[Current Issues] Ministry of Science and Technology Protects the Blue Sky
Jinyoung Kim, Director of the Climate and Environmental Research Institute, Conducts the Only Government-funded Global Environmental Change Response Research "Research will help create a safe society" diversifying factors of global environmental changes September 7th is the "International Day of Clean Air for blue skies." It is a Korean national memorial day and the first UN-celebrated international day led by Korea. The "International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies," first proposed at the UN Climate Summit 2019 held in New York, was designated to increase public awareness of the atmospheric environment and climate change and encourage global participation in air pollution reduction activities. Various events are organized to promote actions towards achieving clean air. A clean global environment is one of the primary challenges addressed by the scientific and technological community. Numerous studies are being conducted worldwide to reduce particulate matter and greenhouse gases and to respond to climate change. The Climate and Environmental Research Institute of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) is also conducting research to promote preemptive response to disasters and damages predicted to result from future climate and environmental changes. On the occasion of the "International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies," we interviewed Jinyoung Kim, the director of the Climate and Environmental Research Institute. She stated, "Extreme weather events, such as heat waves, floods, and hurricanes, are occurring more frequently than in the past, and wide research should be conducted by the science and technology community in a large and broad scope of the climatic environment. We have expertise in not only research for securing clean air and water resources but also R&D planning and policy making. As the only government-funded research institute that conducts R&D specialized for climate and environment from a perspective other than energy, we will implement a safe and sustainable society through research that minimizes disasters and damages caused by climate change." Q. Please introduce the Climate and Environmental Research Institute. A. The Climate and Environmental Research Institute was launched in July 2021 to address the need for research on climatic and environmental changes. It was founded based on the existing environmental research team, and now consists of ▲ the Center for Water Cycle Research, ▲ the Center for Sustainable Environment Research, and ▲ the Clean Air Center. Q. What are the roles of each research center? A. The Center for Water Cycle Research was established in 1970 as an urban planning laboratory and is a research team within KIST that has accumulated significant R&D expertise over a long time. The center's research began from the perspective of clean water and water treatment and has since evolved into research on droughts, floods, and securing water resources. Studies of both quantitative and qualitative approaches are underway to provide solutions by approaching issues concerning the environment as a whole, including water and resources, from responding to novel pollutants such as microplastics to addressing water shortages due to drought. The Center for Sustainable Environment Research takes on the national challenge of realizing a safe living environment. The center began an artificial precipitation project to respond to climate change as a representative task of the Climate and Environmental Research Institute. Its scope of research is expanding to climatology, and experts on extreme climate, carbon cycle, and climate modeling using AI are collaborating to propose solutions to climatic and environmental problems. The Clean Air Center serves as a research and R&D policy control tower for identifying the causes of air pollution[A1] , such as particulate matter, and solving such problems. It is the only organization within KIST where research and policy teams coexist. Another peculiarity is that the center collaborates with other research institutes and universities to conduct its research projects. Q. Are you stating that KIST shares its government contributions with outside organizations? That could not have been an easy decision. A. Addressing particulate matter is a challenging task for a single institution. KIST executives designed the institution's projects using its contributions and allocated approximately half of the research funds to external organizations to enable the response to fine dust in collaboration with other research agencies. We are conducting basic and original research in four fields: atmospheric science, emission reduction, exposure reduction, and health risk. The international cooperation is also vital in addressing particulate matter, hence, we cooperate with China and Japan in atmospheric measurement. In the domain of exposure reduction, several government-funded agencies are collaborating to conduct research to monitor and identify the effects of particulate matter on various human organs, including the brain. Q. When hearing "International Day of Clean Air for blue skies," the first thing that comes to mind is a sky without particulate matter. What are some of the institution's achievements related to particulate matter? A. KIST has announced various achievements, from identifying the causes of fine dust to its effects on humans. Through the analysis of the brain exposed to particulate matter, we found decreased motor skills and increased anxiety and encephalitic reactions. We also identified the process by which particulate matter from China interacts with substances emitted in Korea, leading to a further increase in the concentration of fine particulate matter in Korea. We have also accomplished several achievements in terms of reducing particulate matter. Because nitrogen oxide from ship and automobile engines is known to produce secondary particulate matter, we have developed an eco-friendly catalyst that captures nitrogen oxide at low temperatures and transferred the technology to Doosan Engine. Q. Does the direction of the research on fine dust change over time? A. Research from various perspectives has become necessary with the recent increase in the importance of net-zero emissions and carbon neutrality. For instance, while it is expected that electric vehicles do not generate particulate matter, they create relatively more non-exhaust particulate emissions owing to wear and tear of brakes and tires because they are heavier from the weight of the battery. Moreover, because ammonia, which is considered the clean energy of the future, is a precursor that produces particulate matter, we must be prepared for unburned ammonia or leakage, and it is necessary to contemplate reducing nitrogen oxides that occur during the combustion process and prepare related policies. This is also the reason why the Ministry of Science and ICT recently began researching on particulate matter reduction in response to the Net Zero Era. I believe more active research should be conducted to respond to these problems preemptively. Q. What achievements has the Climate and Environmental Research Institute made besides those related to fine dust that KIST has worked on for a long time? A. There were a few notable achievements at the top level in the first year of the foundation of the Climate and Environmental Research Institute. However, two of our members have already received KIST's "Person of the Month" award this year. Dr. Jihye Byun, the recipient of KIST's "Person of the Month" award in March, developed a technology for the eco-friendly production of hydrogen peroxide, one of the industry's top 100 substances, using solar energy. Drs. Jaewoo Choi and Kyungwon Jung, the award recipients in August, developed a technology that dramatically increases the recovery rate of precious metals from waste and transferred the technology. Additionally, we are deriving various strides in achieving excellence, such as preparing for water shortage problems using water heat and solar energy and conducting studies on microplastics. I expect that more innovative responses to climate change will be achieved in the future through more active cooperation between researchers. Q. One of the goals of the Climate and Environmental Research Institute is to build a cloud chamber. Could you explain what a cloud chamber is? A. Cloud chambers are being built to cope with future climate change and global environmental changes. KIST's cloud chamber is the only one with dual methods of generating clouds - expansion or convection - depending on the purpose; utilizing it enables a range of scientific studies, such as investigations into artificial precipitation or the correlation between precipitation and particulate matter. In particular, condensation nuclei, the seeds that create clouds, are necessary for artificial precipitation. We are collaborating with Advanced Materials Research Division researchers[A2] to develop these condensation nuclei. KIST is the only institution in the world conducting technology development that covers the entire process of developing cloud-seed materials and verifying their effectiveness using cloud chambers. This is possible because various researchers, such as those specializing in materials and computational science, are gathered at KIST, and it is expected that they will achieve broader synergy with researchers studying the climate and environment in the future. The chamber design is currently in the process, and the equipment necessary for cloud measurement is being acquired. When the chamber is completed, the cloud generation process can be simulated using the chamber and condensation nuclei developed by the material team. This simulation, paired with outdoor drone experiments, is expected to produce practical and outstanding results. Q. What kind of organization would you like the Climate and Environmental Research Institute to be in the future? A. As the organization is new, our workforce is still smaller than other research institutes and headquarters. There are resulting difficulties, but there also are numerous opportunities to showcase each individual's abilities, and many researchers are willing to achieve something. I expect that the accumulation of these efforts will allow us to accomplish our goals step by step in the next few years. It has only been approximately two years since the foundation of the Climate and Environmental Research Institute, but we bear a heavy responsibility for climate change and the safety of our lives. We will do our best to become an organization that tackles various issues, including extreme weather events, and contribute to creating a better global environment.
- WriterCommunications Team
[GRaND-KIST] From commercialization to future studies...
