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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
KAIST Research Team Proves How a Neurotransmitter may be the Key in Controlling Alzheimer’s Toxicity
With nearly 50 million dementia patients worldwide, and Alzheimers’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease. Its main symptom is the impairment of general cognitive abilities, including the ability to speak or to remember. The importance of finding a cure is widely understood with increasingly aging population and the life expectancy being ever-extended. However, even the cause of the grim disease is yet to be given a clear definition. A KAIST research team in the Department of Chemistry led by professor Mi Hee Lim took on a lead to discovered a new role for somatostatin, a protein-based neurotransmitter, in reducing the toxicity caused in the pathogenic mechanism taken towards development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study was published in the July issue of Nature Chemistry under the title, “Conformational and functional changes of the native neuropeptide somatostatin occur in the presence of copper and amyloid-β”. According to the amyloid hypothesis, the abnormal deposition of Aβ proteins causes death of neuronal cells. While Aβ agglomerations make up most of the aged plaques through fibrosis, in recent studies, high concentrations of transitional metal were found in the plaques from Alzheimer’s patients. This suggests a close interaction between metallic ions and Aβ, which accelerates the fibrosis of proteins. Copper in particular is a redox-activating transition metal that can produce large amounts of oxygen and cause serious oxidative stress on cell organelles. Aβ proteins and transition metals can closely interact with neurotransmitters at synapses, but the direct effects of such abnormalities on the structure and function of neurotransmitters are yet to be understood. Figure 1. Functional shift of somatostatin (SST) by factors in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Figure 2. Somatostatin’s loss-of-function as neurotransmitter. a. Schematic diagram of SST auto-aggregation due to Alzheimer's pathological factors. b. SST’s aggregation by copper ions. c. Coordination-prediction structure and N-terminal folding of copper-SST. d. Inhibition of SST receptor binding specificity by metals. In their research, Professor Lim’s team discovered that when somatostatin, the protein-based neurotransmitter, is met with copper, Aβ, and metal-Aβ complexes, self-aggregates and ceases to perform its innate function of transmitting neural signals, but begins to attenuate the toxicity and agglomeration of metal-Aβ complexes. Figure 3. Gain-of-function of somatostatin (SST) in the dementia setting. a. Prediction of docking of SST and amyloid beta. b. SST making metal-amyloid beta aggregates into an amorphous form. c. Cytotoxic mitigation effect of SST. d. SST mitigating the interaction between amyloid beta protein with the cell membrane. This research, by Dr. Jiyeon Han et al. from the KAIST Department of Chemistry, revealed the coordination structure between copper and somatostatin at a molecular level through which it suggested the agglomeration mechanism, and discovered the effects of somatostatin on Aβ agglomeration path depending on the presence or absence of metals. The team has further confirmed somatostatin’s receptor binding, interactions with cell membranes, and effects on cell toxicity for the first time to receive international attention. Professor Mi Hee Lim said, “This research has great significance in having discovered a new role of neurotransmitters in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.” “We expect this research to contribute to defining the pathogenic network of neurodegenerative diseases caused by aging, and to the development of future biomarkers and medicine,” she added. This research was conducted jointly by Professor Seung-Hee Lee’s team of KAIST Department of Biological Sciences, Professor Kiyoung Park’s Team of KAIST Department of Chemistry, and Professor Yulong Li’s team of Peking University. The research was funded by Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea and KAIST. For more information about the research team, visit the website: https://sites.google.com/site/miheelimlab/1-professor-mi-hee-lim.
