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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.
Stress-Relief Substrate Helps OLED Stretch Two-Dimensionally
Highly functional and free-form displays are critical components to complete the technological prowess of wearable electronics, robotics, and human-machine interfaces. A KAIST team created stretchable OLEDs (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) that are compliant and maintain their performance under high-strain deformation. Their stress-relief substrates have a unique structure and utilize pillar arrays to reduce the stress on the active areas of devices when strain is applied. Traditional intrinsically stretchable OLEDs have commercial limitations due to their low efficiency in the electrical conductivity of the electrodes. In addition, previous geometrically stretchable OLEDs laminated to the elastic substrates with thin film devices lead to different pixel emissions of the devices from different peak sizes of the buckles. To solve these problems, a research team led by Professor Kyung Cheol Choi designed a stretchable substrate system with surface relief island structures that relieve the stress at the locations of bridges in the devices. Their stretchable OLED devices contained an elastic substrate structure comprising bonded elastic pillars and bridges. A patterned upper substrate with bridges makes the rigid substrate stretchable, while the pillars decentralize the stress on the device. Although various applications using micropillar arrays have been reported, it has not yet been reported how elastic pillar arrays can affect substrates by relieving the stress applied to those substrates upon stretching. Compared to results using similar layouts with conventional free-standing, flat substrates or island structures, their results with elastic pillar arrays show relatively low stress levels at both the bridges and plates when stretching the devices. They achieved stretchable RGB (red, green, blue) OLEDs and had no difficulties with material selection as practical processes were conducted with stress-relief substrates. Their stretchable OLEDs were mechanically stable and have two-dimensional stretchability, which is superior to only one-direction stretchable electronics, opening the way for practical applications like wearable electronics and health monitoring systems. Professor Choi said, “Our substrate design will impart flexibility into electronics technology development including semiconductor and circuit technologies. We look forward this new stretchable OLED lowering the barrier for entering the stretchable display market.” This research was published in Nano Letters titled Two-Dimensionally Stretchable Organic Light-Emitting Diode with Elastic Pillar Arrays for Stress Relief. (https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b03657). This work was supported by the Engineering Research Center of Excellence Program supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea. -Profile Professor Kyung Cheol Choi email@example.com http://adnc.kaist.ac.kr/ School of Electrical Engineering KAIST
The Medici Effect: Highly Flexible, Wearable Displays Born in KAIST
(Ph.D. candidate Seungyeop Choi) How do you feel when technology you saw in a movie is made into reality? Collaboration between the electrical engineering and textile industries has made TVs or smartphone screens displaying on clothing a reality. A research team led by Professor Kyung Cheol Choi at the School of Electrical Engineering presented wearable displays for various applications including fashion, IT, and healthcare. Integrating OLED (organic light-emitting diode) into fabrics, the team developed the most highly flexible and reliable technology for wearable displays in the world. Recently, information displays have become increasingly important as they construct the external part of smart devices for the next generation. As world trends are focusing on the Internet of Things (IoTs) and wearable technology, the team drew a lot of attention by making great progress towards commercializing clothing-shaped ‘wearable displays’. The research for realizing displays on clothing gained considerable attention from academia as well as industry when research on luminescence formed in fabrics was introduced in 2011; however, there was no technology for commercializing it due to its surface roughness and flexibility. Because of this technical limitation, clothing-shaped wearable displays were thought to be unreachable technology. However, the KAIST team recently succeeded in developing the world’s most highly efficient, light-emitting clothes that can be commercialized. The research team used two different approaches, fabric-type and fiber-type, in order to realize clothing-shaped wearable displays. In 2015, the team successfully laminated a thin planarization sheet thermally onto fabric to form a surface that is compatible with the OLEDs approximately 200 hundred nanometers thick. Also, the team reported their research outcomes on enhancing the reliability of operating fiber-based OLEDs. In 2016, the team introduced a dip-coating method, capable of uniformly depositing layers, to develop polymer light-emitting diodes, which show high luminance even on thin fabric. Based on the research performance in 2015 and 2016, Ph.D. candidate Seungyeop Choi took the lead in the research team and succeeded in realizing fabric-based OLEDs, showing high luminance and efficiency while maintaining the flexibility of the fabric. The long-term reliability of this wearable device that has the world’s best electrical and optical characteristics was verified through their self-developed, organic and inorganic encapsulation technology. According to the team, their wearable device facilitates the operation of OLEDs even at a bending radius of 2mm. According to Choi, “Having wavy structures and empty spaces, fiber plays a significant role in lowering the mechanical stress on the OLEDs.” “Screen displayed on our daily clothing is no longer a future technology,” said Professor Choi. “Light-emitting clothes will have considerable influence on not only the e-textile industry but also the automobile and healthcare industries.” Moreover, the research team remarked, “It means a lot to realize clothing-shaped OLEDs that have the world’s best luminance and efficiency. It is the most flexible fabric-based light-emitting device among those reported. Moreover, noting that this research carried out an in-depth analysis of the mechanical characteristics of the clothing-spared, light-emitting device, the research performance will become a guideline for developing the fabric-based electronics industry.” This research was funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and collaborated with KOLON Glotech, INC. The research performance was published in Scientific Reports in July. (OLEDs operating in fabrics) (Current-voltage-luminance and efficiency of the highly flexible, fabric-based OLEDs;Image of OLEDs after repetitive bending tests;Verification of flexibility through mechanical simulation)