Dr. Minah Lee announces a series of achievements after returning from maternity leave from efficient charge and discharge of the magnesium battery to a new thermal runaway-suppressing electrolyte Expected to be commercialized as early as within 3 to 5 years; research aimed at contributing to building a sustainable society KIST is the only government-contributed research institute that studies and develops rechargeable batteries using magnesium. Although rechargeable magnesium batteries have significant advantages such as low cost and high capacity, they are referred to as the "next, next-generation" battery owing to numerous commercialization challenges. Currently, a scientist is knuckling down on rechargeable magnesium batteries, a challenging task in the research field. Dr. Minah Lee of the KIST's Energy Storage Research Center is active in various fields, from future studies to commercialization research. Dr. Lee, studies and develops functional organic materials for next-generation batteries and has drawn attention for her bountiful research, having won the 2019 Wiley Young Researcher Award from Wiley Publications in the U.S., a global publisher specializing in academic texts. She is recognized for announcing findings on next-generation battery research consecutively in May and July after returning from maternity leave this year. The world she dreams of through her research on next-generation batteries is a sustainable one. We paid a visit to her office in August to hear in-depth stories about her research. The already commercialized field of rechargeable batteries is more enticing The reason why the scientific and technological community is interested in rechargeable batteries that have already been commercialized is also related to the demand for materials. Dr. Lee explained, "The demand for lithium-ion batteries is increasing with the recent growth of electric vehicles and energy storage systems, but there are concerns over supply and demand because the key raw materials, or core minerals, such as lithium and cobalt, are only found in certain regions, such as South Africa, Australia, and Africa. However, magnesium is abundantly stored on the earth's crust and can store two electrons, unlike lithium and sodium, which can only store a single electron per ion, hence, a high energy density is expected." Nevertheless, there also are obstacles. Efficient charging and discharging of magnesium metal is challenging owing to its reactivity with the existing electrolytes. Dr. Lee explained that magnesium metal, a cathode, is easily damaged in general electrolytes, making the efficient induction of charge and discharge reactions complex. To address this issue, highly corrosive electrolytes containing excessive halogen elements have been used. The subsequent disadvantage has been the limited utilization of anodic battery parts. High corrosivity limits the rechargeable voltage and prevents the development of high-energy batteries. Accordingly, Dr. Lee's team formed an artificial protective film on the surface of magnesium through a simple process of immersing magnesium metal to be used as a cathode in a reactive alkyl halide solution before battery assembly. This process simultaneously created a nanostructure with a large reaction area, eliminating corrosivity and enabling efficient charging and discharging of magnesium, even in general electrolytes that can be mass-produced. Dr. Lee stated, "The magnesium metal activated by the developed technology showed an overvoltage of less than 0.2 V from the initial cycle with an efficiency of over 99.5%, suggesting that the potential for commercializing high-energy-density rechargeable batteries is increased." There also were difficulties leading up to the publication of the study. The reaction between magnesium and reactive alkyl halide solution is one of the most critical reactions in the field of organic chemistry, known as the Grignard reaction. However, the existing academia has focused on producing soluble complex compounds, with little research on solid-state products, such as the artificial film presented in the recent study, leading to difficulties in developing proof. Dr. Lee said, "Since this is a new material that has not been reported before, it was complicated to analyze the composition and thickness of the developed protective film and to present the reaction mechanism. Fortunately, it was possible to obtain satisfactory results by proving it using the KIST beamline in the Pohang Accelerator." Rechargeable magnesium batteries have a long way to go as it is the next generation battery. Related to this study, Dr. Lee added, "Now that we have a cathode and an electrolyte that can be used for rechargeable magnesium batteries, the next step is to develop a suitable anode and to design a fuel cell with a high energy density and long life." Suppression of fires and thermal runaway, development of a new electrolyte · · · Commercialization expected within 3 to 5 years "We conducted safety tests on the batteries by piercing them with nails and detonating them. The battery to which our newly developed high flash point electrolyte was applied remained stable under the identical conditions of the nail penetration test without exploding. I remember watching the video repeatedly with the students who participated in the experiment." Dr. Lee has also made an achievement close to commercialization with rechargeable magnesium battery research. This is by the development of a new high flash point organic carbonate electrolyte that can suppress thermal runaway and fires caused by lithium-ion batteries announced in July. This study was conducted by Dr. Jayeon Baek of the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology and Professor Donghwa Seo of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. According to Dr. Lee, an electrolyte is a passageway for lithium ions that determines multiple factors, including the safety, life, output, and reversible capacity of a battery. While organic carbonate electrolytes have been commercialized after extensive research and development, the linear organic carbonate that constitutes these electrolytes can be easily ignited even at room temperature and is considered the cause of battery combustion. The research team developed a new electrolyte that does not ignite even when exposed to an ignition source at room temperature by controlling the molecular structure of the linear organic carbonate. The electrolyte's combustible gas production and self-heating decreased by 37% and 62%, respectively, even at high temperatures of 230° or higher with a charged anode. As a result, no fire or thermal runaway occurred when the new electrolyte was used in the penetration test of an actual 4Ah lithium-ion battery. Dr. Lee explained, "From the beginning of research development, we considered a combination of conditions essential for commercialization, such as economic feasibility, environmental feasibility, mass-producibility, and compatibility with existing electrodes and components. This technology can be immediately applied to the existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing infrastructure. We are evaluating the possibility of commercializing highly safe lithium-ion batteries through collaboration with cell manufacturing companies." However, she added, "This study confirmed that there was no combustion at 128° or lower and that heat and gas generation was significantly suppressed when exposed to a high-temperature environment. It does not mean that we have eliminated the risk of combustion or explosion of rechargeable batteries from the source," emphasizing, "We hope that our study will help reduce the frequency of fires and delay fire propagation and thermal runaway to save time for extinguishing fires." Once a rising star in science who dreamt of eco-friendly energy, she now "contributes to building a sustainable society through research" The demand for rechargeable batteries for efficient storage and utilization of eco-friendly energy is expected to increase. As such, ensuring safety is all the more important. However, Dr. Lee argued that "Research and development alone cannot 100% guarantee safe batteries." She suggested that the development of measurement technology to determine the state of battery aging quickly and accurately should be carried out simultaneously. She also pointed out, “In the case of electric vehicles, the battery’s safety depends on the driver’s driving habits. There are several factors to consider, such as big and minor accidents, battery overcharging, and exposure to high temperatures. Medium and large rechargeable batteries have not long been on the market, and big data has just started accumulating. It is also crucial to provide consumers with standards to accurately determine the condition of batteries based on the data.” Dr. Lee’s interest also extends to waste batteries as she has begun studying batteries with an interest in eco-friendly energy. She stated, “As battery use increases, waste batteries are expected to pour out in the next 5 to 10 years, but waste battery recycling technology is still not cost-effective or energy efficient. Rechargeable batteries include valuable metals such as lithium and cobalt, which are not readily available in Korea; therefore, research for recovering these resources is necessary. My team is currently developing a direct regeneration technology that will enable us to reuse anodes without decomposing them. I would like to continue contributing to creating a sustainable society through various studies."
