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Tactile Sensor for Robot Skin Advanced by KAIST Team
The joint research team of Professors Jung Kim and Inkyu Park from the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a tactile sensor that can act as skin for robots using silicon and carbon materials. This technology produced a sensor that can absorb shock and distinguish various forms of touch, and it is hoped to be used as robot skin in the future. Skin serves an important role as the largest organ of the human body. As well as protecting major organs from external shock, skin also measures and distinguishes delicate tactile information and transfer it to the nervous system. Current robotic sensory technology allows robots to have visual and auditory systems at nearly similar levels to human capacity, but there are limitations in tactile sensors that can detect changes in the environment throughout the body. To apply skin with similar functions as humans to robots, it is essential to develop skin sensor technology with high flexibility and high shock absorption. Another limitation for developing robot skin was connecting numerous sensors all over the body using electric wiring. To overcome this problem, the research team combined silicon and carbon nanotubes (CNT) to produce a composite, which was then used in combination with a medical imaging technique called electrical impedance tomography (EIT). This led to technology that can distinguish various forms of force over a large area without electrical wiring. The sensing material can distinguish the location and the size of various forms by touch, and thus can be applied to robot skin that can absorb shock as well as serves as a 3D computer interface and tactile sensor. It can withstand strong force such as a hammer strike, and can be re-used even after partial damage to the sensor by filling and hardening the damaged region with composite. Further, the sensor can be made by filling a 3D shape frame with silicon-nanotube composite. Using this technology, new forms of computer interaces can be developed with both curbed and flat surfaces. This research was conducted through a collaboration between Professor Park, an expert in nanostructures and sensors, and Professor Kim, an expert in bio-robotics. Hence, the technology is likely to be applied in real products. Professor Kim said, “Flexible tactile sensors can not only be directly adhered to the body, but they also provides information on modified states in multiple dimensions”. He continued, “This technology will contribute to the soft robot industry in the areas of robot skin and the field of wearable medical appliances.” Professor Park said, “This technology implemented a next-generation user interface through the integration of functional nano-composite material and computer tomography.” This research was published in Scientific Reports, a sister journal of Nature, online on January 25. This research was conducted as joint research by first author Hyo-Sang Lee, as well as Donguk Kwon and Ji-seung Cho, and was funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. (Fiigrue 1: Robotic hand responding to resistance via a connection with the developed tactile sensor) (Figure 2: Manufacturing process for pressure-resistant composite using silicon rubber and carbon nanotubes) (Figure 3: Computer interface using pressure-resistant composite)
Professor Won Do Heo Receives 'Scientist of the Month Award'
Professor Won Do Heo of the Department of Biological Sciences was selected as the “Scientist of the Month” for April 2017 by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the National Research Foundation of Korea. Professor Heo was recognized for his suggestion of a new biological research method developing various optogenetics technology which controls cell function by using light. He developed the technology using lasers or LED light, without the need for surgery or drug administration, to identify the cause of diseases related to calcium ions such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. The general technique used in optogenetics, that control cells in the body with light, is the simple activation and deactivation of neurons. Professor Heo developed a calcium ion channel activation technique (OptoSTIM1) to activate calcium ions in the body using light. He also succeeded in increasing calcium concentrations with light to enhance the memory capacity of mice two-fold. Using this technology, the desired amount and residing time of calcium ion influx can be controlled by changing light intensity and exposure periods, enabling the function of a single cell or various cells in animal tissue to be controlled remotely. The experimental results showed that calcium ion influx can be activated in cells that are affected by calcium ions, such as normal cells, cancer cells, and human embryonic stem cells. By controlling calcium concentrations with light, it is possible to control biological phenomena, such as cellular growth, neurotransmitter transmission, muscle contraction, and hormone control. Professor Heo said, “Until now, it was standard to use optogenetics to activate neurons using channelrhodopsin. The development of this new optogenetic technique using calcium ion channel activation can be applied to various biological studies, as well as become an essential research technique in neurobiology. The “Scientist of the Month Award” is given every month to one researcher who made significant contributions to the advancement of science and technology with their outstanding research achievement. The awardee will receive prize money of ten million won.
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.
