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2018-02 04

[Academics][Excellent R&D] From Harmful to Useful

It is undoubtable that global warming and air pollution are two of the most serious and urgent problems that countries all over the world need to worry about as members of the planet. However, due to the industrial development and the necessities of life, goals and promises of reducing harmful gas are not successfully being met by the majority of the countries that pledge to do so. Sang Byoung-in (Department of Chemical Engineering), in an attempt to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, has suggested a way to make use of the bountiful resources around us in his research by the name, ‘Power to Gas Technology for Stability of Future Energy Provision.’ "The amount of carbon dioxide can be effectively reduced by capturing it and turning it into a useful gas." Previously, there has been an approach suggested to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It was to capture and store it, then bury it deep underground or under the ocean ground so that it would not cause any pollution in the air. This method is not being pervasively used because of the unfitting geological condition of Korea and its tremendous cost considering the amount of carbon dioxide that needs to be handled. To counteract this complication, Sang researched methods to utilize the captured carbon dioxide. By capturing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and separating hydrogen and methane in it, a new source of energy is created. Since methane gas is used in almost every aspect of our society, Sang’s research could greatly contribute to alleviating the current situation concerning air pollution and energy depletion. “Hydrogen could also be derived, but methane is a better option as it has a much wider range of usage and that it is far easier to store. Hydrogen would require costly equipment to deposit, unlike methane, which could be stored within affordability.” There are several reasons why methane gas is such a good product out of carbon dioxide. Since methane gas is commonly used in our daily life, converting carbon dioxide into methane gas would be both economically and environmentally favorable. It also means this new source of energy will be extremely convenient and effortless to supply. Since 90 to 100 percent of Korea is covered with methane gas pipelines, the newly generated energy will be conveniently supplied through the current infrastructure. Moreover, unlike other gases such as hydrogen, methane gas is easy to store because it does not require a special tank for storage. Hydrogen is difficult to store due to its minuscule molecular size, demanding special tanks of higher price. Most importantly, methane gas is incomparably more widely used—for power, heat, mobility, and more. By turning carbon dioxide into mathane, useful energy can be generated. (Photo courtesy of Sang) Furthermore, Sang’s research also focuses on cultivating the microorganism that produces methane on its own only by feeding on carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Such a microorganism is called hydrogenotrophic methanogen (methane-producing organism that feed on hydrogen), which could be cultivated in water of 55 to 65 degrees Celsius. Inside water, just by absorbing carbon dioxide and hydrogen, the microorganism could produce methane. The problem is, these microorganisms are quite fastidious and challenging to harvest. They are strictly anaerobic, meaning they cannot survive once they encounter oxygen. To overcome this challege, Sang is currently researching to successfully nurture the microorganism. In addition, his further goal of research is to cultivate methanogen that does not require hydrogen. The reason why the microorganism feeds on hydrogen is because they need electrons in it. However, Sang wants to cut down the cost of nurturing these microorganism by removing hydrogen in their production. To provide what they need for survival, Sang will research deeper on feeding the microorganism directly from the electrode so that the process of microorganism producing methane would be more effective in terms of cost and productivity. Sang and his students in his lab are researching to evolve microorganism that feeds on electrons. Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Lee Jin-myung