- WriterCommunications Team
A scientist’s Father Assist in Clinical Research ... New Indicator in Early Diagnosis of Dementia
New Discovery of Unknown Cause of Alzheimer's Disease, Presenting Potential Treatment Targets "The Science community should recognize the new discovery and attempt for incurable dementia” Dr. Nam is the only Korean medicine doctor (KMD) at KIST in neuroscience research. Instead of opening his own clinic and treating patients, he chose research. Coming across neuroscience researchers with a background in Korean medicine is rare. Currently, he researches on neurobiological mechanisms of acupuncture. Dr. Ryu is a leading scientist in the field of neurogenetics and postgenomics. He has garnered attention for his various research achievements, including uncovering new mechanisms for treating a neurodegenerative brain disorder called Huntington's disease. Recruited by KIST as an outstanding overseas researcher in 2019, exploring breakthroughs in the treatment of degenerative brain disorders has been his focus. Scientists with different study concentrations have collaborated for a shared goal of "conquering Alzheimer's disease (AD )." They have recently achieved remarkable progress in AD diagnostic research. The focus of their attention was little stars (star-shaped cells) in the brain called “astrocytes.” Dr. Ryu and Dr. Nam’s research team have identified the facilitator of AD based on astrocytes. Moreover, the scientists have captured images using imaging technology and presented the potential for early diagnosis of dementia and new therapeutic targets. In this study, Dr. Nam's father and acquaintances personally participated and assisted in clinical research. This study is also a testament to the collaborative efforts and dedication of numerous individuals, including the active involvement of patients with neurodegenerative disorders and collaborative partnerships with researchers from other institutions. What implications does the study have for the diagnosis and treatment of AD? I had the opportunity to meet with the two leading researchers to delve into the details. Dementia treatment: A 110-year-old unsolved mystery… Researchers focus on “astrocytes” AD is the most common degenerative brain disease that causes dementia. AD was first reported by German psychiatrist and physician Alois Alzheimer in 1907. Despite more than 110 years since its discovery, the precise mechanisms and causes of the disease remain unknown. The focus of Alzheimer's treatment is not on a cure but rather on early detection and slowing down the progression of the disease. Dr. Ryu and Director Lee Chang-joon of the IBS have been focusing on reactive astrocytes in the treatment of AD. Astrocytes, which are star-shaped cells, constitute the largest population of cells in our brains. While they have long been regarded as supportive cells for neurons, their significance began to receive significant attention in the 1990s. As it became known that astrocytes play diverse roles in neuronal functions, their association with dementia is also being investigated. Dr. Ryu explains, "Alzheimer's disease is accompanied by brain inflammation, and one of the earliest phenomena that occur is the transformation of astrocytes into reactive astrocytes, where their size and function change." Through extensive research, Dr. Ryu has provided evidence of their correlation. For instance, reactive astrocytes inhibit surrounding neurons through the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and the hydrogen peroxide generated during the production of GABA can lead to impaired memory through neuronal cell death. Despite the clinical importance of reactive astrocytes, a lack of brain imaging techniques to visualize and diagnose these cells currently exists; however, these two scientists have surpassed these limitations through their joint research. Their research has blossomed through continuous unintended academic encounters. Hopeful expectations for a new diagnostic marker for dementia using cancer diagnostic markers Dr. Ryu and Dr. Nam's research team has identified the factors that accelerate AD based on astrocytes. They have also utilized imaging technology to capture images of these astrocytes and proposed the potential for early diagnosis of dementia and identified new targets for dementia treatment “Dr. Yoon Mi-jin, a professor at Yonsei University, and Dr. Lee Chang-joon, the director of IBS, have been long-time colleagues, and we have engaged in scientific exchanges for a long time. We have shared our concerns and efforts to prevent and diagnose Alzheimer's disease, and it led us to a collaborative research initiative.” (Dr. Ryu) Dr. Ryu's team had high hopes that imaging reactive astrocytes could lead to early treatment for AD. Upon hearing regarding their research, nuclear medicine expert Professor Yoon Mi-jin decided to collaborate with Dr. Ryu's team and explore the use of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. PET imaging is widely used for diagnosing and treating conditions, such as tumors, brain disorders, and heart diseases. The research team combined the use of “carbon-11 acetate,” which has been actively used in cancer diagnostics, and “fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose” used to confirm brain activity, to capture PET images of the brain in AD animal models, actual patients, and a control group. The results revealed that reactive astrogliosis in patients with AD exhibited increased metabolism of acetate, a substance well-known as vinegar, and simultaneous suppression of glucose metabolism. Additionally, the research team was the first to identify that acetate facilitates reactive astrogliosis through PET imaging and multilateral analyses, leading to the production of putrescine and GABA, which causes dementia. They also confirmed that inhibiting reactive astrogliosis or suppressing the expression of monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1), a transporter specific to astrocytes, restores normal metabolism of acetic acid and glucose in surrounding neurons. PET images of the reactive astrocyte animal model showing increased uptake of 11C-acetate and a decreased uptake of 18F-FDG According to the research team, PET imaging amyloid beta, which has been known as the primary cause of dementia, has had limitations in diagnosing patients in clinical settings. In addition, all dementia treatments aimed at removing amyloid beta have also failed. Conversely, PET imaging using 11C-acetate and 18F-FDG has shown potential for diagnosing reactive astrocytes and functionally suppressed neurons at a clinical level. Dr. Nam explained, "In this study, we have confirmed that reactive astrocytes excessively uptake acetate compared to normal conditions. Excessive acetate uptake could serve as a diagnostic marker for Alzheimer's disease.” The research findings were published online in the prestigious neuroscience journal the Brain on April 17. New discoveries and attempts must be recognized to advance research on dementia, a nearly incurable disease. “It is widely known that not even one out of 100 patients with AD can be cured. This rate is significantly lower compared to the cure rate of around 80% for leukemia, which is considered an incurable disease. Conquering AD requires new discoveries and innovative approaches."(Dr. Ryu) According to Statistics Korea, the life expectancy as of 2021 is 83.6 years, which is 3 years longer than a decade ago. However, the mortality rate from Alzheimer's disease in 2021 stood at 15.6 deaths per 100,000 population, which is a 52-fold increase compared with 0.3 deaths in the year 2000. Dr. Ryu and Dr. Nam emphasized the need for the scientific community to embrace multidisciplinary research and be open to new discoveries to advance treatment for AD. In this context, the introduction of "11C-acetate" as a new biomarker for Alzheimer's imaging in their study was a significant challenge. Dr. Ryu mentioned, "It took a long time for the scientific community to accept 11C-acetate as a new biomarker for AD, as it had not been imaged for AD before." He further added, "I believe that for early diagnosis and treatment of the disease to become possible, the scientific community needs to break free from conventional notions and embrace new discoveries. I hope that Dr. Nam's efforts will establish new milestones in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's and contribute to further advancements in scientific research." Changes in monocarboxyl transporter-1 (MCT1) and glucose transporter-3 (GLUT3) in brain tissues of patients with AD The two researchers plan to continue their research to conquer AD. Dr. Nam commented, “Although we successfully imaged it through 11C-acetate, there is an inherent limitation that it has a short half-life. Additional research is needed to overcome this limitation.” He also mentioned plans to conduct various studies to visualize reactive astrocytes and neurons in patients with AD. The two researchers expressed their gratitude to the patients and the public who participated in the clinical trial. To ensure the clinical significance of study findings, securing statistically significant clinical data is important. Thus, they had to conduct numerous experiments with normal control and patient groups. Because clinical trials are generally conducted in a hospital, recruiting healthy controls is not easy. Therefore, Dr. Nam asked his father and his friend for brain PET imaging . Dr. Ryu added, "We were able to successfully proceed with our research thanks to outstanding fellow scientists (Professor Yoon and Dr. Lee), passionate post-doctorate researchers, graduate students, and many other participants. I want to again express my gratitude to all of them.”
