning Framework to Enable Material Design in Unseen Domain
Researchers propose a deep neural network-based forward design space exploration using active transfer learning and data augmentation A new study proposed a deep neural network-based forward design approach that enables an efficient search for superior materials far beyond the domain of the initial training set. This approach compensates for the weak predictive power of neural networks on an unseen domain through gradual updates of the neural network with active transfer learning and data augmentation methods. Professor Seungwha Ryu believes that this study will help address a variety of optimization problems that have an astronomical number of possible design configurations. For the grid composite optimization problem, the proposed framework was able to provide excellent designs close to the global optima, even with the addition of a very small dataset corresponding to less than 0.5% of the initial training data-set size. This study was reported in npj Computational Materials last month. “We wanted to mitigate the limitation of the neural network, weak predictive power beyond the training set domain for the material or structure design,” said Professor Ryu from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Neural network-based generative models have been actively investigated as an inverse design method for finding novel materials in a vast design space. However, the applicability of conventional generative models is limited because they cannot access data outside the range of training sets. Advanced generative models that were devised to overcome this limitation also suffer from weak predictive power for the unseen domain. Professor Ryu’s team, in collaboration with researchers from Professor Grace Gu’s group at UC Berkeley, devised a design method that simultaneously expands the domain using the strong predictive power of a deep neural network and searches for the optimal design by repetitively performing three key steps. First, it searches for few candidates with improved properties located close to the training set via genetic algorithms, by mixing superior designs within the training set. Then, it checks to see if the candidates really have improved properties, and expands the training set by duplicating the validated designs via a data augmentation method. Finally, they can expand the reliable prediction domain by updating the neural network with the new superior designs via transfer learning. Because the expansion proceeds along relatively narrow but correct routes toward the optimal design (depicted in the schematic of Fig. 1), the framework enables an efficient search. As a data-hungry method, a deep neural network model tends to have reliable predictive power only within and near the domain of the training set. When the optimal configuration of materials and structures lies far beyond the initial training set, which frequently is the case, neural network-based design methods suffer from weak predictive power and become inefficient. Researchers expect that the framework will be applicable for a wide range of optimization problems in other science and engineering disciplines with astronomically large design space, because it provides an efficient way of gradually expanding the reliable prediction domain toward the target design while avoiding the risk of being stuck in local minima. Especially, being a less-data-hungry method, design problems in which data generation is time-consuming and expensive will benefit most from this new framework. The research team is currently applying the optimization framework for the design task of metamaterial structures, segmented thermoelectric generators, and optimal sensor distributions. “From these sets of on-going studies, we expect to better recognize the pros and cons, and the potential of the suggested algorithm. Ultimately, we want to devise more efficient machine learning-based design approaches,” explained Professor Ryu.This study was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea and the KAIST Global Singularity Research Project. -Publication Yongtae Kim, Youngsoo, Charles Yang, Kundo Park, Grace X. Gu, and Seunghwa Ryu, “Deep learning framework for material design space exploration using active transfer learning and data augmentation,” npj Computational Materials (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41524-021-00609-2) -Profile Professor Seunghwa Ryu Mechanics & Materials Modeling Lab Department of Mechanical Engineering KAIST
How Stingrays Became the Most Efficient Swimmers in Nature
Study shows the hydrodynamic benefits of protruding eyes and mouth in a self-propelled flexible stingray With their compressed bodies and flexible pectoral fins, stingrays have evolved to become one of nature’s most efficient swimmers. Scientists have long wondered about the role played by their protruding eyes and mouths, which one might expect to be hydrodynamic disadvantages. Professor Hyung Jin Sung and his colleagues have discovered how such features on simulated stingrays affect a range of forces involved in propulsion, such as pressure and vorticity. Despite what one might expect, their research team found these protruding features actually help streamline the stingrays. ‘The influence of the 3D protruding eyes and mouth on a self-propelled flexible stingray and its underlying hydrodynamic mechanism are not yet fully understood,” said Professor Sung. “In the present study, the hydrodynamic benefit of protruding eyes and mouth was explored for the first time, revealing their hydrodynamic role.” To illustrate the complex interplay between hydrodynamic forces, the researchers set to work creating a computer model of a self-propelled flexible plate. They clamped the front end of the model and then forced it to mimic the up-and-down harmonic oscillations stingrays use to propel themselves. To re-create the effect of the eyes and mouth on the surrounding water, the team simulated multiple rigid plates on the model. They compared this model to one without eyes and a mouth using a technique called the penalty immersed boundary method. “Managing random fish swimming and isolating the desired purpose of the measurements from numerous factors was difficult,” Sung said. “To overcome these limitations, the penalty immersed boundary method was adopted to find the hydrodynamic benefits of the protruding eyes and mouth.” The team discovered that the eyes and mouth generated a vortex of flow in the forward-backward , which increased negative pressure at the simulated animal’s