2018-01 08 Headline News

[Academics][Excellent R&D] Big Data and the Key to Handling Them

In the society where social networking is becoming more and more inseparable from people, an ever-increasing number of users are getting involved. As a consequence, the ocean of big data in corresponding area is expanding its capacity, and there has been a need to efficiently analyze and organize the data. In his Big Data Science Laboratory, Kim Sang-wook (Department of Computer Science) has been continuously researching the topic. In his recent paper “High-performance graph data processing on a single machine,” Kim has proposed a method to increase the performance of data processing and to efficiently arrange the mass of data. A graph or a network is a complex arrangement of nods and edges, which are the components of an online world such as its users and webpages and the relationships they have, respectively. In a social network, for example, each user will be labeled as a nod and the relationships that users have with other users or webpages will be marked as edges. “Where could this graph be used? Numerous types of data could be modeled in the form of this graph. For example, Facebook users and their friends, bloggers and their neighbors, and the recommender system of search engines such as Youtube, Amazon and more are all related to the graph of nods and edges.” Depending on who views what how many times or which page receives the most views, weights could be added onto the edge between the user and the page, zooming out of which will form a complex web of a graph. Big data is usually calculated in a matrix, the process which is made more efficient by Kim. (Photo courtesy of Kim) How Kim made the graph data processing more efficient is by creating three constructive approaches. First, he made matrix multiplication of data simpler and easier by balancing the load over each thread blocks of the matrix. When there is a poor balancing of load input in each row of the matrix, the multiplication process could take a long time and the performance might not be excellent. With the balanced threads of the matrix, however, even distribution of workloads would resolve this problem and it would be much less time-consuming compared to the previous method. Second, Kim created a graph engine, which is a storing software that handles data in a productive manner. In order to analyze a graph, the data must be saved in a disc first. In doing so, the tool that helps the disc to save the data more efficiently is the graph engine, which Kim proposed in his paper. “The strength of our laboratory is that we research on two aspects of data. By researching the performance-wise aspect of the data and also the analytical aspect, we leave no chance of missing a single detail of matter.” Thirdly, Kim introduced a placement algorithm that could simplify the arrangement of nods in a graph engine. Previously, when a graph undergoes a process of analysis in a graph engine, the data was put in the exact same order as it entered. Clusters of irrelevant nods could cause a delay in the data processing, which Kim solved by discovering that by sorting the nods of similar traits together, the overall performance of graph processing could show a big difference. With the same data, different outcomes could be derived by finding out the advantageous groupings of nods. With his current research of graph engine and graph modeling, he could use them as stepping stones to move onto his next research. Kim’s future research is directed toward community detection and recommender systems. With the modeled graph of data, analysis of the data could easily be made and the members of a social community with similar interests could conveniently be detected. On a similar note, a recommender system could be improved by analyzing what a user likes, clicks, views, buys, or prefers with the graph: a more accurate recommender system could be developed. With the building blocks he has worked on, Kim will be building on more as he carries on his future research. "Characteristics of the data could be figured out by analyzing the graphs." Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Kang Cho-hyun

2017-12 04

[Academics][Researcher of the Month] Obesity, Everyone’s Enemy

Regardless of gender, age, and nationality, obesity is a health problem that is affecting an increasing number of people. While most people think obesity merely has to do with dietary habit, it shows close relations with metabolic diseases and cancer. In other words, obesity is not just caused by the consumption of large calories, but there are other possible factors to it. Kim Yong-hee (Department of Bio-Engineering), whose interest lies in obesity and the ways to prevent and cure it, discovered an innovative way to counteract obesity in his paper “Visceral adipose tissue macrophage-targeted TACE silencing to treat obesity-induced type 2 diabetes,” which was coauthored by two of the graduate school students of the department: Song Yoon-sung (2nd year) and Yong Seok-beom (3rd year). Kim explained that by targeting the inflammation caused by the excess fats, obesity can be treated. The existing method used to treat obesity was to suppress appetite by touching the nerve system, for it was mainly believed that the root cause of obesity was excessive-consumption. However, Kim discovered in his laboratory that obesity has to do with inflammation within fat-storing tissues, which are called adipose tissues. Inside a patient’s body, the excess fat that cannot be stored in the adipose tissue spreads to its surroundings, which then causes inflammation when in contact with other types of cells. A type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests foreign cellular debris called macrophage are largely responsible for obesity-induced adipose tissue inflammation. A breakthrough in Kim’s research is that obesity can be treated by preventing the accumulation of fat within the body, by controlling the inflammation through gene delivery, not by suppressing appetite. In such a scenario, the gene delivery system Kim and his students have invented in the laboratory refers to the targeted gene delivery system that is capable of selectively targeting the visceral (relating to the intestines) adipose tissue macrophages, which are the major cause of inflammation because they produce a type of protein called cytokine. The excess fats that cannot be stored in the adipose tissue spread to their surroundings, and when they come in contact with cytokines, that is when the inflammation springs. By targeting the inflammation, which is the root cause of obesity, the treatment for obesity is made possible. There have been several clinical studies that have highlighted the significance of inflammation regarding obesity, but few therapeutic approaches have been suggested. Through his research, Kim and his students have proposed a therapeutic strategy of targeted gene delivery that could safely treat the disease without any side effects. This strategy is also favorable in treating type 2 diabetes, which primarily occurs as a result of obesity. It is preventable by staying at a normal weight through regular exercise or dietary changes. This could also be the way to prevent obesity as well, which, in other words, means that the cause of the two diseases have the same outset, which is the inflammation within the tissues due to being overweight. Therefore, Kim’s proposal of therapeutic approach for obesity can also treat type 2 diabetes. Targeted gene delivery strategy could kill two birds with one stone. Building on his current studies, Kim’s future research aims to create more formulas for drugs that could treat obesity. “Liposuction is an extremely dangerous surgery because it sucks the good fats as well. Obesity is surely preventable or even cured for those who are not severely obese. However, those who are super-obese, their genes could transform into obese genes and this can affect their children. So, the targeted gene delivery approach can optimally be used in the future.” Kim specifically chose the topic of inflammation of obesity because he wanted to find a narrow gate and open it wide. Since not many solutions for obesity inflammation have been discovered, he wanted to delve into the studies of this topic and create a cure for the countless people waiting for treatment. Kim always aspires to study and research on topics that is subject to a breakthrough outcome. "I am interested in finding cures for diseases that do not have many treatments." Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Kabg Cho-hyun