- WriterCommunications Team
World Day for Laboratory Animals...At the KIST Research Animal Resources Center
KIST reaffirms the importance of respecting life through the annual memorial ceremony for laboratory animals. With active research on the utilization of organoids, KIST is striving to reduce sacrificing of laboratory animals. Many animals are sacrificed each year for cosmetic and pharmaceutical toxicity testing. According to a survey by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, the number of laboratory animals used in South Korea reached 4.88 million in 2021. This represents a significant increase of 17.8% compared with that of the previous year, indicating a growing trend in laboratory animal use. April 24 has been designated as World Day for Laboratory Animals by the British National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) to promote the reduction of animal sacrifice in research. In accordance with this, numerous research institutes hold memorial ceremonies in April to honor the spirits of animals sacrificed for scientific advancements. KIST researchers also observed the memorial ceremony at the KIST Research Animal Resources Center last April. Following the establishment of its animal experimentation facility in 2002, KIST has begun observing the memorial ceremony since 2004. Senior specialist Ji-Wan Woo from the Center commented, "Engaging in research can sometimes desensitize us to the animals being used in experiments. Through the memorial ceremony, we are provided with an opportunity to reflect on whether we are using appropriate animals for our research, using them in suitable numbers without misuse or overuse, and whether we possess the necessary skills to handle experimental animals. I hope that researchers will embrace a mindset that values life and respects laboratory animals.” Small but special KIST Research Animal Resources Center After the establishment of the Neuroscience Center in 2000, KIST acquired its own animal research facility. Initially, researchers used to raise mice within their respective labs for research purposes. However, as the number of laboratory animals grew, and regulations concerning animal welfare were implemented, it became apparent that dedicated animal facilities and appropriate environments were crucial. Therefore, KIST made the decision to establish a separate animal research facility to address these issues. Currently, KIST maintains a laboratory space of approximately 200-pyeong, or 662 m2, housing various laboratory animals, including normal wild-type mice, genetically modified mice, immunodeficient mice, as well as rabbits and guinea pigs. Among these, mice comprise approximately 95% of the total population, with approximately 15,000 individuals. Senior specialist Ji-Wan Woo explained, "Mice share approximately 80% of their genes with humans, and their short lifespan of 2 to 3 years makes them well suited for research purposes such as aging studies and drug efficacy testing.” The laboratory animal living spaces are systematically managed. Regular microbial monitoring is conducted for 29 types of pathogens. To prevent contamination, KIST has implemented a triple-filtered ventilation system, sterilizers, disinfectants, and individual recirculating cage systems. The first thing you see as you enter the laboratory is a large monitor. It provides a comprehensive view of the laboratory animals living in their cages through security cameras and allows observation of the facility's compliance with regulations regarding facilities, waterproofing, soundproofing, environment, temperature, and lighting. An automated 24-h notification system is also in place, alerting center personnel in case of any abnormalities. All items and food that come into contact with the animals are sterilized before being provided. The living spaces for the laboratory animals are systematically managed, with the lights turned off and a humidity level of 50% and a constant temperature of 22° maintained during the night. While the KIST Research Animal Resources Center may be smaller in size compared with Yonsei University (approximately 2,700-pyeong, or 8,937 m2) and the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology branch in Ochang (approximately 1,000-pyeong, or 3,310 m2), it stands out for its significant number of genetically modified mice (12,000 of 15,000 mice are genetically modified). Genetically modified mice are mice in which specific genes have been removed or modified, allowing for research on gene function and the relationship with diseases. According to Senior specialist Woo, the center supports a wide range of research, from genetic-, protein-, and cellular-level studies to diseases, such as brain tumors, cancer, and dementia, as well as fields, such as artificial organs, stem cells, and AI neural networks. Another key characteristic is that KIST preserves genetically modified mice that are not required for research purposes through methods, such as embryo and sperm cryopreservation. Currently, KIST maintains a collection of approximately 150 different strains. Reducing avoidable sacrifices…KIST launches research on the use of organoids With the increasing societal awareness and concern regarding laboratory animals, research that minimizes their use has gained much attention. For instance, the European Union (EU) has prohibited the import, distribution, and sale of cosmetics tested on animals since 2013. The United States prohibited the use of laboratory animals for chemical safety assessments since 2019, with a complete ban set to be implemented by 2035. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also announced that since last year, they will accept results from alternative approaches, such as organoids, for new drug development. The global trend is anticipated to shift toward reducing the number of animals used in experiments and minimizing their suffering. In keeping abreast with the shifting research landscape, KIST has begun conducting studies utilizing organoids, also known as mini-organs, since last year and plan to fully launch them this year. It plans to leverage its strengths as a comprehensive research institute and launch initiatives to collaborate with other research institutes. Senior specialist Woo explained, “KIST is actively working to develop an evaluation platform system for drug efficacy assessment using pre-existing organoids. This platform provides an ethical and cost-effective alternative to animal testing, while also offering scalability advantages. The organoid-based efficacy evaluation platform is expected to enable automation and other technological advancements. KIST is currently discussing potential collaborations with its in-house AI-Robotics Institute and Technology Support Center to further enhance this initiative.” In addition, the center is currently developing a standardized data-based evaluation platform for mood disorders. Specifically, it aims to construct a platform utilizing standardized data derived from animal behavior analysis using animal models of autism and depression. Senior specialist Woo commented, "We anticipate that this platform will expedite the evaluation of new effective substances, reduce human and material resources, and ultimately decrease the number of animals used in research." “Despite running 24/7, the work is rewarding" With a vast interest in genetic characteristics and function research, Senior specialist Woo first joined KIST in 2002 as a researcher at the Brain Science Institute. The animal laboratory at the Brain Science Institute's Neuroscience Research Division grew in size as it was transformed to the Research Animal Resources Center in 2015. While pursuing a doctoral degree at the Brain Science Institute at that time, he became affiliated with the Research Animal Resources Center and took on responsibilities related to the management and preservation of genetically modified mice, the operation of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for ethical use of laboratory animals and the maintenance of animal facilities and facility safety management. The staff dashes to the Center, working day or not, once the 24-h alarm system goes off. Senior specialist Woo, who is primarily responsible for facility management at the Center, dedicated three whole years to safeguard the center, even on weekends and nights, as the number of animals increased after the expansion and remodeling of the facility. Although they must be prepared to work even during the weekends, the researchers at the Center, including senior specialist Woo, derive a sense of fulfillment from their work encompassing research and the conscientious management of laboratory animals. He commented, "I am fully committed to ensuring the safe and secure management of laboratory animals and endeavoring to develop novel models that minimize any avoidable sacrifices.”
- WriterCommunications Team
Was it a quantum computer that fought aganist Thanos?