front, and a side-to-side vortex that increased the pressure difference above and below the stingray. The result was increased thrust and accelerated cruising. Further analysis showed that the eyes and mouth increased overall propulsion efficiency by more than 20.5% and 10.6%, respectively. Researchers hope their work, driven by curiosity, further stokes interest in exploring fluid phenomena in nature. They are hoping to find ways to adapt this for next-generation water vehicle designs based more closely on marine animals. This study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea and the State Scholar Fund from the China Scholarship Council. -ProfileProfessor Hyung Jin SungDepartment of Mechanical EngineeringKAIST -PublicationHyung Jin Sung, Qian Mao, Ziazhen Zhao, Yingzheng Liu, “Hydrodynamic benefits of protruding eyes and mouth in a self-propelled flexible stingray,” Aug.31, 2021, Physics of Fluids (https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0061287) -News release from the American Institute of Physics, Aug.31, 2021
Electrosprayed Micro Droplets Help Kill Bacteria and Viruses
With COVID-19 raging around the globe, researchers are doubling down on methods for developing diverse antimicrobial technologies that could be effective in killing a virus, but harmless to humans and the environment. A recent study by a KAIST research team will be one of the responses to such efforts. Professor Seung Seob Lee and Dr. Ji-hun Jeong from the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a harmless air sterilization prototype featuring electrosprayed water from a polymer micro-nozzle array. This study is one of the projects being supported by the KAIST New Deal R&D Initiative in response to COVID-19. Their study was reported in Polymer. The electrosprayed microdroplets encapsulate reactive oxygen species such as hydroxyl radicals, superoxides that are known to have an antimicrobial function. The encapsulation prolongs the life of reactive oxygen species, which enable the droplets to perform their antimicrobial function effectively. Prior research has already proven the antimicrobial and encapsulation effects of electrosprayed droplets. Despite its potential for antimicrobial applications, electrosprayed water generally operates under an electrical discharge condition, which can generate ozone. The inhalation of ozone is known to cause damage to the respiratory system of humans. Another technical barrier for electrospraying is the low flow rate problem. Since electrospraying exhibits the dependence of droplet size on the flow rate, there is a limit for the amount of water microdroplets a single nozzle can produce. With this in mind, the research team developed a dielectric polymer micro-nozzle array to perform the multiplexed electrospraying of water without electrical discharge. The polymer micro-nozzle array was fabricated using the MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical System) process. According to the research team, the nozzle can carry five to 19 micro-nozzles depending on the required application. The high aspect ratio of the micro-nozzle and an in-plane extractor were proposed to concentrate the electric field at the tip of the micro-nozzle, which prevents the electrical discharge caused by the high surface tension of water. A micro-pillar array with a hydrophobic coating around the micro-nozzle was also proposed to prevent the wetting of the micro-nozzle array. The polymer micro-nozzle array performed in steady cone jet mode without electrical discharge as confirmed by high-speed imaging and nanosecond pulsed imaging. The water microdroplets were measured to be in the range of six to 10 μm and displayed an antimicrobial effect on Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Professor Lee said, “We believe that this research can be applied to air conditioning products in areas that require antimicrobial and humidifying functions.” Publication: Jeong, J. H., et al. (2020) Polymer micro-atomizer for water electrospray in the cone jet mode. Polymer. Vol. No. 194, 122405. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polymer.2020.122405 Profile: Seung Seob Lee, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org http://mmst.kaist.ac.kr/ Professor Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea Profile: Ji-hun Jeong, Ph.D. email@example.com Postdoctoral researcher Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
‘WalkON Suit 4’ Releases Paraplegics from Wheelchairs
- KAIST Athletes in ‘WalkON Suit 4’ Dominated the Cybathlon 2020 Global Edition. - Paraplegic athletes Byeong-Uk Kim and Joohyun Lee from KAIST’s Team Angel Robotics won a gold and a bronze medal respectively at the Cybathlon 2020 Global Edition last week. ‘WalkON Suit 4,’ a wearable robot developed by the Professor Kyoungchul Kong’s team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering topped the standings at the event with double medal success. Kim, the former bronze medallist, clinched his gold medal by finishing all six tasks in 3 minutes and 47 seconds, whereas Lee came in third with a time of 5 minutes and 51 seconds. TWIICE, a Swiss team, lagged 53 seconds behind Kim’s winning time to be the runner-up. Cybathlon is a global championship, organized by ETH Zurich, which brings together people with physical disabilities to compete using state-of-the-art assistive technologies to perform everyday tasks. The first championship was held in 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the second championship was postponed twice and held in a new format in a decentralized setting. A total of 51 teams from 20 countries across the world performed the events in their home bases in different time zones instead of traveling to Zurich. Under the supervision of a referee and timekeeper, all races were filmed and then reviewed by judges. KAIST’s Team Angel Robotics participated in the Powered Exoskeleton Race category, where nine pilots representing five nations including Korea, Switzerland, the US, Russia, and France competed against each other. The team installed their own arena and raced at the KAIST Main Campus in Daejeon according to the framework, tasks, and rules defined by the competition committee. The two paraplegic pilots were each equipped with exoskeletal devices, the WalkON Suit 4, and undertook six tasks related to daily activities. The WalkON Suit 4 recorded the fastest walking speed for a complete paraplegic ever reported. For a continuous walk, it achieved a maximum speed of 40 meters per minute. This is comparable to the average walking pace of