Making Graphene Using Laser-induced Phase Separation
IBS & KAIST researchers clarify how laser annealing technology can lead to the production of ultrathin nanomaterials All our smart phones have shiny flat AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) displays. Behind each single pixel of these displays hides at least two silicon transistors which are mass-manufactured using laser annealing technology. While the traditional methods to make the transistors use temperature above 1,000°C, the laser technique reaches the same results at low temperatures even on plastic substrates (melting temperature below 300°C). Interestingly, a similar procedure can be used to generate crystals of graphene. Graphene is a strong and thin nano-material made of carbon, its electric and heat-conductive properties have attracted the attention of scientists worldwide. Professor Keon Jae Lee of the Materials Science and Engineering Department at KAIST and his research group at the Center for Multidimensional Carbon Materials within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), as well as Professor Sung-Yool Choi of the Electrical Engineering School at KAIST and his research team discovered graphene synthesis mechanism using laser-induced solid-state phase separation of single-crystal silicon carbide (SiC). This study, available in Nature Communications, clarifies how this laser technology can separate a complex compound (SiC) into its ultrathin elements of carbon and silicon. Although several fundamental studies presented the effect of excimer lasers in transforming elemental materials like silicon, the laser interaction with more complex compounds like SiC has rarely been studied due to the complexity of compound phase transition and ultra-short processing time. With high resolution microscope images and molecular dynamic simulations, scientists found that a single-pulse irradiation of xenon chloride excimer laser of 30 nanoseconds melts SiC, leading to the separation of a liquid SiC layer, a disordered carbon layer with graphitic domains (about 2.5 nm thick) on top surface and a polycrystalline silicon layer (about 5 nm) below carbon layer. Giving additional pulses causes the sublimation of the separated silicon, while the disordered carbon layer is transformed into a multilayer graphene. "This research shows that the laser material interaction technology can be a powerful tool for the next generation of two dimensional nanomaterials," said Professor Lee. Professor Choi added: "Using laser-induced phase separation of complex compounds, new types of two dimensional materials can be synthesized in the future." High-resolution transmission electron microscopy shows that after just one laser pulse of 30 nanoseconds, the silicon carbide (SiC) substrate is melted and separates into a carbon and a silicon layer. More pulses cause the carbon layer to organize into graphene and the silicon to leave as gas. Molecular dynamics simulates the graphene formation mechanism. The carbon layer on the top forms because the laser-induced liquid SiC (SiC (l)) is unstable. (Press Release by Courtesy of the Institute for Basic Science (IBS))
Graphene-Based Transparent Electrodes for Highly Efficient Flexible OLEDs
A Korean research team developed an ideal electrode structure composed of graphene and layers of titanium dioxide and conducting polymers, resulting in highly flexible and efficient OLEDs. The arrival of a thin and lightweight computer that even rolls up like a piece of paper will not be in the far distant future. Flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), built upon a plastic substrate, have received greater attention lately for their use in next-generation displays that can be bent or rolled while still operating. A Korean research team led by Professor Seunghyup Yoo from the School of Electrical Engineering, KAIST and Professor Tae-Woo Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) has developed highly flexible OLEDs with excellent efficiency by using graphene as a transparent electrode (TE) which is placed in between titanium dioxide (TiO2) and conducting polymer layers. The research results were published online on June 2, 2016 in Nature Communications. OLEDs are stacked in several ultra-thin layers on glass, foil, or plastic substrates, in which multi-layers of organic compounds are sandwiched between two electrodes (cathode and anode). When voltage is applied across the electrodes, electrons from the cathode and holes (positive charges) from the anode draw toward each other and meet in the emissive layer. OLEDs emit light as an electron recombines with a positive hole, releasing energy in the form of a photon. One of the electrodes in OLEDs is usually transparent, and depending on which electrode is transparent, OLEDs can either emit from the top or bottom. In conventional bottom-emission OLEDs, an anode is transparent in order for the emitted photons to exit the device through its substrate. Indium-tin-oxide (ITO) is commonly used as a transparent anode because of its high transparency, low sheet resistance, and well-established manufacturing process. However, ITO can potentially be expensive, and moreover, is brittle, being susceptible to bending-induced formation of cracks. Graphene, a two-dimensional thin layer of carbon atoms tightly bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice, has recently emerged as an alternative to ITO. With outstanding electrical, physical, and chemical properties, its atomic thinness leading to a high degree of flexibility and transparency makes it an ideal candidate for TEs. Nonetheless, the efficiency of graphene-based OLEDs reported to date has been, at best, about the same level of ITO-based OLEDs. As a solution, the Korean research team, which further includes Professors Sung-Yool Choi (Electrical Engineering) and Taek-Soo Kim (Mechanical Engineering) of KAIST and their students, proposed a new device architecture