Atomically-Smooth Gold Crystals Help to Compress Light for Nanophotonic Applications
Highly compressed mid-infrared optical waves in a thin dielectric crystal on monocrystalline gold substrate investigated for the first time using a high-resolution scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscope. KAIST researchers and their collaborators at home and abroad have successfully demonstrated a new platform for guiding the compressed light waves in very thin van der Waals crystals. Their method to guide the mid-infrared light with minimal loss will provide a breakthrough for the practical applications of ultra-thin dielectric crystals in next-generation optoelectronic devices based on strong light-matter interactions at the nanoscale. Phonon-polaritons are collective oscillations of ions in polar dielectrics coupled to electromagnetic waves of light, whose electromagnetic field is much more compressed compared to the light wavelength. Recently, it was demonstrated that the phonon-polaritons in thin van der Waals crystals can be compressed even further when the material is placed on top of a highly conductive metal. In such a configuration, charges in the polaritonic crystal are “reflected” in the metal, and their coupling with light results in a new type of polariton waves called the image phonon-polaritons. Highly compressed image modes provide strong light-matter interactions, but are very sensitive to the substrate roughness, which hinders their practical application. Challenged by these limitations, four research groups combined their efforts to develop a unique experimental platform using advanced fabrication and measurement methods. Their findings were published in Science Advances on July 13. A KAIST research team led by Professor Min Seok Jang from the School of Electrical Engineering used a highly sensitive scanning near-field optical microscope (SNOM) to directly measure the optical fields of the hyperbolic image phonon-polaritons (HIP) propagating in a 63 nm-thick slab of hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) on a monocrystalline gold substrate, showing the mid-infrared light waves in dielectric crystal compressed by a hundred times. Professor Jang and a research professor in his group, Sergey Menabde, successfully obtained direct images of HIP waves propagating for many wavelengths, and detected a signal from the ultra-compressed high-order HIP in a regular h-BN crystals for the first time. They showed that the phonon-polaritons in van der Waals crystals can be significantly more compressed without sacrificing their lifetime. This became possible due to the atomically-smooth surfaces of the home-grown gold crystals used as a substrate for the h-BN. Practically zero surface scattering and extremely small ohmic loss in gold at mid-infrared frequencies provide a low-loss environment for the HIP propagation. The HIP mode probed by the researchers was 2.4 times more compressed and yet exhibited a similar lifetime compared to the phonon-polaritons with a low-loss dielectric substrate, resulting in a twice higher figure of merit in terms of the normalized propagation length. The ultra-smooth monocrystalline gold flakes used in the experiment were chemically grown by the team of Professor N. Asger Mortensen from the Center for Nano Optics at the University of Southern Denmark. Mid-infrared spectrum is particularly important for sensing applications since many important organic molecules have absorption lines in the mid-infrared. However, a large number of molecules is required by the conventional detection methods for successful operation, whereas the ultra-compressed phonon-polariton fields can provide strong light-matter interactions at the microscopic level, thus significantly improving the detection limit down to a single molecule. The long lifetime of the HIP on monocrystalline gold will further improve the detection performance. Furthermore, the study conducted by Professor Jang and the team demonstrated the striking similarity between the HIP and the image graphene plasmons. Both image modes possess significantly more confined electromagnetic field, yet their lifetime remains unaffected by the shorter polariton wavelength. This observation provides a broader perspective on image polaritons in general, and highlights their superiority in terms of the nanolight waveguiding compared to the conventional low-dimensional polaritons in van der Waals crystals on a dielectric substrate. Professor Jang said, “Our research demonstrated the advantages of image polaritons, and especially the image phonon-polaritons. These optical modes can be used in the future optoelectronic devices where both the low-loss propagation and the strong light-matter interaction are necessary. I hope that our results will pave the way for the realization of more efficient nanophotonic devices such as metasurfaces, optical switches, sensors, and other applications operating at infrared frequencies.” This research was funded by the Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center of Samsung Electronics and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF). The Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, and The Villum Foundation, Denmark, also supported the work. Figure. Nano-tip is used for the ultra-high-resolution imaging of the image phonon-polaritons in hBN launched by the gold crystal edge. Publication: Menabde, S. G., et al. (2022) Near-field probing of image phonon-polaritons in hexagonal boron nitride on gold crystals. Science Advances 8, Article ID: eabn0627. Available online at https://science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abn0627. Profile: Min Seok Jang, MS, PhD Associate Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://janglab.org/ Min Seok Jang Research Group School of Electrical Engineering http://kaist.ac.kr/en/ Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Daejeon, Republic of Korea