2017-10 29

[Academics][Researcher of the Month] The Faster, Simpler, Easier, the Better!

Today, we live in the world where everything is becoming mechanized, meaning the field of electronics and mechanics are infinitely evolving. Conspicuous or not, there are small and big changes around us that make our lives more convenient and more efficient in various ways. Professor Hong Jung-pyo (Department of Automotive Engineering), in his paper, “Simple size determination of permanent-magnet synchronous machines” has established a milestone in the field of both electronics and mechanics, by proposing a means of simplifying the process of designing and developing machines. Hong’s research can determine the direction of the process of motor’s development. When designing and producing an instrument, engineers go through trials of experiments, trying to pick the best formula by observing the results of each experiment. Such a process demands laborious amounts of time and cost, which under certain circumstances can be unaffordable. A perfect, well-constructed device or motor has been made through stages of trial-and-error so far, being tested on their performance in each stage. However, with Hong’s proposal of simulation experiment, this entire step could be greatly reduced, simply by executing the experiment with the simulator. When working on a motor, it is important to harmoniously combine the techniques of both the electrician and the engineer. However, what is more important is, the two fields should not be seen separately. The two perspectives commingled as one will bring the best result, whereas if they are regarded separately, failures can arise, and it would be difficult to figure out where the problem originated from. The simulator Hong proposed in his paper acts not only as a catalyst in making the process of developing machines faster, simpler, and easier by exempting the trial-and-error step but also allows to preview an outcome of integrated viewpoint. “For a better understanding, imagine this picture. There is a device I’m trying to make, and I want to equip this circle-shaped part. After doing so, I still think I can improve the final product somehow, so I will try dismantling the part I just added and equip this oval-shaped part. When doing so, I have to carefully remove the circle-shaped part and re-equip the oval-shaped one and then compare the two results to see what the best combination is.” This process of trial-and-error and comparison, which is time-consuming, is what Hong wanted to resolve with his research. With the simulator, engineers can simply enter the input and compare the different outcomes and go for what is the best much more conveniently. Everything that moves, including cars, elevators, and airplanes, are all powered by electric motors. In the future, the range of usages will increase infinitely which means there will be experiments after experiments for the development of motor-based objects. In each case, Hong’s research can greatly reduce the development process and offer the direction of choices for better outcomes. His future research goal is to create a unified solution of electronics and mechanics, which will boost the usability of the machine itself. Hong’s research will be a constructive contribution to engineers. Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Park Young-min, Kim Youn-soo