that can maximize the efficiency of graphene-based OLEDs. They fabricated a transparent anode in a composite structure in which a TiO2 layer with a high refractive index (high-n) and a hole-injection layer (HIL) of conducting polymers with a low refractive index (low-n) sandwich graphene electrodes. This is an optical design that induces a synergistic collaboration between the high-n and low-n layers to increase the effective reflectance of TEs. As a result, the enhancement of the optical cavity resonance is maximized. The optical cavity resonance is related to the improvement of efficiency and color gamut in OLEDs. At the same time, the loss from surface plasmon polariton (SPP), a major cause for weak photon emissions in OLEDs, is also reduced due to the presence of the low-n conducting polymers. Under this approach, graphene-based OLEDs exhibit 40.8% of ultrahigh external quantum efficiency (EQE) and 160.3 lm/W of power efficiency, which is unprecedented in those using graphene as a TE. Furthermore, these devices remain intact and operate well even after 1,000 bending cycles at a radius of curvature as small as 2.3 mm. This is a remarkable result for OLEDs containing oxide layers such as TiO2 because oxides are typically brittle and prone to bending-induced fractures even at a relatively low strain. The research team discovered that TiO2 has a crack-deflection toughening mechanism that tends to prevent bending-induced cracks from being formed easily. Professor Yoo said, “What’s unique and advanced about this technology, compared with previous graphene-based OLEDs, is the synergistic collaboration of high- and low-index layers that enables optical management of both resonance effect and SPP loss, leading to significant enhancement in efficiency, all with little compromise in flexibility.” He added, “Our work was the achievement of collaborative research, transcending the boundaries of different fields, through which we have often found meaningful breakthroughs.” Professor Lee said, “We expect that our technology will pave the way to develop an OLED light source for highly flexible and wearable displays, or flexible sensors that can be attached to the human body for health monitoring, for instance.” The research paper is entitled “Synergistic Electrode Architecture for Efficient Graphene-based Flexible Organic Light-emitting Diodes” (DOI. 10.1038/NCOMMS11791). The lead authors are Jae-Ho Lee, a Ph.D. candidate at KAIST; Tae-Hee Han, a Ph.D. researcher at POSTECH; and Min-Ho Park, a Ph.D. candidate at POSTECH. This study was supported by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) through the Center for Advanced Flexible Display (CAFDC) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP); by the Center for Advanced Soft-Electronics funded by the MSIP as a Global Frontier Project; by the Graphene Research Center Program of KAIST; and by grants from the IT R&D Program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea (MOTIE). Figure 1: Application of Graphene-based OLEDs This picture shows an OLED with the composite structure of TiO2/graphene/conducting polymer electrode in operation. The OLED exhibits 40.8% of ultrahigh external quantum efficiency (EQE) and 160.3 lm/W of power efficiency. The device prepared on a plastic substrate shown in the right remains intact and operates well even after 1,000 bending cycles at a radius of curvature as small as 2.3 mm. Figure 2: Schematic Device Structure of Graphene-based OLEDs This picture shows the new architecture to develop highly flexible OLEDs with excellent efficiency by using graphene as a transparent electrode (TE).
Professor Soon-Heung Chang meets with Bill Gates and discusses possible collaboration
Professor Soon-Heung Chang from the Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering, KAIST, who is also the president of Korea Nuclear Society (KNS), met Bill Gates, the co-founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of Microsoft, on August 16, 2012 and discussed ways to cooperate for the development of a sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), a next generation nuclear power reactor. According to Professor Chang, Bill Gates was amazed at Korea’s successful bids for nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates, even though Korea was a latecomer in the field of nuclear power. Bill Gates also showed a keen interest in Korea’s low electricity rates. Gates focuses on solving fundamental problems in order to help improve the quality of life for humanity, rather than short-term temporary solutions, through infrastructure development such as energy. Particularly, he considers nuclear power as one of the most effective ways to supply clean energy which can provide electricity at a low cost while keeping carbon dioxide emission levels much lower than fossil fuels. Bill Gates is a primary investor for an energy company called “TerraPower” based in Bellevue, Washington. TerraPower develops and commercializes nuclear power technology for a traveling wave reactor (TWR) that is designed to use spent fuels, i.e., depleted uranium, and runs technically “forever” because once fueled, the reactor does not need to be refueled for over 50 years. TerraPower’s TWR is to use metallic fuel, and Korea is the only country that currently develops SFR (KALIMER 600) using metallic fuel. “Korea has an outstanding supply chain for the entire lifecycle of a nuclear power station from equipment manufacturing to operation,” said Professor Chang, while emphasizing the synergistic effects of forming partnership between Korea and TerraPower. Professor Chang emphasized that Korea should create an opportunity based on lessons learned from the Fukushima crisis and actively move forward to achieve its leading position in the field of next generation nuclear reactors. He said that cooperation with Bill Gates will be a significant step towards the development of next generation nuclear reactors. About Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) is a next-generation nuclear power reactor that will use spent fuels from conventional reactors. Arrangement of a fuel recycling system in conjunction with currently-developing pyroprocessing technology would enable U-238, which makes up over 99% of natural uranium, to be used as a nuclear fuel. This would greatly reduce the toxicity and volume of spent fuels by up to 1,000 times and 100 times respectively when compared to existing reactors. This is truly a breakthrough innovation in spent fuel disposal and recycling.