Professor Kwangjo Kim Named as Fellow of IACR
Professor Kwangjo Kim of the Graduate School of Information Security has been selected as a fellow of the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR). The IACR has honored outstanding scholars who have achieved academic excellence in cryptologic research since 2004. He is the first Korean scholar to receive an IACR fellowship. The IACR, established in 1981, is responsible for organizing international cryptologic conferences every year including the three major cryptologic academic conferences Eurocrypt, Crypto, and Asiacript. The IACR also sponsors workshop series such as the Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC), the Workshop on Fast Software Encryption (FSE), the Public Key Cryptography Workshop (PKC), and Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems (CHES). Professor Kim, an internationally acclaimed scholar in the fields of cryptology and information security theory and its applications, was recognized for his outstanding academic achievements and leadership. He has made significant contributions to cryptology in Korea by hosting Asiacript in 1996 and 2001 as well as CHES in 2014. During his 34 years of academic activities, he has published more than 80 SCI journal papers and garnered more than 20,000 citations. Professor Kim served on the board of the directors of the IACR from 2000 to 2004 and was the chairperson of the Asiacript Steering Committee from 2005 to 2008. He is on the editorial board of the online journal Cryptography. Professor Kim said, “I am so humbled and honored to be named as a fellow of such a prestigious academic association. I will continue to strive to assist highly educated information security personnel with further research in cryptology.”
Dr. Sung-Chul Shin Selected 16th President of KAIST
(President Sung-Chul Shin) The KAIST Board of Trustees elected Professor Sung-Chul Shin of the Department of Physics the 16th president of KAIST on February 21. Professor Shin succeeds President Sung-Mo Kang whose four-year term will end on February 23. He is the first KAIST alumnus to serve as its president. The Board of Trustees announced, “We believe that Professor Shin’s scientific achievement, outstanding leadership, and clear vision will serve KAIST faculty, students, and staff very well. He will be the best person to help KAIST leap forward in the four years ahead.” The newly-elected president said, “I am humbled and honored to have been elected to lead such a prestigious institute of Korea. Aiming to be one of the top ten global universities, KAIST will continue to innovate its systems.” Previously, Dr. Shin led the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) for six years as president since 2011. Professor Shin joined the KAIST faculty in 1989. He graduated from Seoul National University and then earned his MS degree in condensed matter physics at KAIST in 1977. After earning his Ph.D. in material physics at Northwestern University in 1984, he worked at Eastman Kodak Research Labs as a senior research scientist for five years. Before heading to DGIST, President Shin held key administrative positions at KAIST from the early 1990s including dean of planning, dean of the international office, and vice-dean of student affairs. During President Robert Laughlin’s tenure, the first foreign president at KAIST, he served as vice-president for two years from 2004. He also served on the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology of the Korean government as vice chairperson from 2015 to 2016. A renowned scholar in the field of nanoscience, President Shin’s research focuses on the artificial synthesis and characterization of nonmagnetic materials, magnetic anisotropy, and magneto-optical phenomena. He leads the Laboratory for Nanospinics of Spintronic Materials at KAIST and has published in 290 journals while holding 37 patents. A fellow in the American Physical Society (APS) since 2008, he was the president of the Korean Physical Society from 2011 to 2012. He has been on the editorial board of J. Magnetism and Magnetic Materials from 2009 and was the first Korean recipient of the Asian Union of Magnetics Societies (AUMS) Award, which recognizes outstanding scientists in the field of magnetics. President Shin envisions making KAIST’s research and education more competitive through continuing innovation. His innovation efforts will extend to the five key areas of education, research, technology commercialization, globalization, and future planning. Among his priorities, he emphasizes multidisciplinary studies and leadership training for students. He plans to focus on undeclared major courses for undergraduates to help them expand their experience and exposure to diverse disciplines. This approach will help create well-rounded engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs by enabling them to develop skills while leveraging a strong connection to the arts, humanities, and social sciences. To better respond to Industry 4.0, which calls for convergence studies and collaborative work, he proposed establishing a ‘Convergence Innovation System’ by strategically selecting 10 flagship convergence research groups. In order to accelerate the technology commercialization and ecosystem of start-ups, he will strengthen entrepreneurship education, making it a prerequisite requirement for students. President Shin said he will spare no effort to incubate and spin-off ventures in which KAIST technology is being transferred. For globalization efforts, he plans to increase the ratio of foreign faculty from 9 percent to 15 percent, while doubling the current foreign student enrollment ratio of 5 percent. For future strategic innovation, he will implement a long-term innovation strategic plan dubbed ‘Vision 2031.’