2017-09 25

[Academics]A Tactile Sensor for Texture Recognition

With computers today, auditory and visual senses can be materialized—through sound and screens. The other three of the five senses, on the other hand, have not yet been on the platform of materialization because they require a somewhat more delicate mechanism and are harder to deliver with technology. Professor Park Wan-jun (Department of Electronic Engineering), in his paper, “A tactile sensor using single layer graphene for surface texture recognition”, presented and elaborated on a tactile sensor that could distinguish different materials, which opens many doors for future technology. It is hard to imagine the sense of touch being delivered with a machine because it is usually perceived as something only humans are capable of. But why can sound and sight be materialized by computers but not touch? The answer is, electronic signals for sound and vision are made possible in the aspect of engineering, while that of touch is not. What Park presented in his paper is a small chip-like device that enables perception of touch for surface texture recognition. The output of Park's research, which is a chip-like electronic device. (Photo courtesy of Park) The first thing he had to do, according to Park, was to turn the sense into electronic signals. Only then can the machine read what is being conveyed. Once the signal of touch is conveyed to the device, it will analyze the signal and distinguish what kind of texture it is. The subtle and clear differences in terms of texture between various kinds of surfaces can be perceived and distinguished by the tactile sensor, detecting the microscopic scale of differences. There is a single layer of graphene embedded in the device, which creates a different resistance variation each time a surface comes to interaction. It is what functions as the main player in telling apart different surfaces because it is what creates the different signals. The signal is then sent to the computer by the chip, which is to be analyzed and categorized into different kinds of textures. “Just as there is virtual reality (VR) for sight, a touch-version will be possible with this device,” anticipated Park. “A tactile display is also possible with this device, as the signal for touch is now readable by the computer. If you put your hand on the tactile display device, you can actually feel whatever the object or texture input in the computer is,” envisaged Park. This technology is also applicable in the medical field. Those who lost their sense of touch in certain parts of their body by burns, for example, will be able to regain their sense by implanting this small device in the portion of injury. Now that the signals of touch can be read by the device and since senses can be transmitted in the form of signals, delivery of the sense of touch is made possible. The inserted chip will send signals to the brain and this will enable the patient to feel what is being touched. “In recap, this research of mine has provided a human-sensorlike device that will enable transmission of the sense of touch in terms of engineering. Now I’m currently working on machine learning by categorizing and classifying different textures into groups and making the device absorb the data. The ultimate goal of my research is to complete materializing the sense of touch from the perspective of engineering so that further technologies could be developed based on my research,” planned Park. Park's further research is set on mechanizing the sense touch. Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Choi Min-ju

2017-08 15

[Academics]Upgrading Transcriptome Map

Incredible amount of transcriptomes encoded by eukaryotic genomes has been produced as RNA-sequencing reads are published in piles. The transcriptome is the sum of all RNA information contained in a body’s cells, which is an indispensable data when creating the transcriptome map of the body. The current map, however, is not its apotheosis since it was constructed based on RNA-seq reads that lack their orientations and certain boundary information. In his paper “High-confidence coding and noncoding transcriptome,” Professor Nam Jin-wu of Department of Life Science has presented the transcriptome map with RNA-seq reads with high accuracy and efficiency. “What makes this research valuable is its contribution to the scientific community. It will function as an indispensable infrastructure.” RNA and the map In the past 10 years, with the technology of next generation sequencing (NGO), data of individual’s genome and transcriptome has been developing at a rapid pace. Genetic information of both healthy and diseased individuals aggregates to approximately 10 peta bytes from all over the world, from which Nam focused specifically on analyzing the transcriptome, disregarding the genome for the moment. A critical difference between the two is that genome has orientation while transcriptome lacks it. This indicates that it would be extremely difficult and inconvenient to arrange the little pieces of information to form the whole genetic map of transcriptome. “What it means by ‘lack of orientation’ is, simply picture this situation: putting batteries in a remote control which has no plus or minus indicators. You would have to find the right direction by just trying. It is also like jigsaw puzzles where you have to search thoroughly the scattered pieces and find and put the right ones together until you get the whole picture,” explained Nam. Constructing a genetic map with orderless pieces of information could be an arduous task, since the massive bio-big data offers a tremendous amount of genetic information and they lack orientation. What Nam has created through his research is an algorithm that predetermines the orientation and boundaries of transcripts and genetic information. This will not only lessen the work of constructing the transcriptome map by assembling RNA-seq reads that lack orientation but also increase the accuracy and quality of the resulting maps. The outcome of his research, in a word, orients the directionless RNA-seq reads and locate them where they belong. Now with the more accurate and systematic transcriptome map, the amount and structure of RNA in a cell in the body could be figured. Nam first started this research three years ago, spending the first two years constructing the algorithm and spending the last year producing data using NGS. He is currently researching on the noncoding RNA (RNA that does not produce protein), which is highly related with various types of cancer and other rare diseases. The ultimate goal of Nam’s studies is to solve the mystery of unexplored RNA. 98% of RNA in human body belongs to the noncoding category, so how exactly do they affect the way a human being is and how do they account for different anomalies? “A good question begets a good study.” Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Choi Min-ju