2022 KAIST Research Day Recognizes 10 Outstanding Researches
On May 31, the 2022 KAIST Research Day was held at the Jeongo Geun-mo Conference Hall at KAIST’s main campus. Since 2016, Research Day has been a yearly festival for researchers at KAIST. By introducing major research achievements and providing opportunities for information exchanges in R&D, it aims to create an atmosphere for mutual cooperation and communication amongst researchers, thereby vitalizing interdisciplinary research. At this year’s event, 10 faculty members and their representative research achievements were rewarded. As the winner of the Grand Prize for Research, Professor Il-Doo Kim (Department of Materials Science and Engineering) gave a lecture on his topic, “Ultrasensitive flexible chemical sensor”. With rising attention being given to environmental safety and healthcare, the importance of mobile sensors for trace amounts of molecules that can quickly raise hazard signals and allow early diagnosis from breath analysis have been brought to light. The lecture will break down ultrasensitive chemical sensor development cases, and introduced how gas sensor technologies developed at KAIST in particular are being applied at semiconductor and display fabrication plants for environmental and safety analyses and hazard prevention. Professor Il-Doo Kim is a recognized researcher for his inventive achievements in the fields of respiratory gas sensor technology for early disease monitoring, and ordered nanofiber membranes for antiviral and fine dust filters. Professor Kim has so far published 343 international research papers, received 56 journal covers, been awarded 230 domestic and international patents, and completed 12 technology transfers. He has also received a presidential award on the 51st invention day in 2016, Scientist of the Year Award selected by reporters in 2019, and has been named a fellow in the engineering division of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology in 2022. Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho at the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering and Professor Doh Chang Lee at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering were each awarded the Research Award, and Professor Dongsoo Han at the School of Computing received the Innovation Award. Professors Buhm Soon Park at the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, Changick Kim at the School of Electrical Engineering and Hyun Jung Cho at the School of Digital Humanities and Computational Social Sciences received the Interdisciplinary Research Award as a team. The passion and experiences of the awardees are to be introduced to undergraduate and graduate students as well as fellow researchers through a pre-recorded video lecture, while the lecture of the winner of the grand prize will be delivered on site. Meanwhile, the top ten R&D achievements of KAIST selected excellent research outcomes from the natural and biological sciences including “Polariton-based PT symmetry laser that turns loss into gain” (Professor Yong-Hoon Cho at the Department of Physics), “Solution to the Riemann Problem including weak shock waves in 1-dimensional space” (Professor Moon-Jin Kang at the Department of Mathematical Sciences), and “Characterization of immune reaction in COVID-19 patients” (Professor Eui-Cheol Shin at the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering.) Awardees from the engineering field included “Fluid surface stabilization technology using plasma jet” (Professor Wonho Choe at the Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering, “Visual recognition technology using event-based cameras” (Professor Kuk-Jin Yoon at theDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, “Artificial sensory system development through neural signal mimicry” (Professor Seongjun Park at the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, “Mott transition material-based ultrahigh speed, low-power, and deformation-resistant true random number generator” (Professor Kyung Min Kim at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, “Investment service design based on Aline: ESG” (Professor Sangsu Lee at the Department of Industrial Design), “Structural color printing technology without chemical colorings” (Professor Shin-Hyun Kim at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), and “Differentiable transient optical transfer simulation” (Professor Minhyuk Kim at the School of Computing) To encourage the participation of members of KAIST, all parts of the ceremony will be broadcast live through YouTube in both English and Korean.” He added, “Offline audiences will congratulate the awardees at Fusion Hall in the KI Building and gain research ideas.”
