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New Nanoparticle Drug Combination For Atherosclerosis
Physicochemical cargo-switching nanoparticles (CSNP) designed by KAIST can help significantly reduce cholesterol and macrophage foam cells in arteries, which are the two main triggers for atherosclerotic plaque and inflammation. The CSNP-based combination drug delivery therapy was proved to exert cholesterol-lowering, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative functions of two common medications for treating and preventing atherosclerosis that are cyclodextrin and statin. Professor Ji-Ho Park and Dr. Heegon Kim from KAIST’s Department of Bio and Brain Engineering said their study has shown great potential for future applications with reduced side effects. Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory vascular disease that is characterized by the accumulation of cholesterol and cholesterol-loaded macrophage foam cells in the intima. When this atherosclerotic plaque clogs and narrows the artery walls, they restrict blood flow and cause various cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. Heart attacks and strokes are the world’s first and fifth causes of death respectively. Oral statin administration has been used in clinics as a standard care for atherosclerosis, which is prescribed to lower blood cholesterol and inhibit its accumulation within the plaque. Although statins can effectively prevent the progression of plaque growth, they have only shown modest efficacy in eliminating the already-established plaque. Therefore, patients are required to take statin drugs for the rest of their lives and will always carry the risk of plaque ruptures that can trigger a blood clot. To address these issues, Professor Park and Dr. Kim exploited another antiatherogenic agent called cyclodextrin. In their paper published in the Journal of Controlled Release on March 10, Professor Park and Dr. Kim reported that the polymeric formulation of cyclodextrin with a diameter of approximately 10 nanometers(nm) can accumulate within the atherosclerotic plaque 14 times more and effectively reduce the plaque even at lower doses, compared to cyclodextrin in a non-polymer structure. Moreover, although cyclodextrin is known to have a cytotoxic effect on hair cells in the cochlea, which can lead to hearing loss, cyclodextrin polymers developed by Professor Park’s research group exhibited a varying biodistribution profile and did not have this side effect. In the follow-up study reported in ACS Nano on April 28, the researchers exploited both cyclodextrin and statin and form the cyclodextrin-statin self-assembly drug complex, based on previous findings that each drug can exert local anti-atherosclerosis effect within the plaque. The complex formation processes were optimized to obtain homogeneous and stable nanoparticles with a diameter of about 100 nm for systematic injection. The therapeutic synergy of cyclodextrin and statin could reportedly enhance plaque-targeted drug delivery and anti-inflammation. Cyclodextrin led to the regression of cholesterol in the established plaque, and the statins were shown to inhibit the proliferation of macrophage foam cells. The study suggested that combination therapy is required to resolve the complex inflammatory cholesterol-rich microenvironment within the plaque. Professor Park said, “While nanomedicine has been mainly developed for the treatment of cancers, our studies show that nanomedicine can also play a significant role in treating and preventing atherosclerosis, which causes various cardiovascular diseases that are the leading causes of death worldwide.” This work was supported by KAIST and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea. Publications: 1. Heegon Kim, Junhee Han, and Ji-Ho Park. (2020) ‘Cyclodextrin polymer improves atherosclerosis therapy and reduces ototoxicity’ Journal of Controlled Release. Volume 319. Page 77-86. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.12.021 2. Kim, H., et al. (2020) ‘Affinity-Driven Design of Cargo-Switching Nanoparticles to Leverage a Cholesterol-Rich Microenvironment for Atherosclerosis Therapy’ ACS Nano. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.9b08216 Profile: Ji-Ho Park, Ph.D. Associate Professor email@example.com http://openwetware.org/wiki/Park_Lab Biomaterials Engineering Laboratory (BEL) Department of Bio and Brain Engineering (BIOENG) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea Profile: Heegon Kim, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Researcher firstname.lastname@example.org BEL, BIOENG, KAIST (END)
New Graphene-Based Metasurface Capable of Independent Amplitude and Phase Control of Light
Researchers described a new strategy of designing metamolecules that incorporates two independently controllable subwavelength meta-atoms. This two-parametric control of the metamolecule secures the complete control of both amplitude and the phase of light. A KAIST research team in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison theoretically suggested a graphene-based active metasurface capable of independent amplitude and phase control of mid-infrared light. This research gives a new insight into modulating the mid-infrared wavefront with high resolution by solving the problem of the independent control of light amplitude and phase, which has remained a long-standing challenge. Light modulation technology is essential for developing future optical devices such as holography, high-resolution imaging, and optical communication systems. Liquid crystals and a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) have