Was it a quantum computer that fought against Thanos? Quantum mechanics in a movie: Taking the challenge to apply quantum mechanics into practical applications... KIST opens the era of the 'quantum computer' Center for Quantum Information at KIST is transforming to an open research institute to strengthen industry–academic cooperation Conducting research on quantum computers utilizing diamonds; expanding research to include qubit error correction The future of quantum computers is difficult to predict, but “it will change our lives” 'Ant-Man 3 (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania)' was the first Marvel movie released this year. It was also released in Korea, where there is considerable Marvel fandom, and has attracted many moviegoers. Ant-Man's powers come from his suit, which allows him to grow and shrink his body size using Pym particles. However, the scientific concept of 'quantum mechanics' is hidden here. Atom, which is the basic constituent unit and the smallest unit of matter, is composed of a nucleus and electrons. The setting of the movie is that the size of an object can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the empty space between the nucleus and electrons. Apart from this concept, various quantum concepts, such as time travel and multiverse, are mixed in the movie. Then, is quantum mechanics realized, and does it exist only in imagination as an element of science fiction? Recently, scientists have been applying quantum technologies in the real world, and the most notable technology is quantum computers. “In the movie Endgame, there is a scene where Dr. Strange simultaneously simulates various possible scenarios to find a way to beat Thanos. Searching all the possibilities simultaneously rather than sequentially, would it not seem like quantum computers are commercialized? Quantum computers, explained by Jeonghyun Lee, Ph.D., of the Center for Quantum Information at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) resemble the abilities of Dr. Strange. Unlike digital computers that sequentially process and store information in bits with values of 0 and 1, quantum computers have a superposition state, which has a state of 0 and 1 at the same time. By utilizing the superposition state, it is possible to simultaneously calculate the number of possible cases, similar to Dr. Strange's ability. Quantum computers are expected to perform faster computations than supercomputers because they use the superposition state. Quantum computers are expected to solve problems in seconds that would otherwise take conventional computers thousands of years; so they are a future game changer. Moreover, quantum computing is a field that needs to be researched and developed independently because they are directly related to security threats, such as those that destroy conventional security systems. IBM, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft in the United States have been conducting research to achieve leadership in quantum computing. Korea has included quantum computers as one of the 12 national strategic technologies and is planning to invest 98.4 billion won from the budget this year. KIST, first among government-funded research institutes to undertake the challenge of quantum technology Accept the challenge to commercialize quantum technology utilizing diamonds, which have a long research history "KIST has a deep relationship with diamonds. KIST was the first to develop and commercialize synthetic industrial diamonds in Korea, so diamond is a familiar material. We plan to apply the advantages of diamonds to quantum technology." KIST was the first among government-funded research institutes in Korea to accept the challenge of researching and developing quantum technology. KIST has been conducting research that encompasses quantum materials and systems by utilizing artificial diamonds. KIST has garnered attention for its research achievements, such as technology transfer for quantum encryption communication systems, the world's second portable quantum computer that operates at room temperature, and a quantum sensor that surpasses the limitations of sensor measurements. The word qubit appears frequently when describing quantum computers. Quantum computers process and store qubit units, which have the state of 0 and 1 simultaneously. If the qubit unit of a quantum computer exceeds 50, the quantum computer is considered to exceed the capabilities of supercomputers. The method of designing qubits is broadly divided into superconducting loops, ion traps, photons, silicon quantum dots, neutral atoms, and solid point defects. KIST is researching and developing quantum computers using diamond point defects. Using diamonds is advantageous as they can be operated at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, unlike other methods requiring high temperature and high pressure. Atoms can be made to operate like a single qubit by injecting impurities instead of carbon into the diamond lattice, which is made up of a carbon lattice. Moreover, KIST, Fujitsu Limited (Japan) and Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) are researching and developing diamond defect systems. However, unlike ion traps or superconductors, it is difficult to control the position of diamonds. Hence, it is not easy to increase the number of qubits. "There are physical limitations, but it is not completely impossible theoretically. We are working with device development researchers and materials researchers to develop a system that enables diamonds to expand, " Lee, Ph.D., explained. Accuracy is more important than the number of qubits! We will ensure error rate correction. Previously, studies on quantum computers that focused on increasing the number of qubits received considerable attention. However, attaining a large number of qubits does not necessarily translate to high computing power. Computations can be performed accurately only when the error rate of a single qubit is [A10] reduced. This means 50 qubits with fewer errors can have much higher computing power than 1000 qubits[A11] . KIST plans to start conducting research on quantum error correction in a full-fledged manner this year. "The United Kingdom and Australia have set a goal to attain 100 qubits, whereas IBM has set 1000 qubits as its target. However, companies like Amazon and Google have indicated that they are focused on error correction," said Lee, Ph.D. He also explained that "the factor that determines the performance of a quantum computer is diverse. So our research center plans to focus on quantum error correction." He added, "we plan to push ahead with business cooperation with Xanadu, a Canadian company with which we recently signed an MOU." KIST is paying attention to semiconductor processing, i.e., nano processing technology, to solve quantum errors. Professor Kim Jungsang of Duke University, who co-founded IonQ, Inc. and is a world-renowned scholar in the field of quantum computers, also emphasized semiconductors for quantum computing research and development in Korea at a recently held domestic academic conference. According to Lee, Ph.D., semiconductor processing utilizes technology to manufacture desired materials in nanometer-level shapes. In the case of quantum computers, semiconductor nano-processing technology can be applied because it controls small units known as qubits and creates qubits in desired locations. "To perform 'ion implantation,' which injects impurities inside a diamond, in the exact location, it is important to drill a small hole in the desired location. A similar process is used in semiconductors, so it will be possible to utilize it, explained Lee, Ph.D. He also explained that "by using this precision ion implantation technology, we will be able to develop low-noise quantum devices required for quantum error correction technology." Although we were a latecomer to quantum computers... "we need to develop this technology independently because it is an important technology related to security" "Although Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the ancestor of electronic computers, was developed for military purposes, it became popular and is being used in everyday life and solving various problems. I think quantum computers have a similar future. Currently, there may be areas in which they are slower than electronic computers. However, these are problems specific to certain mathematical conditions that are considered to be conundrums of electronic computers. Hence, I think quantum computers will change our lives." Quantum computers are expected to perform computations faster than existing supercomputers. However, they are currently limited in many ways owing to hardware limitations. This is why some say quantum computers may perform additions and subtractions slower than conventional computers. However, even ENIAC, the ancestor of computers, which was developed for military purposes, did not perform everything well from the beginning. As computers currently generate graphics and are applied in various areas, such as research and AI development, it is not easy to predict how quantum computers will change our lives after they are commercialized. Lee, Ph.D., said, “If a quantum computer with quantum supremacy is developed, I think some non-deterministic polynomial-time hard (NP-hard) problems that were considered conundrums in classical computers can be solved. Quantum computers are expected to be applied to a broad range of fields, such as chemistry, biology, and physics.” He then added, “Moreover, if quantum sensing with quantum supremacy is made possible, it can be applied to rapid diagnosis of diseases or microscopic research on cellular dynamics. Hence, it can also be used for research to develop new drugs and will have a huge economic ripple effect.” Although quantum computers are referred to as a game changer that can influence national security and industrial competitiveness, Korea is a latecomer to this technology. The government is increasing the budget for quantum technology, but there is a great shortage of professionals required to research and develop this technology. The Ministry of Science and Technology analyzed the authors of research papers on quantum technology last year based on the total number of authors cited. The analysis result shows that Korea has 500 researchers while China has 5518, the European Union has 4100, the United States has 3122, the United Kingdom has 881, and Japan has 800 researchers. In comparison, Korea has a considerably small number of researchers. After all, research is conducted by people. Although the government has presented policies to secure professionals, such as establishing a quantum graduate school, the majority opinion in scientific circles is that talented people will naturally gather when the potential of future-oriented projects is consistently shown and realized instead of a one-time investment. He said, "compared to advanced nations, Korea is a latecomer to quantum computer research. Some have asserted that it would be better to buy this technology. However, quantum technology is deeply related to security, such as threats to existing security systems. Hence, it is important to develop this technology independently." He added, "although we are a semiconductor powerhouse, we must think about the next growth engine. To transition to the next step, many people need to get into this field. I hope an environment will be set up where talented people interested in quantum technology can gather." Meanwhile, the Center for Quantum Information has moved its research center from Gwanggyo to Hongneung Headquarters and is preparing for a new future. It is breaking down the high barrier of government-funded research institutes and transforming into an open research institute, creating an environment where quantum technology researchers, including school professors and researchers from companies, can come together and focus on research.