Distinguished Professor Sukbok Chang Named the 2022 Ho-Am Laureate
Distinguished Professor Sukbok Chang from the Department of Chemistry was named the awardee of the Ho-Am Prize in the fields of chemistry and life sciences. The award has recognized the most distinguished scholars, individuals, and organizations in physics and mathematics, chemistry and life sciences, engineering, medicine, arts, and community service in honor of the late founder of Samsung Group Byong-Chul Lee, whose penname is Ho-Am. The awards ceremony will be held on May 31 and awardees will receive 300 million KRW in prize money. Professor Chang became the fourth KAIST Ho-Am laureate following Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee in engineering in 2014, Distinguished Professor Jun Ho Oh in engineering in 2016, and Distinguished Professor Gou Young Koh in medicine in 2018. Professor Chang is a renowned chemist who has made pioneering research in the area of transition metal catalysis for organic transformations. Professor Chang is also one of the Highly Cited Researchers who rank in the top 1% of citations by field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index. He has made the list seven years in a row from 2016. Professor Chang has developed a range of new and impactful C-H bond functionalization reactions. By using his approaches, value-added molecules can be readily produced from chemical feedstocks, representatively hydrocarbons and (hetero)arenes. His research team elucidated fundamental key mechanistic aspects in the course of the essential C-H bond activation process of unreactive starting materials. He was able to utilize the obtained mechanistic understanding for the subsequent catalyst design to develop more efficient and highly (stereo)selective catalytic reactions. Among the numerous contributions he made, the design of new mechanistic approaches toward metal nitrenoid transfers are of especially high impact to the chemical community. Indeed, a series of important transition metal catalyst systems were developed by Professor Chang to enable the direct and selective C-H amidation of unreactive organic compounds, thereby producing aminated compounds that have important applicability in synthetic, medicinal, and materials science. He has also pioneered in the area of asymmetric C-H amination chemistry by creatively devising various types of chiral transition metal catalyst systems, and his team proved for the first time that chiral lactam compounds can be obtained at an excellent level of stereoselectivity. Another significant contribution of Professor. Chang was the introduction of dioxazolones as a robust but highly reactive source of acyl nitrenoids for the catalytic C-H amidation reactions, and this reagent is now broadly utilized in synthetic chemistry worldwide. Professor Chang also leads a research group in the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalizations at the Institute for Basic Science.
Perigee-KAIST Rocket Research Center Launches Scientific Rocket
Undergraduate startup Perigree Aerospace develops suborbital rocket called Blue Whale 0.1 On December 29, Perigee Aerospace, an undergraduate startup, launched a test rocket with a length of 3.2 m, a diameter of 19 cm, and a weight of 51 kg, using ethanol and liquid oxygen as fuel. The launch took place off Jeju Island. It was aimed at building experience and checking the combustion of a liquid propulsion engine and the performance of pre-set flight and trajectory, communication, and navigation devices. It was also one of the projects marking the 50th anniversary of KAIST in 2021. However, after flying for several seconds, the rocket lost its track due to a gust of wind that activated the rocket’s automatic flight suspension system. "At the moment the rocket took off, there was a much stronger gust than expected," Dong-Yoon Shin, CEO of Perigee said. "The wind sent it flying off course and the automatic flight suspension system stopped its engine." However, Shin was not disappointed, saying the launch, which was conducted in collaboration with Perigee-KAIST Rocket Research Center provided a good experience. "Some people say that Blue Whale 0.1 is like a toy because of its small size. Of course, it's much smaller than the rockets I’ve dreamed of, but like other rockets, it has all the technology needed for launch," said Shin, who established his company in 2018 as a KAIST aerospace engineering student to develop small liquid-propellant orbital rockets. Perigee Aerospace aims to develop the world’s lightest launch vehicle using high-powered engines, with a goal of leading the global market for small launch vehicles in the new space generation. Perigee-KAIST Rocket Research Center was founded in 2019 for the research and development of rocket propellants and has been testing the combustion of rocket engines of various sizes in their liquid propellant rocket combustion lab located on the KAIST Munji Campus. The research center initiated the 50th anniversary rocket launch project in late April of last year, finished the examination of their preliminary design in late May, and secured a tentative launching site through the KAIST-Jejudo agreement in early July. The ethanol engine combustion was tested in late July, and an examination meeting regarding the detailed design that took place in late August was followed by two months of static firing tests of the assembled rocket in October and November. This was a very meaningful trial in which a domestic private enterprise founded by a college student collaborated with a university to successfully develop and launch a technically challenging liquid propellant rocket. Shin's near-term goal is to launch a two-stage orbital rocket that uses liquid methane as fuel and weighs 1.8 tons. To secure competitiveness in the small projectile market, KAIST and Perigee Aerospace have set up a joint research center to test various rocket engine sizes and develop the world's lightest projectile using a high-performance engine. Professor Jae-Hung Han, head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, said, “The scientific rocket system secured through the launch of the celebratory rocket will be utilized for design and system-oriented education, and for carrying out various scientific missions.” He added, “It is very rare both domestically and globally that a scientific rocket designed by the initiatives of a department should be incorporated as part of a regular aerospace system design curriculum. This will be an exemplary case we can boast about to the rest of the world.” Perigee Aerospace will improve the technology they have developed through the course of this project to develop subminiature vehicles they may use to launch small satellites into the low Earth orbit. Shin said, “I am happy just with the fact that we have participated in a rocket project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of KAIST, and I would like to thank the engineers at my company and members of the KAIST Department of Aerospace Engineering.” He added, “I’m looking forward to the day that we develop a space launch vehicle that can deliver satellites even higher.”