previously been utilized to modulate light. However, both methods suffer from significantly limited driving speeds and unit pixel sizes larger than the diffraction limit, which consequently prevent their integration into photonic systems. The metasurface platform is considered a strong candidate for the next generation of light modulation technology. Metasurfaces have optical properties that natural materials cannot have, and can overcome the limitations of conventional optical systems, such as forming a high-resolution image beyond the diffraction limit. In particular, the active metasurface is regarded as a technology with a wide range of applications due to its tunable optical characteristics with an electrical signal. However, the previous active metasurfaces suffered from the inevitable correlation between light amplitude control and phase control. This problem is caused by the modulation mechanism of conventional metasurfaces. Conventional metasurfaces have been designed such that a metaatom only has one resonance condition, but a single resonant design inherently lacks the degrees of freedom to independently control the amplitude and phase of light. The research team made a metaunit by combining two independently controllable metaatoms, dramatically improving the modulation range of active metasurfaces. The proposed metasurface can control the amplitude and phase of the mid-infrared light independently with a resolution beyond the diffraction limit, thus allowing complete control of the optical wavefront. The research team theoretically confirmed the performance of the proposed active metasurface and the possibility of wavefront shaping using this design method. Furthermore, they developed an analytical method that can approximate the optical properties of metasurfaces without complex electromagnetic simulations. This analytical platform proposes a more intuitive and comprehensively applicable metasurface design guideline. The proposed technology is expected to enable accurate wavefront shaping with a much higher spatial resolution than existing wavefront shaping technologies, which will be applied to active optical systems such as mid-infrared holography, high-speed beam steering devices that can be applied for LiDAR, and variable focus infrared lenses. Professor Min Seok Jang commented, "This study showed the independent control amplitude and phase of light, which has been a long-standing quest in light modulator technology. The development of optical devices using complex wavefront control is expected to become more active in the future." MS candidate Sangjun Han and Dr. Seyoon Kim of the University of Wisconsin-Madison are the co-first authors of the research, which was published and selected as the front cover of the January 28 edition of ACS Nano titled “Complete complex amplitude modulation with electronically tunable graphene plasmonic metamolecules.” This research was funded by the Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center for Future Technology. Publication: Han et al. (2020) Complete Complex Amplitude Modulation with Electronically Tunable Graphene Plasmonic Metamolecules. ACS Nano, Vol. 14, Issue 1, pp. 1166-1175. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.9b09277 Profile: Prof. Min Seok Jang, MS, PhD email@example.com http://jlab.kaist.ac.kr/ Associate Professor Jang Research Group School of Electrical Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea Profile: Sangjun Han firstname.lastname@example.org MS Candidate School of Electrical Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
Developing Flexible Vertical Micro LED
A KAIST research team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor Daesoo Kim from the Department of Biological Sciences has developed flexible vertical micro LEDs (f-VLEDs) using anisotropic conductive film (ACF)-based transfer and interconnection technology. The team also succeeded in controlling animal behavior via optogenetic stimulation of the f-VLEDs. Flexible micro LEDs have become a strong candidate for the next-generation display due to their ultra-low power consumption, fast response speed, and excellent flexibility. However, the previous micro LED technology had critical issues such as poor device efficiency, low thermal reliability, and the lack of interconnection technology for high-resolution micro LED displays. The research team has designed new transfer equipment and fabricated a f-VLED array (50ⅹ50) using simultaneous transfer and interconnection through the precise alignment of ACF bonding process. These f-VLEDs (thickness: 5 ㎛, size: below 80 ㎛) achieved optical power density (30 mW/mm2) three times higher than that of lateral micro LEDs, improving thermal reliability and lifetime by reducing heat generation within the thin film LEDs. These f-VLEDs can be applied to optogenetics for controlling the behavior of neuron cells and brains. In contrast to the electrical stimulation that activates all of the neurons in brain, optogenetics can stimulate specific excitatory or inhibitory neurons within the localized cortical areas of the brain, which facilitates precise analysis, high-resolution mapping, and neuron modulation of animal brains. (Refer to the author’s previous ACS Nano paper of “Optogenetic Mapping of Functional Connectivity in Freely Moving Mice via Insertable Wrapping Electrode Array Beneath the Skull.” ) In this work, they inserted the innovative f-VLEDs into the narrow space between the skull and the brain surface and succeeded in controlling mouse behavior by illuminating motor neurons on two-dimensional cortical areas located deep below the brain surface. Professor Lee said, “The flexible vertical micro LED can be used in low-power smart watches, mobile displays, and wearable lighting. In addition, these flexible optoelectronic devices are suitable for biomedical applications such as brain science, phototherapeutic treatment, and contact lens biosensors.” He recently established a startup company ( FRONICS Inc. ) based on micro LED technology and is looking for global partnerships for commercialization. This result entitled “ Optogenetic Control of Body Movements via Flexible Vertical Light-Emitting Diodes on Brain Surface ” was published in the February 2018 issue of Nano Energy. Figure 1. Comparison of μ-LEDs Technology