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
Dr.M Drives Smart Healthcare Industry in Partnership with Hancom
President Sung-Mo Kang signed an agreement on January 25 with Hancom Group Chairman Sang Chul Kim to establish a smart healthcare complex in Gapyeong, Kyonggido. With the Gapyeong complex launch, KAIST will come to commercialize Dr. M system along with other Dr.M consortium members as a new growth engine to drive the smart health industry. Dr. M is a smart healthcare platform developed by the Health Science Research Institute at KAIST in 2014. Dr. M is capable of analyzing and predicting diseases, as well as prescribing, by incorporating ICT and medical technologies. Dr. M applies diverse technologies such as healthcare sensors, wearable devices, low-power communications technology, and cloud and big data collection platforms. Hancom Group, a leading computer software company in Korea, has participated in the project since 2015 for advancing the smart healthcare market by developing mobile healthcare software program. Hancom joined the Dr.M consortium launched last November. (President Kang (left) poses with Hancom Chairman Kim after signing.)
KAIST Intensive Science Camp for Middle-High School Students
The KAIST Global Institute of Talented Education (Director: Dong-Soo Kwon) invited around 90 middle and high school students for an advanced science intensive camp from January 22 to 24. This camp targeted middle and high school students in community centers or child-care institutions. It aims to increase students’ interest in science and engineering, and assist them with their career paths through programs such as special lectures on science, advanced science projects, and career mentoring. Participating students were divided into groups of seven or eight with a KAIST student as a mentor to conduct advanced science projects such as VR controller production and robot arm programming. The camp included exploring future career options and science and engineering college admission counselling. Jiyoung Ryu, Research Professor for the KAIST Global Institute of Talented Education, said, “KAIST started the science and engineering career experience program in 2016 with the Ministry of Education and Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET). So far, 6000 middle and high school students from around the country have participated. The camp is more meaningful since it educates students in social responsibility, in addition to the fields of science and engineering, both of which are missions and goals that KAIST strives for.” She continued to say, “We plan to continue to expand the program in the future.” The KAIST Global Institute of Talented Education is actively conducting research and projects on national education for talented youth such as policy research concerning gifted education, science and engineering career education, advanced science camps, training for gifted education teachers, and cyber gifted education programs.
A KAIST Team Wins the Chem-E-Car Competition 2016
A KAIST team consisted of four students from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering won the Chem-E-Car Competition 2016, which took place on November 13 at the Union Square in San Francisco. The students who participated were Young-Hyun Cha, Jin-Sol Shin, Dae-Seok Oh, and Wan-Tae Kim. Their adviser was Professor Doh Chang Lee of the same department. Established in 1999, the Chem-E-Car is an annual worldwide college competition for students majoring in chemical engineering. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), founded in 1908, is the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals with more than 50,000 members from over 100 countries and hosts this competition every year. A total of 41 university teams including Carnegie Mellon University and Purdue University participated in this year’s competition. KAIST students competed in the event for the first time in 2014 and reached the rank of 28. In 2015, the students placed 16th, and finally, took the first place in last month’s competition, followed by the Georgia Institute of Technology. In the competition, students must design small-scale (20x30x40 cm) automobiles that operate chemically, as well as describe their research and drive their car a fixed distance down a wedge-shaped course to demonstrate the car’s capabilities. In addition to driving a specified distance (15-30 meters), the car must hold a payload of 0-500 mL of water. The organizers tell participants the exact distance and amount of payloads one hour before the competition begins. Winners are chosen based on their finishing time and how close their car reaches the finish line. Thus, students must show sophisticated coordination of chemical reactions to win. The KAIST team designed their car to have a stable power output using a Vanadium redox flow battery developed by Professor Hee Tak Kim of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. They employed iodine clock reactions to induce quick and precise chemical reactions to control their car. KAIST’s car finished with the best run coming within 11 cm of the target line; Georgia Tech’s car reached the finish line by 13 cm and New Jersey Institute of Technology’s car by 14 cm. Young-Hyun Cha, one of the four students, said, “When we first designed our car, we had to deal with many issues such as stalls or connection errors. We kept working on fixing these problems through trial and error, which eventually led us to success.” For a news article on KAIST’s win at 2016 Chemi-E-Car Competition by AIChE, see the link below: http://www.aiche.org/chenected/2016/11/koreas-kaist-wins-1st-place-2016-chem-e-car-competition-photos
Professor Kwon to Represent the Asia-Pacific Region of the IEEE RAS
Professor Dong-Soon Kwon of the Mechanical Engineering Department at KAIST has been reappointed to the Administrative Committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE RAS). Beginning January 1, 2017, he will serve his second three-year term, which will end in 2019. In 2014, he was the first Korean appointed to the committee, representing the Asia-Pacific community of the IEEE Society. Professor Kwon said, “I feel thankful but, at the same time, it is a great responsibility to serve the Asian research community within the Society. I hope I can contribute to the development of robotics engineering in the region and in Korea as well.” Consisted of 18 elected members, the administrative committee manages the major activities of IEEE RAS including hosting its annual flagship meeting, the International Conference on Robotics and Automation. The IEEE RAS fosters the advancement in the theory and practice of robotics and automation engineering and facilitates the exchange of scientific and technological knowledge that supports the maintenance of high professional standards among its members.