- WriterCommunications Team
“Ready by 2024” KIST Unveils New Artificial Cloud Chamber Dr. Seongsoo Yeom Oversees Research into Artificial Rainfall and the Construction of a Cloud Chamber
“Did you know that climate predictions from various models differ a lot? I think this is because of a lack of understanding of clouds. We can only prepare for the future if we accurately predict climate change. This is a challenge that cannot be avoided any longer. As such, we will research and develop the technology necessary to predict future environmental changes and to help humans adapt to these changes.” As the Korea Institute for Science and Technology (KIST) unveiled its new Climate and Environmental Research Institute in July, Dr. Seong Soo Yum began his tenure as its Director-General (R&D part) by declaring his commitment to the Institute. Dr. Yum, an expert in cloud observation and numerical modeling research, will lead the Climate and Environmental Research Institute alongside Director Jinyoung Kim. Together, they aim to set up a new research and development (R&D) enforcement strategy and promote the development of integrated, innovative technologies to respond to future climate disasters. “Clouds are at the center of climate change research,” Dr. Yum asserted, explaining that a proper understanding of clouds may help address the impacts of climate change on water resources. Therefore, he plans to carry out intensive cloud-related research at KIST, stating, “We will create artificial clouds through cloud chambers and research the regulation of precipitation to minimize the impacts of droughts and flooding due to climate change.” Although cloud research is still in the early phases, KIST is eager to take on the challenge. Scientists have long been giving warnings of the seriousness of climate change and have been conducting mitigation-related research. However, much of this research has focused on renewable energy sources, or on the reduction and capture of carbon emissions. The Climate and Environmental Research Institute, however, has a different vision. Its goal is to gain a scientific understanding of natural phenomena and develop innovative technologies to preemptively adapt to the impacts of climate change. This makes KIST the only organization to be actively pursuing R&D specifically to respond to future global environmental change. As a professor and the first to jointly working at the Climate and Environmental Research Institute, Dr. Yum commended KIST, stating, “With climate change becoming more serious, the importance of atmospheric science and cloud research is being emphasized. It is significant that KIST has quickly reacted to this global trend and risen to the challenge of conducting research that has never been done before.” He added, “I feel a responsibility to use this opportunity, because atmospheric scientists will have a lot of work to do.” Dr. Yum will oversee cloud-related research at the Institute, something KIST has never attempted before. There, his team will develop systems to understand cloud processes and eventually contribute to accurately predicting climate change, as well as artificial precipitation and cloud dissipation technologies that can bring rain to drought-stricken regions and prevent rainfall in flood-prone areas. The first step will be to develop new materials to artificially trigger or prevent rainfall. This includes condensation nuclei that can turn ordinary clouds into rain clouds and new materials that could possibly reduce precipitation. “Research on artificial rainfall is active in the U.A.E. and China, but our cloud and atmospheric conditions are different from theirs. Any development of new materials must be suited to this region,” he said, emphasizing the importance of securing independent technology. A chamber will be constructed to produce artificial clouds. While the shape and size of the chamber is still under discussion, it has been decided to use various aerosols and water vapor content to create various clouds. “We are collecting the necessary information to build the chamber, hoping to have it ready by 2024. We will bring in new experts in the field of climate change technology, and we will discover the role clouds play in climate change,” he said. The chamber will also be used to test the performance of new materials. Dr. Yum has been working on artificial rainfall simulation models for some years, and his research is expected to gain momentum. “We will be able to measure what is happening inside the cloud chamber first-hand. Given the importance of simulations, we will work to foster synergy with the computational scientists at KIST,” he said. Are there any other cloud chambers in the country? According to Dr. Yum, there are only about seven or eight cloud chambers around the world that are actively in operation. Even in the United States, a country at the forefront of scientific research, currently only one is actively used in researcher. In South Korea, Dr. Yum and the National Institute of Meteorological Sciences are working together to build a cloud chamber and Dr. Yum is participating as a consultant. According to Dr. Yum, “The National Institute of Meteorological Sciences has a chamber that expands air to create clouds, which would be different from KIST’s method.” He added, “We have been speaking with the people who lead a new cloud chamber design project in the U.S. to gather information. As climate change is an issue that all of humanity must address, research should be conducted in a collaborative manner.” If this project succeeds, KIST plans to use drones to study actual clouds. This will be accomplished through collaboration with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, which possesses significant unmanned aircraft technology. “There is no guarantee that this research will be successful,” says Dr. Yum. However, he declares, “With our firm determination, the climate change adaptation technology we need can be developed…” Every five to six years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a comprehensive report that presents research results on predicted climate change scenarios from various countries. However, although the best technology from around the world is used to predict changes in the Earth’s climate and environment, the results vary. Dr. Yum explained that the unattainable true value represents the uncertainty of climate change prediction. “Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to cloud-related research, with many researchers citing clouds as one of the most crucial causes of uncertainty, but such research is not as easy as it seems,” he claims. “As in the saying that absurd dreamers ‘grasp at floating clouds’, clouds are above our heads, but difficult to reach and measure. The amount of water vapor held in each cloud and their aerosol distribution also change daily, which is another barrier to research.” Given the setbacks, Dr. Yum said, “There is no guarantee that this research will be successful.” He further stressed, “Unlike universities which tend to conduct research independently, this Institute is a team-based organization where many people work in synergy with one another. Through firm determination, the climate change adaptation technology we need can be developed, provided that we don’t rush, and remain focused on atmospheric science.” Finally, Dr. Yum said, “There are simulations that artificially eliminate high clouds that increase global temperatures. We call such interventions ‘geoengineering’, the large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s physical and chemical properties. Although geoengineering is currently limited to simulations, it may be our last option if the impacts of climate change become too severe. We should all do our utmost in our respective positions to avoid a situation wherein nature must be artificially manipulated. Therefore, we will ensure that KIST retains its focus on preemptively responding to climate change.”
From Professionalism and Connectivity to Creative Support
Dr. Jae-Pyoung Ahn, the long-time Head of the Advanced Analysis Center, was recently appointed Director of the newly founded Research Resources Division, which consists of five centers: the Doping Control Center, Advanced Analysis Center, Technology Support Center, Research Animal Resources Center, and Micro Nano Fab Center. Together, they are responsible for managing KIST’s research resources and providing broad support across its 30 centers. Future Direction of KIST’s New Research Resources and Data Support Centers To synergize the centers which were combined as a result of the organizational restructuring, professionalism must first be established. The centers can synergistically function only when it is comprised of individuals who specialize in their given roles. Thus, maximizing the professionalism of the various experts within the centers should be the highest priority. Next, we must look for a model that maximizes the connectivity between the centers within the division. We will examine how each of these centers are interconnected in handling tasks, and develop successful cases into a representative model. Once professionalism and connectivity are established within and between the centers, the Research Resources and Data Support Centers should ultimately work toward providing “creative support.” The process through which a researcher requests an analysis at the centers is analogous to how photographers take pictures. If photographers are asked to simply take pictures, they may do so using expensive cameras and assistive equipment. However, if they are requested to take pictures as artists, they may constantly suggest different poses and use their talents to take more expressive pictures. Like flexible photographers, the Research Resources and Data Support centers must actively make suggestions to researchers. Similar to how clients are unfamiliar with photographic techniques and equipment, researchers, too, do not fully understand how to improve their analyses. If those in charge of analyses do not come up with creative ideas and deliver them, researchers cannot realize their ideas. Ultimately, KIST must provide tailored technical and resource support to its researchers. It has been some time now since R&D began to utilize computers, and this has led to rapid advances in simulations and AI. Now, with enough data, AI makes predictions and interpretations at speeds humans can no longer keep up with. Data-based R&D needs the following. First, a platform that can store research data produced at KIST, along with their structured metadata. Therefore, developing a system to collect data in a structured format that can be utilized by researchers within KIST will be the first step toward data-dirven R&D. We are introducing a system that can convert unstructured R&D data into structured R&D data by upgrading the already developed KiRI note. The second step is an AI model that can discover new concepts within the data. For humans, the more the available data, the longer it takes to understand the data, but this is not true for AI models. It is only a matter of time before AI replaces humans in data analysis. But to develop such models, AI and data experts, as well as researchers, must be deeply involved in designing algorithms. To KIST’s Researchers My wish for the researchers at KIST’s Research Resources and Data Support Centers is that every one should become the best in their own fields. Since our centers play a crucial role in KIST becoming a world-renowned research institute, I would like all of you to maintain the professionalism needed to achieve the best performance. I would also like you all to not forget that the Research Resources and Data Support centers boasts the best competencies and technologies within South Korea, and is internationally competitive as well. Many researchers fail to fully utilize the various resources provided by our centers because they are busy, in a hurry, or are unfamiliar with them. While I understand that research cultures are something that cannot change immediately, smoother communication between researchers and resource providers will rapidly increase research productivity. I hope that all of you can engage in greater communication and cooperation in the future. Once professionalism and connectivity are established within and between the centers, the Research Resources Division should ultimately work toward providing “creative support.”
“We Will Create an Immersive Environment for Researchers to Achieve Regional Development.”