A Transport Technology for Nanowires Thermally Treated at 700 Celsius Degrees
Professor Jun-Bo Yoon and his research team of the Department of Electrical Engineering at KAIST developed a technology for transporting thermally treated nanowires to a flexible substrate and created a high performance device for collecting flexible energy by using the new technology. Mr. Min-Ho Seo, a Ph.D. candidate, participated in this study as the first author. The results were published online on January 30th in ACS Nano, an international journal in the field of nanoscience and engineering. (“Versatile Transfer of an Ultralong and Seamless Nanowire Array Crystallized at High Temperature for Use in High-performance Flexible Devices,” DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b06842) Nanowires are one of the most representative nanomaterials. They have wire structures with dimensions in nanometers. The nanowires are widely used in the scientific and engineering fields due to their prominent physical and chemical properties that depend on a one-dimensional structure, and their high applicability. Nanowires have much higher performance if their structure has unique features such as an excellent arrangement and a longer-than-average length. Many researchers are thus actively participating in the research for making nanowires without much difficulty, analyzing them, and developing them for high performance application devices. Scientists have recently favored a research topic on making nanowires chemically and physically on a flexible substrate and applies the nanowires to a flexible electric device such as a high performance wearable sensor. The existing technology, however, mixed nanowires from a chemical synthesis with a solution and spread the mixture on a flexible substrate. The resultant distribution was random, and it was difficult to produce a high performance device based on the structural advantages of nanowires. In addition, the technology used a cutting edge nano-process and flexible materials, but this was not economically beneficial. The production of stable materials at a temperature of 700 Celsius degrees or higher is unattainable, a great challenge for the application. To solve this problem, the research team developed a new nano-transfer technology that combines a silicon nano-grating board with a large surface area and a nano-sacrificial layer process. A nano-sacrificial layer exists between nanowires and a nano-grating board, which acts as the mold for the nano-transfer. The new technology allows the device undergo thermal treatment. After this, the layer disappears when the nanowires are transported to a flexible substrate. This technology also permits the stable production of nanowires with secured properties at an extremely high temperature. In this case, the nanowires are neatly organized on a flexible substrate. The research team used the technology to manufacture barium carbonate nanowires on top of the flexible substrate. The wires secured their properties at a temperature of 700℃ or above. The team employed the collection of wearable energy to obtain much higher electrical energy than that of an energy collecting device designed based on regular barium titanate nanowires. The researchers said that their technology is built upon a semiconductor process, known as Physical Vapor Deposition that allows various materials such as ceramics and semiconductors to be used for flexible substrates of nanowires. They expected that high performance flexible electric devices such as flexible transistors and thermoelectric elements can be produced with this method. Mr. Seo said, “In this study, we transported nanowire materials with developed properties on a flexible substrate and showed an increase in device performance. Our technology will be fundamental to the production of various nanowires on a flexible substrate as well as the feasibility of making high performance wearable electric devices.” This research was supported by the Leap Research Support Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea. Fig. 1. Transcription process of new, developed nanowires (a) and a fundamental mimetic diagram of a nano-sacrificial layer (b) Fig. 2. Transcription results from using gold (AU) nanowires. The categories of the results were (a) optical images, (b) physical signals, (c) cross-sectional images from a scanning electron microscope (SEM), and (d-f) an electric verification of whether the perfectly arranged nanowires were made on a large surface. Fig. 3. Transcription from using barium titanate (BaTiO3) nanowires. The results were (a) optical images, (b-e) top images taken from an SEM in various locations, and (f, g) property analysis. Fig. 4. Mimetic diagram of the energy collecting device from using a BaTiO3 nanowire substrate and an optical image of the experiment for the miniature energy collecting device attached to an index finger.