Team KAIST Makes Its Presence Felt in the Self-Driving Tech Industry
Team KAIST finishes 4th at the inaugural CES Autonomous Racing Competition Team KAIST led by Professor Hyunchul Shim and Unmanned Systems Research Group (USRG) placed fourth in an autonomous race car competition in Las Vegas last week, making its presence felt in the self-driving automotive tech industry. Team KAIST, beat its first competitor, Auburn University, with speeds of up to 131 mph at the Autonomous Challenge at CES held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. However, the team failed to advance to the final round when it lost to PoliMOVE, comprised of the Polytechnic University of Milan and the University of Alabama, the final winner of the $150,000 USD race. A total of eight teams competed in the self-driving race. The race was conducted as a single elimination tournament consisting of multiple rounds of matches. Two cars took turns playing the role of defender and attacker, and each car attempted to outpace the other until one of them was unable to complete the mission. Each team designed the algorithm to control its racecar, the Dallara-built AV-21, which can reach a speed of up to 173 mph, and make it safely drive around the track at high speeds without crashing into the other. The event is the CES version of the Indy Autonomous Challenge, a competition that took place for the first time in October last year to encourage university students from around the world to develop complicated software for autonomous driving and advance relevant technologies. Team KAIST placed 4th at the Indy Autonomous Challenge, which qualified it to participate in this race. “The technical level of the CES race is much higher than last October’s and we had a very tough race. We advanced to the semifinals for two consecutive races. I think our autonomous vehicle technology is proving itself to the world,” said Professor Shim. Professor Shim’s research group has been working on the development of autonomous aerial and ground vehicles for the past 12 years. A self-driving car developed by the lab was certified by the South Korean government to run on public roads. The vehicle the team used cost more than 1 million USD to build. Many of the other teams had to repair their vehicle more than once due to accidents and had to spend a lot on repairs. “We are the only one who did not have any accidents, and this is a testament to our technological prowess,” said Professor Shim. He said the financial funding to purchase pricy parts and equipment for the racecar is always a challenge given the very tight research budget and absence of corporate sponsorships. However, Professor Shim and his research group plan to participate in the next race in September and in the 2023 CES race. “I think we need more systemic and proactive research and support systems to earn better results but there is nothing better than the group of passionate students who are taking part in this project with us,” Shim added.
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
Prof. Sang Wan Lee Selected for 2021 IBM Academic Award
Professor Sang Wan Lee from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering was selected as the recipient of the 2021 IBM Global University Program Academic Award. The award recognizes individual faculty members whose emerging science and technology contains significant interest for universities and IBM. Professor Lee, whose research focuses on artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience, won the award for his research proposal titled A Neuroscience-Inspired Approach for Metacognitive Reinforcement Learning. IBM provides a gift of $40,000 to the recipient’s institution in recognition of the selection of the project but not as a contract for services. Professor Lee’s project aims to exploit the unique characteristics of human reinforcement learning. Specifically, he plans to examines the hypothesis that metacognition, a human’s ability to estimate their uncertainty level, serves to guide sample-efficient and near-optimal exploration, making it possible to achieve an optimal balance between model-based and model-free reinforcement learning. He was also selected as the winner of the Google Research Award in 2016 and has been working with DeepMind and University College London to conduct basic research on decision-making brain science to establish a theory on frontal lobe meta-enhance learning. "We plan to conduct joint research for utilizing brain-based artificial intelligence technology and frontal lobe meta-enhanced learning technology modeling in collaboration with an international research team including IBM, DeepMind, MIT, and Oxford,” Professor Lee said.