a non-disabled person, which is around two to four kilometers per hour. The research team raised the functionality of the robot by adding technology that can observe the user’s level of anxiety and external factors like the state of the walking surface, so it can control itself intelligently. The assistive functions a robot should provide vary greatly with the environment, and the WalkON Suit 4 made it possible to analyze the pace of the user within 30 steps and provide a personally optimized walking pattern, enabling a high walking speed. The six tasks that Kim and Lee had to complete were:1) sitting and standing back up, 2) navigating around obstacles while avoiding collisions, 3) stepping over obstacles on the ground, 4) going up and down stairs, 5) walking across a tilted path, and 6) climbing a steep slope, opening and closing a door, and descending a steep slope. Points were given based on the accuracy of each completed task, and the final scores were calculated by adding all of the points that were gained in each attempt, which lasted 10 minutes. Each pilot was given three opportunities and used his/her highest score. Should pilots have the same final score, the pilot who completed the race in the shortest amount of time would win. Kim said in his victory speech that he was so thrilled to see all his and fellow researchers’ years of hard work paying off. “This will be a good opportunity to show how outstanding Korean wearable robot technologies are,” he added. Lee, who participated in the competition for the first time, said, “By showing that I can overcome my physical disabilities with robot technology, I’d like to send out a message of hope to everyone who is tired because of COVID-19”. Professor Kong’s team collaborated in technology development and pilot training with their colleagues from Angel Robotics Co., Ltd., Severance Rehabilitation Hospital, Yeungnam University, Stalks, and the Institute of Rehabilitation Technology. Footage from the competition is available at the Cybathlon’s official website. (END)
KAIST Showcases Healthcare Technologies at K-Hospital Fair 2020
KAIST Pavilion showcased its innovative medical and healthcare technologies and their advanced applications at the K-Hospital Fair 2020. Five KAIST research groups who teamed up for the Post-COVID-19 New Deal R&D Initiative Project participated in the fair held in Seoul last week. The K-Hospital Fair is a yearly event organized by the Korean Hospital Association to present the latest research and practical innovations to help the medical industry better serve the patients. This year, 120 healthcare organizations participated in the fair and operated 320 booths. At the fair, a research group led by Professor Il-Doo Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering demonstrated the manufacturing process of orthogonal nanofibers used to develop their ‘recyclable nano-fiber filtered face mask’ introduced in March of this year. This mask has garnered immense international attention for maintaining its sturdy frame and filtering function even after being washed more than 20 times. Professor Kim is now extending his facilities for the mass production of this mask at his start-up company. While awaiting final approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to bring his product into the market, Professor Kim is developing other mask variations such as eco-friendly biodegradable masks and transparent masks to aid the hearing-impaired who rely on lip reading to communicate. The team working under Professor Wonho Choe from the Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering presented two low-temperature plasma sterilizers for medical use, co-developed with Plasmapp, a start-up company founded by a KAIST alumnus. Their sterilizers are the first ones that can sterilize medical devices by diffusing hydrogen peroxide vapor into the pouch. They rapidly sterilize medical instruments and materials in just seven minutes without leaving toxic residue, while reducing sterilization time and costs by 90%. Professor Hyung-Soon Park and his researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering introduced a smart protective suit ventilation system that features high cooling capacity and a slimmed-down design. For comfortable use, the suit is equipped with a technique that monitors its inner temperature and humidity and automatically controls its inner circulation accordingly. The group also presented a new system that helps a person in a contaminated suit undress without coming into contact with the contaminated outer part of the suit. Professor Jong Chul Ye's group from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering demonstrated AI software that can quickly diagnose an infectious disease based on chest X-ray imaging. The technique compares the differences in the severity of pneumonia in individual patients to distinguish whether their conditions fall under viral pneumonia including COVID-19, bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis, other diseases, or normal conditions. The AI software visualizes the basis of its reasoning for each of the suspected diseases and provides them as information that can be utilized by medical personnel. Finally, researchers of Professor Ki-Hun Jeong’s team from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering demonstrated their ultra-high-speed sub-miniature molecular diagnostic system for the on-site diagnosis of diseases. The existing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) diagnostic usually takes from 30 minutes to an hour to provide results, but their new technique using an LED light source can present results within just three minutes and it is expected to be used actively for on-site diagnosis. Professor Choongsik Bae, the Director of the Post-COVID-19 New Deal R&D Initiative Project, said, “KAIST will build a healthy relationship amongst researchers, enterprises, and hospitals to contribute to the end of COVID-19 and build a new paradigm of Korean disease prevention and control.” KAIST launched the Post-COVID-19 New Deal R&D Initiative in July with the support of the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea. This unit was created to overcome the pandemic crisis by using science and technology, and to contribute to economic development by creating a new antiviral drug industry. The unit is comprised of 464 KAIST members including professors, researchers, and students as well as 503 professionals from enterprises, hospitals, and research centers. (END)
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