An Improved Carbon Nanotube Semiconductor
Professor Yang-Kyu Choi and his research team of the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST collaborated with Professor Sung-Jin Choi of Kookmin University to develop a large-scale carbon nanotube semiconductor by using a 3-D fin-gate structure with carbon nanotubes on its top. Dong Il Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at KAIST’s Electrical Engineering School, participated in this study as the first author. It was published in ACS Nano on November 10, 2016, and was entitled “Three-Dimensional Fin-Structured Semiconducting Carbon Nanotube Network Transistor.” A semiconductor made with carbon nanotubes operates faster than a silicon semiconductor and requires less energy, yielding higher performance. Most electronic equipment and devices, however, use silicon semiconductors because it is difficult to fabricate highly purified and densely packed semiconductors with carbon nanotubes (CNTs). To date, the performance of CNTs was limited due to their low density. Their purity was also low, so it was impossible to make products that had a constant yield on a large-surface wafer or substrate. These characteristics made the mass production of semiconducting CNTs difficult. To solve these difficulties, the research team used a 3-D fin-gate to vapor-deposit carbon nanotubes on its top. They developed a semiconductor that had a high current density with a width less than 50 nm. The three-dimensional fin structure was able to vapor-deposit 600 carbon nanotubes per micrometer. This structure could have 20 times more nanotubes than the two dimensional structure, which could only vapor-deposit thirty in the same 1 micrometer width. In addition, the research team used semi-conductive carbon nanotubes having a purity rating higher than 99.9% from a previous study to obtain a high yield semiconductor. The semiconductor from the research group has a high current density even with a width less than 50 μm. The new semiconductor is expected to be five times faster than a silicon-based semiconductor and will require five times less electricity during operation. Furthermore, the new semiconductor can be made by or will be compatible with the equipment for producing silicon-based semiconductors, so there will be no additional costs. Researcher Lee said, “As a next generation semiconductor, the carbon nanotube semiconductor will have better performance, and its effectiveness will be higher.” He also added, “Hopefully, the new semiconductor will replace the silicon-based semiconductors in ten years.” This study received support from the Center for Integrated Smart Sensors funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning of Korea as the Global Frontier Project, and from the CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor) THz Technology Convergence Center of the Pioneer Research Center Program sponsored by the National Research Foundation of Korea. Picture 1: 3D Diagram of the Carbon Nanotube Electronic Device and Its Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Image Picture 2: 3D Transistor Device on an 8-inch Base and the SEM Image of Its Cross Section
Continuous Roll-Process Technology for Transferring and Packaging Flexible Large-Scale Integrated Circuits
A research team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee from KAIST and by Dr. Jae-Hyun Kim from the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) has jointly developed a continuous roll-processing technology that transfers and packages flexible large-scale integrated circuits (LSI), the key element in constructing the computer’s brain such as CPU, on plastics to realize flexible electronics. Professor Lee previously demonstrated the silicon-based flexible LSIs using 0.18 CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) process in 2013 (ACS Nano, “In Vivo Silicon-based Flexible Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits Monolithically Encapsulated with Biocompatible Liquid Crystal Polymers”) and presented the work in an invited talk of 2015 International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM), the world’s premier semiconductor forum. Highly productive roll-processing is considered a core technology for accelerating the commercialization of wearable computers using flexible LSI. However, realizing it has been a difficult challenge not only from the roll-based manufacturing perspective but also for creating roll-based packaging for the interconnection of flexible LSI with flexible displays, batteries, and other peripheral devices. To overcome these challenges, the research team started fabricating NAND flash memories on a silicon wafer using conventional semiconductor processes, and then removed a sacrificial wafer leaving a top hundreds-nanometer-thick circuit layer. Next, they simultaneously transferred and interconnected the ultrathin device on a flexible substrate through the continuous roll-packaging technology using anisotropic conductive film (ACF). The final silicon-based flexible NAND memory successfully demonstrated stable memory operations and interconnections even under severe bending conditions. This roll-based flexible LSI technology can be potentially utilized to produce flexible application processors (AP), high-density memories, and high-speed communication devices for mass manufacture. Professor Lee said, “Highly productive roll-process was successfully applied to flexible LSIs to continuously transfer and interconnect them onto plastics. For example, we have confirmed the reliable operation of our flexible NAND memory at the circuit level by programming and reading letters in ASCII codes. Out results may open up new opportunities to integrate silicon-based flexible LSIs on plastics with the ACF packing for roll-based manufacturing.” Dr. Kim added, “We employed the roll-to-plate ACF packaging, which showed outstanding bonding capability for continuous roll-based transfer and excellent flexibility of interconnecting core and peripheral devices. This can be a key process to the new era of flexible computers combining the already developed flexible displays and batteries.” The team’s results will be published on the front cover of Advanced Materials (August 31, 2016) in an article entitled “Simultaneous Roll Transfer and Interconnection of Silicon NAND Flash Memory.” (DOI: 10.1002/adma.201602339) YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OJjAEm27sw Picture 1: This schematic image shows the flexible silicon NAND flash memory produced by the simultaneous roll-transfer and interconnection process. Picture 2: The flexible silicon NAND flash memory is attached to a 7 mm diameter glass rod.
KAIST Team Develops Flexible PRAM
Phase change random access memory (PRAM) is one of the strongest candidates for next-generation nonvolatile memory for flexible and wearable electronics. In order to be used as a core memory for flexible devices, the most important issue is reducing high operating current. The effective solution is to decrease cell size in sub-micron region as in commercialized conventional PRAM. However, the scaling to nano-dimension on flexible substrates is extremely difficult due to soft nature and photolithographic limits on plastics, thus practical flexible PRAM has not been realized yet. Recently, a team led by Professors Keon Jae Lee and Yeon Sik Jung of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST has developed the first flexible PRAM enabled by self-assembled block copolymer (BCP) silica nanostructures with an ultralow current operation (below one quarter of conventional PRAM without BCP) on plastic substrates. BCP is the mixture of two different polymer materials, which can easily create self-ordered arrays of sub-20 nm features through simple spin-coating and plasma treatments. BCP silica nanostructures successfully lowered the contact area by localizing the volume change of phase-change materials and thus resulted in significant power reduction. Furthermore, the ultrathin silicon-based diodes were integrated with phase-change memories (PCM) to suppress the inter-cell interference, which demonstrated random access capability for flexible and wearable electronics. Their work was published in the March issue of ACS Nano: "Flexible One Diode-One Phase Change Memory Array Enabled by Block Copolymer Self-Assembly." Another way to achieve ultralow-powered PRAM is to utilize self-structured conductive filaments (CF) instead of the resistor-type conventional heater. The self-structured CF nanoheater originated from unipolar memristor can generate strong heat toward phase-change materials due to high current density through the nanofilament. This ground-breaking methodology shows that sub-10 nm filament heater, without using expensive and non-compatible nanolithography, achieved nanoscale switching volume of phase change materials, resulted in the PCM writing current of below 20 uA, the lowest value among top-down PCM devices. This achievement was published in the June online issue of ACS Nano: "Self-Structured Conductive Filament Nanoheater for Chalcogenide Phase Transition." In addition, due to self-structured low-power technology compatible to plastics, the research team has recently succeeded in fabricating a flexible PRAM on wearable substrates. Professor Lee said, "The demonstration of low power PRAM on plastics is one of the most important issues for next-generation wearable and flexible non-volatile memory. Our innovative and simple methodology represents the strong potential for commercializing flexible PRAM." In addition, he wrote a review paper regarding the nanotechnology-based electronic devices in the June online issue of Advanced Materials entitled "Performance Enhancement of Electronic and Energy Devices via Block Copolymer Self-Assembly." Picture Caption: Low-power nonvolatile PRAM for flexible and wearable memories enabled by (a) self-assembled BCP silica nanostructures and (b) self-structured conductive filament nanoheater.