KAIST developed a plastic film board less sensitive to heat.
The research result was made the cover of magazine, Advanced Materials and is accredited to paving the way to commercialize flexible display screens and solar power cells. Transparent plastic and glass cloths, which have a limited thermal expansion needed for the production of flexible display screens and solar power cells, were developed by Korean researchers. The research, led by KAIST’s Professor Byoung-Soo Bae, was funded by the Engineering Research Center under the initiative of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. The research result was printed as the cover paper of ‘Advanced Materials’ which is the leading magazine in the field of materials science. Professor Bae’s team developed a hybrid material with the same properties as fiber glass. With the material, they created a transparent, plastic film sheet resistant to heat. Transparent plastic film sheets were used by researchers all over the world to develop devices such as flexible displays or solar power cells that can be fit into various living spaces. However, plastic films are heat sensitive and tend to expand as temperature increases, thereby making it difficult to produce displays or solar power cells. The new transparent, plastic film screen shows that heat expansion index (13ppm/oC) similar to that of glass fiber (9ppm/oC) due to the presence of glass fibers; its heat resistance allows to be used for displays and solar power cells over 250oC. Professor Bae’s team succeeded in producing a flexible thin plastic film available for use in LCD or AMOLED screens and thin solar power cells. Professor Bae commented, “Not only the newly developed plastic film has superior qualities, compared to the old models, but also it is cheap to produce, potentially bringing forward the day when flexible displays and solar panels become commonplace. With the cooperation of various industries, research institutes and universities, we will strive to improve the existing design and develop it further.”
Prof. Choi Unveils Method to Improve Emission Efficiency of OLED
A KAIST research team led by Prof. Kyung-Cheol Choi of the School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science discovered the surface plasmon-enhanced spontaneous emission based on an organic light-emitting device (OLED), a finding expected to improve OLED"s emission efficiency, KAIST authorities said on Thursday (July 9). For surface plasmon localization, silver nanoparticles were thermally deposited in a high vacuum on cathode. Since plasmons provide a strong oscillator decay channel, time-resolved photoluninescene (PL) results displayed a 1.75-fold increased emission rate, and continuous wave PL results showed a twofold enhanced intensity. "The method using surface plasmon represents a new technology to enhance the emission efficiency of OLED. It is expected to greatly contribute to the development of new technologies in OLED and flexible display, as well as securing original technology," Prof. Choi said. The finding was published in the April issue of Applied Physics Letters and the June 25 issue of Optics Express. It will be also featured as the research highlight of the August issue of Nature Photonics and Virtual Journal of Ultrafast Science.
Youngseok Son and Yongjoon Chun won a prize of Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister
Youngseok Son and Yongjoon Chun won a prize of Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Youngseok Son and Yongjoon Chun, doctorate students at circuit design and system application lab of Electrical Engineering Division, won a prize of Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister (Silver prize) at the 7th Semiconductor Design Contest hosted by the Korean Intellectual Property Office. Their work exhibited at the contest is ‘a driving circuit for the improvement of image quality of AMOLED display’. AMOLED display is gaining attention as a next-generation display for its numberless advantages compared to AMLCD and PDP, however, problems over the image quality and lifespan of the display have disturbed the substantial development. Their work verified its electrical features by proposing and designing the driving method and circuit for the improvement of the image quality and lifespan of AMOLED display. The announced driving method was named ‘Transient Cancellation Feedback (FCF)’ and its concept was published in SID 2006. Their work was evaluated to overcome the limitation of the existing driving methods by providing an intrinsic Active Matrix structure, different from the existing driving methods. It is also evaluated to strikingly enhance the speed and accuracy of data current driving through TCF driving. It is expected to significantly enhance the image quality and lifespan of AMOLED displays by applying TCF driving.
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