KAIST to join Deep Space Exploration Project
KAIST agreed to launch the Deep Space Exploration Research Consortium with two key leading aerospace research institutes, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) during a recent meeting at the KAIST campus. President Kwang Hyung Lee, KARI President Sang-Yool Lee, KASI President Young-Deuk Park, and Vice Minister of Science and ICT Hong-taek Yong attended the meeting to discuss medium- and long-term deep space exploration plans and collaborations. The three entities have cooperated in scientific research for the last 30 years during which Korea has been developing its space exploration expertise. They signed the MoU for Cooperation for R&D and Industrialization on Deep Space Exploration’ last December. The research consortium will share and discuss research plans for space science research and exploration technology, and contribute to planning the nation’s deep space exploration. At the meeting, KAIST reported its plans to return KITSAT-1 to Earth, Korea’s first satellite using local technology, and to explore the radiation belt (the Van Allen belt) around Earth. KAIST launched Korea’s first satellite KITSAT-1 in 1992. Meanwhile, KARI shared their plans to launch a lunar landing module using a Korean Space Launch Vehicle by 2030 and explained the current technologies and research related to a lunar landing and space exploration. Based on the payload technology it has been building on for the last 20 years, KASI emphasized the importance of research for deep space exploration in relation to the formation of the universe and the origin of mankind. Vice Minister of Science and Technology Yong also stressed that “to enhance Korea’s capabilities for space research after launching our space launch vehicle, Nuri, in October, there must be continued efforts and preparation for higher level space research, including space exploration planning. The various experts’ opinions discussed in today’s meeting will be taken into consideration for governmental policies related to the ‘National Space Exploration Roadmap’ to be established in the latter half of this year.”
Research Day Highlights the Most Impactful Technologies of the Year
Technology Converting Full HD Image to 4-Times Higher UHD Via Deep Learning Cited as the Research of the Year The technology converting a full HD image into a four-times higher UHD image in real time via AI deep learning was recognized as the Research of the Year. Professor Munchurl Kim from the School of Electrical Engineering who developed the technology won the Research of the Year Grand Prize during the 2021 KAIST Research Day ceremony on May 25. Professor Kim was lauded for conducting creative research on machine learning and deep learning-based image processing. KAIST’s Research Day recognizes the most notable research outcomes of the year, while creating opportunities for researchers to immerse themselves into interdisciplinary research projects with their peers. The ceremony was broadcast online due to Covid-19 and announced the Ten R&D Achievement of the Year that are expected to make a significant impact. To celebrate the award, Professor Kim gave a lecture on “Computational Imaging through Deep Learning for the Acquisition of High-Quality Images.” Focusing on the fact that advancements in artificial intelligence technology can show superior performance when used to convert low-quality videos to higher quality, he introduced some of the AI technologies that are currently being applied in the field of image restoration and quality improvement. Professors Eui-Cheol Shin from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering and In-Cheol Park from the School of Electrical Engineering each received Research Awards, and Professor Junyong Noh from the Graduate School of Culture Technology was selected for the Innovation Award. Professors Dong Ki Yoon from the Department of Chemistry and Hyungki Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering were awarded the Interdisciplinary Award as a team for their joint research. Meanwhile, out of KAIST’s ten most notable R&D achievements, those from the field of natural and biological sciences included research on rare earth element-platinum nanoparticle catalysts by Professor Ryong Ryoo from the Department of Chemistry, real-time observations of the locational changes in all of the atoms in a molecule by Professor Hyotcherl Ihee from the Department of Chemistry, and an investigation on memory retention mechanisms after synapse removal from an astrocyte by Professor Won-Suk Chung from the Department of Biological Sciences. Awardees from the engineering field were a wearable robot for paraplegics with the world’s best functionality and walking speed by Professor Kyoungchul Kong from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, fair machine learning by Professor Changho Suh from the School of Electrical Engineering, and a generative adversarial networks processing unit (GANPU), an AI semiconductor that can learn from even mobiles by processing multiple and deep networks by Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo from the School of Electrical Engineering. Others selected as part of the ten research studies were the development of epigenetic reprogramming technology in tumour by Professor Pilnam Kim from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, the development of an original technology for reverse cell aging by Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, a heterogeneous metal element catalyst for atmospheric purification by Professor Hyunjoo Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and the Mobile Clinic Module (MCM): a negative pressure ward for epidemic hospitals by Professor Taek-jin Nam (reported at the Wall Street Journal) from the Department of Industrial Design.