Jin Sang Kim, the new Director-General of the Jeonbuk Institute of Advanced Composite Materials a panoraic view of KIST Jeonbuk Institute In August 2020, Dr. Kim was appointed as the KIST's new head, the Jeonbuk Institute of Advanced Composite Materials. Dr. Kim has devoted himself to the research of electronic materials for over 30 years and led to new semiconductor materials and devices. This is why he was selected as the right person in the Jeonbuk branch established to achieve the cornerstone of economic development through the development of carbon-related composite material technology. As soon as he arrived, he had one-on-one interviews with all employees and heard the research site's voice. He listened to the concerns accumulated over the years, from requests for replacement of outdated facilities to improve the research environment and difficulties in research. After the interviews, he went through, again and again, the voices of the researchers compressed in A4 sheets. He had a feeling of confidence following these conversations and thought, “I can do it together with these people”. He said, “I had a lot of worries about how to run the research institute, but I felt reassured that the talented researchers were working hard for the future in our KIST Jeonbuk.” He showed his confidence in managing the institute by adding, “Above all, I gained the trust that these people can do it.” Two joint projects with the Jeonbuk Institute remain as excellent practice cases “I built a relationship with KIST Jeonbuk Institute by doing two joint projects. I wanted to immerse myself in research in a quiet place, and I arrived here. I think it was meant to be.” <span lang="EN-US" sabon="" lt="" std";="" color:="" rgb(33,="" 29,="" 30);"="" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: initial; padding: initial; border: 0px; font-size: 9.5pt; font-weight: initial; vertical-align: baseline; letter-spacing: 0pt;">Director-General Kim conducted joint research with the Jeonbuk Institute while serving as the head of the Moon Exploration Research Project Promotion Team and head of the R&D project team customized for the security site. The Jeonbuk Institute, where research on combining the strengths of two or more materials to create a more synergistic effect is being conducted, was a partner he wanted to work together. Lightweight materials for space travel were researched jointly, and together they also developed an ultra-lightweight foldable shield to protect police officers. Police officers are using these shields and are considered an excellent case among the research team's projects. They were also recently donated to Nigeria. The Jeonbuk Institute has developed a technology that can recover more than 95% of carbon fiber by treating carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) at an eco-friendly and low-cost level. This was transferred to a company. Further, a technology for synthesizing boron nitride was developed, a two-dimensional substance composed of two elements (nitrogen and boron) into a single crystal, and was published in the famous international journal, Science. The “waste plastic into carbon by upcycling technology” he mentioned is expected to be used in high-value-added carbon resource conversion technology from waste plastics, which are increasing due to Covid-19. “As the time spend at home increased due to Covid-19, the consumption of food delivery and the use of disposables increased. We have confirmed that graphite and carbon can be extracted from plastics and used as electrode materials, so we will improve them with low-cost process technology to help solve social problems that may arise from non-face-to-face activities.” Lastly, there is something he wants to achieve while in office. It is a research institute where researchers can settle down and work hard. He said, “Because the Jeonbuk Institute office is located in an area far from the metropolitan area, there is indeed high researcher turnover. There are many young researchers, but I will try to operate the institution so that they can become leader-level researchers.” He added, “I always dream of a future where we can develop carbon-based composite materials to make electric wires, automobile cables, power transmission lines, and so on, and commercialize them. I will create a good research environment where researchers can achieve success.”
Unraveling the Principle of Convergence between Science and Art
Meet KIST Dr. Seo Minah. During the week, she is a physicist devoted to her research in ultrafast optics and nanoscience. Her current research is on developing a sensing platform for quick diagnosis using light to examine protein structural change or virus. On weekends? Don’t be surprised to see her as an artist holding a paintbrush. Optics play an important role in paintings. It has long given inspiration to artists. Georges Seurat, a famous French painter, studied chromatics and optical theory and developed pointillism, drawing paintings that display division of pure color and color contrast. Claude Monet drew haystacks, which look different by seasons. Monet expressed how haystacks, with their porous yet large surface area, are viewed differently under varied sunlight. Many well-known painters, in their attempt to express objects onto the canvas, experimented with light whether they were aware of it or not. The Lycurgus Cup is a 4th century Roman glass cup ornamented with a sculpted mythical King. Normally a green hue, the cup turns red when light passes from the inside. This effect is caused because the scattering of light changes depending on the size and shape of metal nanoparticles. The skill to grind gold and silver into nanoparticles became the underlying technology of stained glass, which spread across Europe after the 12th century. Color change using metal particles is used in various areas in science and technology including biosensors. Dr. Seo’s book published early this year, “A Physicist in the Art Museum”, reveals the world of physics found in art. “Artists are the true experimenters and scientists,” says Dr. Seo. As the title implies, the book is an artbook written from a physicist’s point of view. With each turning page readers are met by artwork after artwork, with atomic model, photo of the sun’s black spot, and sound wave graph in between. Dr. Seo, who makes sure to visit art museums whenever she travels abroad for research or a conference, realized that artists’ inspirational muse turned out to be physics, especially since 17th century. With this book, she hoped to unravel how that science converges with art. Take the two paintings of La Grenouill？？re, for example. Comparing the same scenery drawn by Renoir and Monet during the same period, you can understand how surface tension and gravity creates waves on water surface, and the book explains how waves are made and the movement of medium when wave travels, and why this happens. Ren？？ Magritte’s ‘The Treachery of Images’ unfolds the wonders of quantum mechanics, a main pillar of modern physics, while Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Caf？？ du Tambourin’ shows us another image hidden in the background, investigated by various wavelength of light. Dr. Seo draws cover images for her research paper whenever possible. In graduate school she was well known for her image-producing skills. Even now Dr. Seo continues to paint. She sends drawings for her friends’ wedding invitations, published a children’s picture book, and submits artwork for her art club’s group exhibitions. She also drew the image for the cover paper published in Advanced Optical Materials last February. These have led to her writing a book introducing core concepts and principles of physics in art masterpieces. Dr. Seo said, “The experiment data we see every day is boring numbers, not images. Through drawing, I developed a skill of giving form to numbers inside my head. It is important to visualize your research to help people understand it. I hope this book will be helpful in adding a stroke of thoughtfulness when visualizing study findings to exchange ideas with experts in other fields.” Even as she continues to paint, Dr. Seo plans to focus more on her career as a researcher. “I recently had success with KIST Virus Research Team on virus measurement and cell observation research using THz light. Bio research is a completely new field for a physicist like myself, but I want to use this experience as a chance to develop medical equipment that is useful in our daily lives in the near future,” says Dr. Seo.