2017-07 18

[Academics]Developing and Improving MRI Contrast Agent

Contrast agents are the substances injected inside or outside of the digestive tract or blood vessels in order to show tissue or blood vessels more clearly during radio graphic examinations such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) imaging. Its role is crucial as it improves the diagnostic value by artificially increasing the X-ray absorption of each tissue, which makes it more easy to distinguish the biomechanical structure or the lesion from the surroundings. Professor Lee Dong-yun (Department of Biotechnology), through his paper “MRI-sensitive contrast agent with anticoagulant activity for surface camouflage of transplanted pancreatic islets,” has presented an inventive contrast agent that kills two birds with one stone. “When I was conducting this research regarding treatment of diabetes, my biggest concern was whether the outcome would be useful in the medical field or not. Even if the research is flawless, it is of no use if it cannot be put into real uses.” A contrast agent could evoke two main issues: the issue of MRI detection and of blood coagulation. Lee’s research, however, has overcome the two problems. In hopes of creating medical technologies that are valuable and pragmatic, specifically concerning contrast agents in this research, Lee has gone through detailed research and experiments. “The cell therapy products can be said to be ‘coated’ with contrast agents.” The contrast agent Lee has formulated approaches the body in a different manner. Instead of directly injecting the contrast agent into the patient’s body, Lee attached them on the cell therapy products through chemical reaction and then instill the contrast-agent-dissolved cell therapy products into the body. This not only makes detection of cells through MRI or CT imaging possible but also enables controlling of blood coagulation and prevent fibering clot. In Lee’s research, which specifically deals with patients of diabetes, a technology to transplant insulin-secreting cell has been devised for the sufferer. As shown in the diagram, islets (clusters of cells) are implanted into the blood vessels of the liver through catheter, which leads to the problem of accumulation of blood platelets on the surface of the newly implanted cells. This would eventually result in blood coagulation, creating thick fibering clots, further resulting in destruction of the cells. This means the cell therapy products lose their original function and go into nullity. However, with Lee’s research, as the contrast agents are acting as a layer to prevent accumulation of blood platelets and prevent blood coagulation and allow MRI detection at the same time, the use of the newly developed contrast agent is expected to be put in various uses. ' Lee's contrast agents allow MRI detection and prevent blood coagulation. (Photo courtesy of Lee) Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Choi Min-ju