Observing Individual Atoms in 3D Nanomaterials and Their Surfaces
Atoms are the basic building blocks for all materials. To tailor functional properties, it is essential to accurately determine their atomic structures. KAIST researchers observed the 3D atomic structure of a nanoparticle at the atom level via neural network-assisted atomic electron tomography. Using a platinum nanoparticle as a model system, a research team led by Professor Yongsoo Yang demonstrated that an atomicity-based deep learning approach can reliably identify the 3D surface atomic structure with a precision of 15 picometers (only about 1/3 of a hydrogen atom’s radius). The atomic displacement, strain, and facet analysis revealed that the surface atomic structure and strain are related to both the shape of the nanoparticle and the particle-substrate interface. Combined with quantum mechanical calculations such as density functional theory, the ability to precisely identify surface atomic structure will serve as a powerful key for understanding catalytic performance and oxidation effect. “We solved the problem of determining the 3D surface atomic structure of nanomaterials in a reliable manner. It has been difficult to accurately measure the surface atomic structures due to the ‘missing wedge problem’ in electron tomography, which arises from geometrical limitations, allowing only part of a full tomographic angular range to be measured. We resolved the problem using a deep learning-based approach,” explained Professor Yang. The missing wedge problem results in elongation and ringing artifacts, negatively affecting the accuracy of the atomic structure determined from the tomogram, especially for identifying the surface structures. The missing wedge problem has been the main roadblock for the precise determination of the 3D surface atomic structures of nanomaterials. The team used atomic electron tomography (AET), which is basically a very high-resolution CT scan for nanomaterials using transmission electron microscopes. AET allows individual atom level 3D atomic structural determination. “The main idea behind this deep learning-based approach is atomicity—the fact that all matter is composed of atoms. This means that true atomic resolution electron tomogram should only contain sharp 3D atomic potentials convolved with the electron beam profile,” said Professor Yang. “A deep neural network can be trained using simulated tomograms that suffer from missing wedges as inputs, and the ground truth 3D atomic volumes as targets. The trained deep learning network effectively augments the imperfect tomograms and removes the artifacts resulting from the missing wedge problem.” The precision of 3D atomic structure can be enhanced by nearly 70% by applying the deep learning-based augmentation. The accuracy of surface atom identification was also significantly improved. Structure-property relationships of functional nanomaterials, especially the ones that strongly depend on the surface structures, such as catalytic properties for fuel-cell applications, can now be revealed at one of the most fundamental scales: the atomic scale. Professor Yang concluded, “We would like to fully map out the 3D atomic structure with higher precision and better elemental specificity. And not being limited to atomic structures, we aim to measure the physical, chemical, and functional properties of nanomaterials at the 3D atomic scale by further advancing electron tomography techniques.” This research, reported at Nature Communications, was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea and the KAIST Global Singularity Research M3I3 Project. -Publication Juhyeok Lee, Chaehwa Jeong & Yongsoo Yang “Single-atom level determination of 3-dimensional surface atomic structure via neural network-assisted atomic electron tomography” Nature Communications -Profile Professor Yongsoo Yang Department of Physics Multi-Dimensional Atomic Imaging Lab (MDAIL) http://mdail.kaist.ac.kr KAIST
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