A KAIST research team developed in vivo flexible large scale integrated circuits
Daejeon, Republic of Korea, May 6th, 2013–-A team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST has developed in vivo silicon-based flexible large scale integrated circuits (LSI) for bio-medical wireless communication. Silicon-based semiconductors have played significant roles in signal processing, nerve stimulation, memory storage, and wireless communication in implantable electronics. However, the rigid and bulky LSI chips have limited uses in in vivo devices due to incongruent contact with the curvilinear surfaces of human organs. Especially, artificial retinas recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (refer to the press release of FDA"s artificial retina approval) require extremely flexible and slim LSI to incorporate it within the cramped area of the human eye. Although several research teams have fabricated flexible integrated circuits (ICs, tens of interconnected transistors) on plastics, their inaccurate nano-scale alignment on plastics has restricted the demonstration of flexible nano-transistors and their large scale interconnection for in vivo LSI applications such as main process unit (MPU), high density memory and wireless communication. Professor Lee"s team previously demonstrated fully functional flexible memory using ultrathin silicon membranes (Nano Letters, Flexible Memristive Memory Array on Plastic Substrates), however, its integration level and transistor size (over micron scale) have limited functional applications for flexible consumer electronics. Professor Keon Jae Lee"s team fabricated radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) interconnected with thousand nano-transistors on silicon wafer by state-of-the-art CMOS process, and then they removed the entire bottom substrate except top 100 nm active circuit layer by wet chemical etching. The flexible RF switches for wireless communication were monolithically encapsulated with biocompatible liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) for in vivo bio-medical applications. Finally, they implanted the LCP encapsulated RFICs into live rats to demonstrate the stable operation of flexible devices under in vivo circumstances. Professor Lee said, "This work could provide an approach to flexible LSI for an ideal artificial retina system and other bio-medical devices. Moreover, the result represents an exciting technology with the strong potential to realize fully flexible consumer electronics such as application processor (AP) for mobile operating system, high-capacity memory, and wireless communication in the near future." This result was published in the May online issue of the American Chemical Society"s journal, ACS Nano (In vivo Flexible RFICs Monolithically Encapsulated with LCP). They are currently engaged in commercializing efforts of roll-to-roll printing of flexible LSI on large area plastic substrates. Movie at Youtube Link: Fabrication process for flexible LSI for flexible display, wearable computer and artificial retina for in vivo biomedical application http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PpbM7m2PPs&feature=youtu.be Applications of in Vivo Flexible Large Scale Integrated Circuits Top: In vivo flexible large scale integrated circuits (LSI); Bottom: Schematic of roll-to-roll printing of flexible LSI on large area plastics.
The output of terahertz waves enhanced by KAIST team
KAIST researchers have greatly improved the output of terahertz waves, the blue ocean of the optics world. This technology is expected to be applied to portable X-ray cameras, small bio-diagnostic systems, and in many other devices. Professor Ki-Hun Jeong"s research team from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering used optical nano-antenna technology to increase the output of terahertz waves by three times. Terahertz waves are electromagnetic waves with frequencies between 100GHz to 30THz. They are produced when a femtosecond (10^-15 s) pulse laser is shone on a semiconductor substrate with photoconduction antennas, causing a photocurrent pulse of one picosecond (10^-12 s). Their long wavelengths, in comparison to visible light and infrared rays, give terahertz waves a high penetration power with less energy than X-rays, making them less harmful to humans. These qualities allow us to see through objects, just as X-rays do, but because terahertz waves absorb certain frequencies, we can detect hidden explosives or drugs, which was not possible with X-rays. We can even identify fake drugs. Furthermore, using the spectral information, we can analyze a material"s innate qualities without chemical processing, making it possible to identify skin diseases without harming the body. However, the output was not sufficient to be used in biosensors and other applications. Prof. Jeong"s team added optical nano-antennas, made from gold nano-rods, in between the photoconduction antennas and optimized the structure. This resulted in nanoplasmonic resonance in the photoconduction substrate, increasing the degree of integration of the photocurrent pulse and resulting in a three times larger output. Hence, it is not only possible to see through objects more clearly, but it is also possible to analyze components without a biopsy. Professor Jeong explained, "This technology, coupled with the miniaturization of terahertz devices, can be applied to endoscopes to detect early epithelial cancer" and that he will focus on creating and commercializing these biosensor systems. This research was published in the March issue of the international nanotechnology journal ACS Nano and was funded by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology and the National Research Foundation of Korea. Figure: Mimetic diagram of a THz generator with nano-antennas
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