Aerospace Engineering Students Win the Minister's Award
On November 11, 2016, students from KAIST’s Aerospace Engineering Department won the Minister’s Award of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea at the 14th Research Paper Competition hosted by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The award came with a cash prize of USD 1,200 as well as opportunities to visit international airshows held abroad. The KAIST students' paper introduced a novel design concept for "a virtual-fighter-pilot system for unmanned combat aerial vehicles to enable them to engage in mass aerial combat." This was one of the two highest honors given to contestants. A group of students from Korea Aerospace University received the other grand prize from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Korea. The KAIST team consisted of two doctoral students, Hee-Min Shin and Jae-Hyun Lee, and one Master’s student, Hyun-Gi Kim. Their advisor, Professor “David” Hyunchul Shim, received the Special Achievement Award for his contribution to the paper. KAI’s competition was established in 2003 to spur academic interest and research in aerospace engineering. Over the past 14 years, contestants have submitted 376 papers, and KAI has published 88 papers. KAI has positioned itself as the host of one of the most prestigious research paper competitions held in Korea in the area of aerospace engineering. The Korean Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences, the Korea Aerospace Industries Association, and the Korea Civil Aviation Development Association also sponsored the competition, with the Ministries of Trade, Industry and Energy and of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Professor Shim said, “This represents a great honor for our students. In recent years, research in unmanned aerial systems has increased tremendously throughout the world, and I hope KAIST will continue to inspire and innovate research in this field.” Pictured from left to right are Hee-Min Shin, Jae-Hyun Lee, and Hyun-Gi Kim. Pictured from right to left are Professor Hyunchul Shim, Hyun-Gi Kim, Hee-Min Shin, and Vice President Sung-Sup Chang of Korea Aerospace Industries.
Professor Kun-pyo Lee Appointed Honorary Fellow of the Design Research Society
Founded in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1966, the Design Research Society is an international academic organization that promotes excellence in design and supports the interests of the design research community. Professor Kun-pyo Lee of the Industrial Design Department at KAIST received his honorary fellowship from the Society at its 50th international conference held from June 27, 2016 to July 3, 2016 in Brighton, UK. The Society recognized Professor Lee’s academic achievements and his contribution to the advancement of design research nationally and globally. To date, only eight researchers have received honorary fellowships from the Society, and he is the first Asian to become an honorary fellow. Professor Lee has worked at KAIST for more than 30 years as a professor in industrial engineering and served on various important positions such as the president of the Korean Society of Design Science, the president of the International Association of Societies of Design Research, an executive vice president of the Corporate Design Center at LG Electronics, and an advisory board member for Human-centered Design Network in Japan and UXnet in the United States. By introducing the concept of user experience (UX) in Korea for the first time, he developed this field while focusing on user-centered designs to optimize interactive digital products as well as interaction design to create mental and physical interfaces between people and interactive digital products, services, and systems. Professor Lee said, “I am pleased to become an honorary fellow of the Design Research Society. For quiet some time, industrial design remained in the domain of practical studies, lacking the kind of support needed to grow as an independent academic and research discipline, but this has changed rapidly in recent years. I will continue to remain actively involved in the development of industrial design engineering in Korea and the world.”
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