Five Foreign Students at KIST School Share Their Stories
These are just several of the comments expressed by foreign students conducting research at KIST where there are currently about 200 international students acquiring R&D skills in science and technology by participating in national joint research projects. The students have come to Korea to join KIST School, which was established jointly by KIST and UST (University of Science and Technology) in 2017. KIST School has approximately 500 alumni around the world (as of 2018). Graduates continue their research careers at prestigious universities and government-funded institutions equipped with real research experience and strong adaptability. “My dream is to become a researcher of many talents” Meet Laura Bilbao Broch. A member of the KIST Center for Functional Connectomics, she has an unusual background by having lived in six countries over the past seven years. “I wanted to experience life in Asia. That is one of the reasons why I thought of working and living in Korea” she explains. She is currently working at KIST on developing GEVIs(Genetically Encoded Voltage Indicators). Bilbao Broch explains a GEVI is a protein that can sense membrane potential in a cell and relates the change in voltage to a fluorescent output. is a protein that can sense membrane potential in a cell and is involved in the change in voltage to a fluorescent output. Using GEVIs, you can report neuronal voltage from dozens of neurons in a single field of view. She says, “GEVI is a new research field that I encountered for the first time at KIST. As I came with hopes of acquiring new knowledge, I am enjoying participating in the project.” It’s been several months since she came to Korea. “I feel comfortable living here now, as you can see from how I use chopsticks with ease,” she jokes. “KIST has a full array of research facilities and equipment necessary for projects, and researchers here are top experts in their fields,” she adds, factors which contribute to her satisfaction with life at KIST. With a goal to become an “well-rounded scientist,” she believes, “It’s natural to become an expert if you spend most of your time in one area. But I am interested in learning theories and skills from a wide range of fields.” She adds, “I would like to become an well-rounded scientist by participating in diverse projects.” “I wanted to live as a researcher in the country of Taekwondo” Cininta Savitri from Indonesia is a student researcher at KIST’s Center for Biomaterials. She is studying ways to develop biomaterials by synthesizing naturally-obtained CDMs into artificial material such as polymer. “I fell in love with Korea while taking Taekwondo classes as a child,” Savitri says. She found out about the KIST School program when she was considering a doctoral degree. She applied in order to grab the opportunity to experience “living in the country of Taekwondo.” As she explains, “The programs supported by KIST School were very interesting. They are research-centered and give you the chance to actually conduct research and become an author of a paper.” She adds, “High pay and a full scholarship are benefits that came to me and that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.” “KIST encourages and leads researchers to come up with creative ideas through programs such as the Idea Contest,” Savitri states. “From facilities to experiments and so forth, KIST has a well-provided environment.” She adds, “Although I am doing research in Korea, I am able to expand to the global stage through collaborative studies with researchers in various institutions around the world, which I am happy about. Our lab is conducting joint research with labs in China and the U.S. It’s a great advantage to have the opportunity to work with talents and resources there.” “Through R&D, I wish to provide a solution to my country’s energy problem” Tran Huyen Dang is a student researcher from Vietnam. Taking a doctoral program as a member of the Clean Energy Research Center, she is working on metal catalyst research, conducting experiments on the oxidation of methane and optimizing all conditions for reaction in order to find industrial applications for renewable energy. Her interest in renewable energy comes from her desire to make a positive impact on Vietnam’s environmental and energy issues. This is also why she chose Korea for doing research. Korea’s history of development played a role in her decision. “Korea quickly advanced its science and technology and achieved exceptional growth. Coming to KIST has given me so much training in creative research. Living and studying in Korea is a huge opportunity for me.” After graduating from KIST School, she plans to join a postdoctoral program to gain additional research knowledge and skills and study research trends. ？“Korea’s R&D policy to solve global issues impressed me” Denis, a student researcher at the Clean Energy Research Center, is now in his second year living in Korea. He is working on research related to the conversion of CO2 to formic acid, which is known to be a more stable and adequate material for hydrogen storage and transport compared to hydrogen, gas, or liquids. Having come to Korea through a program administered jointly by Belarus Science Academy and KIST, Denis says, “I was curious about meeting new people and their research culture. I applied without hesitation and started my internship.” He thoroughly concurs that KIST is an excellent place for R&D. Talking about the Korean government’s S&T support, he explains, “Korea has S&T policies to solve global issues. These aren’t easy issues for countries to try to solve, so I was impressed by Korea’s long-term investment.” He hopes to continue his research career in the field of chemical catalysts and engineering. As he explains, “I plan to keep taking on new challenges, keep growing, and obtain various knowledge.” To researchers abroad who wish to come to Korea he gives the following advice, “It is difficult to stop what you are doing and come. But you need to learn to let go if you want to adjust to a new environment. There is fascination in getting to know a new world and learning unpredictable things. In these aspects, Korea can be the best starting point.” “Faced with the ever-increasing incidence of cancer, I wish to study the topic of prognosis” At KIST’s Molecular Recognition Research Center, you will find student researcher Eda Ates working on field studies necessary to develop a new biomarker. Ates found out about KIST School by chance on the internet. She applied with hopes of conducting a wide range of research with talented colleagues and world-class facilities and says she is happy with her life at KIST. Above all, she is attracted by joint global research projects where you can collaborate with many talented researchers. She says, “KIST has highly educated students from around the world. Because they come from such a diverse cultural background, the school provides an environment where you can understand and learn from different cultures.” She adds, “I am particularly satisfied with the facilities where you can effectively conduct experiments and the fact that you can exchange opinions about science topics and strengthen creativity.” Her future challenge is to do R&D on biomarkers related to cancer. Reflecting on her future, Ates muses, “I don’t have any specific plans about the future yet. But I am interested in acquiring various knowledge in biology and finding a new biomarker for cancer.” She continues by saying, “Many suffer from cancer, which is increasing each year. I will start an experiment under the topic of finding biomarkers necessary in the process of cancer prognosis and treatment.”
Five Scientists Who Embrace Convergence Research
To solve social problems that are becoming increasingly diverse and complex, researchers are voluntarily teaming up to conduct convergence research. Convergence research isn’t easy - working in different labs makes it challenging to schedule meetings, and researchers are already working long hours on other major projects. But the benefits of taking a lead research role and working on such significant issues make convergence research appealing. Idea Born During Basketball Match Scores Big "An idea that came up during a game with KIST basketball club members was the start of it all. Our joking comments took shape. Because we were in charge of everything from ideas to experiments, the process was fun - and that’s why I think we produced good results.” (Dr. Wook Seong LEE) Dr. Lee and Dr. Choi led a team that last year succeeded in developing an adhesive material that can efficiently remove toxic Cr6+, a heavy metal which is often discharged in high concentrations in industrial wastewater. Researchers first came together for this interdisciplinary convergence project back in 2015. Researcher Young Jin KO, a member of the KIST basketball club, started talking about a research topic he was interested in while taking a break after a game. Ko said, “Polypyrrole is frequently used to deliver electric signals in artificial muscles. When I was doing research on polypyrrole, I was told that it is also used to remove heavy metal in water.” Ko and Dr. Lee went on to create an adhesive material using polypyrrole, which is widely used as a conductive polymer, and Dr. Choi’s team then used the material to experiment with heavy metal adhesion. The KIST Computational Science Research Center also joined in and analyzed the adhesion change of Cr6+ according to certain parameters and contributed to schematizing the experiments. As a result, the combined team was able to quantitatively define the adhesion mechanism of Cr6+ in aquatic conditions through its oxidation and deoxidation reaction according to different pH conditions, using a certain nitrogen-carbon structure within polypyrrole. Researchers really enjoyed conducting research which they planned on their own, but it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve the results without input from experts in various fields. As Dr. Lee explained, “There was a lot of research similar to ours starting in the early 2000s, but none of it quite reached the level of in-depth analysis of related mechanisms. We approached from various fields - material, physics, and chemistry, which made the difference. I also think doing research with a good frame of mind led to good results.” Convergence Research? It’s What We Do Everyday “ Convergence research is an everyday activity. You ask an expert if you have questions about an unfamiliar field. Doing research based on the idea created in that process is how I see convergence research.” (Dr. Ki Hoon KIM) Dr. Ki Hoon KIM and Dr. Hyo Jin LEE recently succeeded in developing a biosensor that diagnoses precocious puberty using urine. 1 mL of urine is enough to detect trace amounts of sex hormone, making this biosensor the most sensitive in the world. This research was not the first convergence project for the two researchers. While postdoctoral researchers at the same university, they already had experience working？ together on confirming the denaturation of biomaterial using mass spectrometry, so it was easy to join forces once again. It made sense to Dr. Lee, “We had to analyze a specific sample - urine - for hormones. Because this is a specialized area of the KIST Doping Control Center, I suggested to Dr. Kim that we work together on this project.” To develop the biosensor, Dr. Lee assumed the role of design and synthesis while Dr. Kim worked on signal testing and analysis. A major research challenge was an insufficient amount of sex hormones in urine. To address this issue, researchers assigned a specific barcode to urine sex hormones. First, they made a biosensor composed of a magnet and gold nanoparticles, and then attached an antibody that draws sex hormones to the magnet, while the gold nanoparticles were tied with aptamer and 7 million chemical substances capable of combining with certain sex hormones. When sex hormones inside urine bind to the gold particles, the biosensor sends a strong signal, just like a barcode, to signal the existence of sex hormones. Dr. Lee said, “I believe that asking an expert about something you don’t know and accepting the challenge to move from a new idea to a result is what convergence research is about. Interacting and having casual conversations with other researchers made this project possible.”