2017-04 26

[Academics]Interrogating History

History, by definition, chronicles and recounts past events of people, countries, and the world at large. It may answer the wh-questions concerning a particular event, reporting from time and place of an event to who and what were involved. However, it does not always perform an excellent job in informing us why an event occurred. Professor Carl Joergen Saxer (Division of International Studies), whose primary interest lies in political science, wanted to shed light on the unexplored domain of history, the big question of why. Saxer unfolded his curiosity about why the Nordic countries participated in the Korean War. The Big Question, Why History books state that in the 1950s, just five years after the World War 2, the Nordic countries—Denmark, Norway, and Sweden—had participated in the Korean War in the form of medical aid. Denmark and Norway had been occupied by Nazi Germany and Sweden remained neutral. Additionally, until recently, those countries had very limited knowledge about Korea, had no diplomatic relations and was located on the other side of the globe. Yet, they decided to participate in the war by supporting the country with medical supplies. At this point, a question should arise: what led the three countries to participate in a war that went on in a remote, unrecognized land that most Nordic people had never heard about? Delving into the state archives of the Nordic countries, Saxer disclosed the answer to the question. He accessed to documentations related to decision making process and examined the thought process of what led governments in the first place to participate and what led them to the decision of how to participate. As it turned out, for diplomatic reasons, the Nordic government have always emphasized on humanitarian intervention, out of moral concerns. This means their participation in the Korean War should be on account of the North Korean invasion in South Korea. However, the documents showed otherwise: it was much more of a political matter. "The national archives allowed me to access to documents that showed the decision-making process" The emphasis on the Nordic countries when it came to participating in the war was actually to do as little as possible, signifying an outside factor that urged its decision: the America. Norway and Denmark had just become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and were under American pressure to defend Korea under the United Nations flag—perchance this was the reason they only joined the war by supporting the medical supplies and not combat materials. In other words, the concerns of politicians when they came to participate in the war was not so much about what was going on in the Korean peninsula but rather about the potential of the war to result in another big issue: World War 3. It was very much influenced by the Cold War in European countries that the fear arose in relation to the possible outbreak of another global disaster. Coming down to a summary, moral element intermingled with their international stance in a context of fear of potential World War 3 and insecurity of the Cold War led the Nordic countries to participate in the Korean War in the least aggressive manner. “I usually don’t research much on history as my interest is more on democracy in politics. But with this research, I was very interested in looking into the documents. I do empirical research, meaning I don’t speculate about how things should or would be in the future but rather how things were or have been. I was very interested in finding out why people act the way they do and how certain decisions are reached,” explained Saxer on his motivation of this research. "I intend to write a book on the linkage between foreign policy making and domestic politics in middle powers." Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Choi Min-ju

2017-03 06 Important News

[Academics]Spin-Orbit Interaction and Holographic Theory

Physics is an indispensable domain to invest in as it generates fundamental knowledge for technological infrastructure and future advancements. Accentuating the importance of the field, Professor Sin Sang-jin (Department of Physics) puts strenuous effort into enlightening unresolved physical phenomena. In his paper "Character Of Matter in Holography: Spin-orbit Interaction," Sin elaborated the relationship between holographic theory and spin-orbit interaction using graphite to decode the enigma. String theory and spin-orbit interaction Physical phenomena relating to the notion of gravity can be explained through Einstein’s general theory of relativity at a macroscopic level. However, narrowing down the matter and studying at a microscopic level, the so-called quantum gravity theory must enter the picture. Among other quantum gravity theories, the prime candidate that is attracting much interest is string theory, which states that the smallest particle of matter is not a point molecule but a vibrating string, which cannot be decomposed further. String theory focuses on holographic duality (also known as gauge/gravity duality) as a novel method of approaching and connecting a range of subjects, including quantum gravity. The movement and interaction between the electronic system are not holistically mastered by physicists, rendering the strongly correlated electronic system cryptic. By employing the holographic theory, which states that the description volume of space could be encoded on a lower-dimensional boundary to the region, can explain not only electron-to-electron interaction but also lattice-electron interaction. Of the interactions of electrons, spin-orbit interaction is what Sin sheds light on. Sin describes the complexity of the relationships between several theories. Spin-orbit interaction is a type of particle interation which causes shifts in an electron’s energy level caused by the electromagnetic interaction between the electron’s spin and the magnetic field. This field is generated by the electron’s orbit around the nucleus. The big question here was to figure out how to fit this interaction into the holographic theory, which connects to another phenomenon called anomalous hall effect. This effect is the traversing of electric current in the magnetic field perpendicular to the current, with no electromagnetic force applied. What is peculiar is the aberration; perpendicular traversing would happen only when electromagnetic force is applied. To find the answer to this puzzle, Sin applied the magnetization curve of graphite to the spin-orbit interaction, which fitted suitably. This was because the magnetization curve of graphite was well-depicted by the strong interaction between electrons. Uncountable layers of graphene make up graphite, corresponding to the strongly interacting temperature and density. The ultimate goal of Sin’s research is to construct a solid theory of physics for novel materials. In the process, string theory and holographic theory are incorporated to the core concept. “This particular research paper at hand merely managed to link the notion with spin-orbit interaction, which could be compared to just one tree out of an entire forest. I aim to theorize the strongly-correlated electronic system,” noted Sin. “Many say there aren't any phenomena which can’t be explained with theories formed 100 years ago. This isn't true in my view. Physicists today still cannot explain matters with the strongly correlated electronic system. There is no end to physics and its exploration,” added Sin. Sin asserts that physics is the base of all phenomena. Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Choi Min-ju

2017-02 28 Important News

[Academics][Researcher of the Month] Blue Ocean of Materials Science

Conspicuous or not, our surroundings play a crucial role in navigating our health, holding accountability for small and big degenerations for mankind’s physical wellbeing. Among all, two indispensable elements in our life, air and water, have slow and accumulative effect on the health of the population. Professor Kim Ki-hyun (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), whose studies focus on environmental pollution, delineated the means of applying advanced materials in his review paper “Carbon nanotubes: a novel material for multifaceted applications in human healthcare.” Carbon nanotubes in biotechnology As modern material technology has been advancing considerably, its application seems ever-expanding in diverse fields, with nanomaterials as the convenient and indispensable companion. Based on a research paper conducted by other scholars, Kim wrote another, centralizing on the uses of carbon nanotubes (CNT), an emerging nanomaterial that is seeing the light in the biomedical and environmental fields. Its application is versatile: drug delivery, sensing, water purification, composite materials, and bone scaffolds. More specifically, CNTs could be used to alleviate myocardial infarction by enlarging clogged blood vessels, expediting drug delivery, and organizing bone structures in needed parts. Kim outlines his review paper on the application of carbon nanotubes in the biomedical field. Despite all the medical benefits, advanced materials including CNT also have the potential to bring adverse effects. As alien substances could disturb immune or antibody responses, the body functions to react against them. Especially, in case of new materials, unprecedented resistance could occur, and thus their potential impacts must be taken into consideration through attentive examination for possible toxicity. Nonetheless, as long as the criteria are met, CNT and other materials could spark revolutionary breakthroughs that would change the future of mankind. “I think that endless developments are yet to come in the field of materials science to help other research fields like environment and human health flourish. Better materials in terms of cost efficiency and functional effectiveness would be improved while there is yet no limits to such developments. Materials science and nanomaterials would not only be fruitful in biomedical fields but also environmentally,” commented Kim. His interest in new materials are extended toward environmental progress, starting with the sensing of pollutants and purifying polluted medium. The blue ocean Materials science could often be referred to as the 'blue ocean' since there are more to be discovered than what has been excavated so far. On top of this, collaboration with environmental issues is not conventional. Kim is involved in research for integrated environmental monitoring technology, digitizing and managing air, water, and soil pollution. He is looking forward to fuse newly unveiled materials in his research, hoping to bring a constructive result to lay a bridge between materials science and environmental engineering. To set an example, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) could be used to mitigate environment pollution: volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the air spawns odor while propagating carcinogens if transferred into the human body through the respiratory system. As the material for sensing or removing such hazardous pollutants, MOFs are regarded as one of the highly promising solutions. What is to be underscored here is the infinite possibility of combination of the materials, which are not only capable of being used alone but also of being employed in cooperation with other materials. Kim's research will continue to be centered around mitigating environmental pollution with newly excavated materials. Jeon Chae-yun Photos by Choi Min-ju