[AZoNano] New Strategy for Synthesizing Single-Cry..
A group of researchers from KAIST has developed a new approach for producing single-crystalline graphene quantum dots, which release stable blue light. Uniformly ordered single-crystalline graphene quantum dots of various sizes synthesized through solution chemistry. (Image credit: KAIST) The scientists verified that a display built using their synthesized graphene quantum dots effectively released blue light with stable electric pressure, apparently resolving the persistent problems faced in achieving blue light emission in manufactured displays. The research, headed by Professor O Ok Park from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, appeared online in Nano Letters on July 5th, 2019. Graphene has won increased interest as a next-generation material for its electrical and heat conductivity and also its transparency. However, single- and multi-layered graphene have characteristics of a conductor hence it is not easy to be applied into a semiconductor. The semiconductor’s unique characteristic of bandgap will be shown to release the light in the graphene only upon being downsized to the nanoscale. This illuminating featuring of dot is known as a graphene quantum dot. Traditionally, single-crystalline graphene has been produced by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on nickel or copper thin films, or by peeling graphite chemically and physically. However, graphene produced through chemical vapor deposition is principally employed for large-surface transparent electrodes. However, graphene fabricated by chemical and physical peeling has irregular size defects. The group of scientists described that their graphene quantum dots showed a highly stable single-phase reaction when they combined amine and acetic acid with an aqueous solution of glucose. After that, they produced single-crystalline graphene quantum dots through the self-assembly of the reaction intermediate. During fabrication, the group created a new separation technique at a low-temperature precipitation, which resulted in the successful production of homogeneous nucleation of graphene quantum dots through a single-phase reaction. Professor Park and his teammates have created solution-phase synthesis technology that enables the construction of the desired crystal size for single nanocrystals down to 100 nm. It is supposedly the first production of the homogeneous nucleation of graphene through a single-phase reaction. This solution method will significantly contribute to the grafting of graphene in various fields. The application of this new graphene will expand the scope of its applications such as for flexible displays and varistors. Professor O Ok Park, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, KAIST This study was a joint project with a group from Korea University under Professor Sang Hyuk Im at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Nano-Material Technology Development Program from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), KAIST EEWS, and the BK21＋ project from the Korean government. Source: https://www.kaist.ac.kr/html/en/index.html
[Electronics Online] A powerful tool to analyze MO..
An international team, including staff from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist; Daejeon, South Korea; www.kaist.ac.kr), led by Kaist’s professor Jeung Ku Kang, has developed a technology to analyze the gas adsorption behavior of molecules of each individual pore of a metal organic framework (MOF). Existing technology is only able to measure the amount of gas molecules adsorbed by the material, without directly observing the adsorption behavior. The team developed a realtime gas-adsorption crystallography system by integrating an existing X-ray diffraction measurement device that can provide structural information and a gas adsorption measurement device. The system allows the observation of a mesoporous MOF with multiple pores. The team categorized the adsorption behavior of MOF molecules by pore type, achieving the identification of a stepwise adsorption process that was not previously possible to analyze. The team analyzed how the pore structure and the type of adsorption molecule affect the adsorption behavior to suggest what type of MOF structure is suitable as a storage material for each type of adsorption behavior. Specifically, the team used two MOFs, PCN-224 and ZIF-412 which contain two and three different types of pore, respectively, to generate isotherms of individual pores by combining gas adsorption measurements with in situ X-ray diffraction. This isotherm decomposition approach provides access to information about the gas uptake capacity, surface area and accessible pore volume of each individual pore, as well as the impact of pore geometry on the uptake and distribution of different adsorbates within the pores. “By understanding the realtime adsorption behavior of molecules at the level of the pores that form the material, rather than the whole material, we will be able to apply this technology to develop a new high-capacity storage material,” says professor Kang. https://www.chemengonline.com/powerful-tool-analyze-mofs/?printmode=1
Researchers Describe a Mechanism Inducing Self-Kil..
(Professor Kim (left) and lead author Lee) Researchers have described a new mechanism which induces the self-killing of cancer cells by perturbing ion homeostasis. A research team from the Department of Biochemical Engineering has developed helical polypeptide potassium ionophores that lead to the onset of programmed cell death. The ionophores increase the active oxygen concentration to stress endoplasmic reticulum to the point of cellular death. The electrochemical gradient between extracellular and intracellular conditions plays an important role in cell growth and metabolism. When a cell’s ion homeostasis is disturbed, critical functions accelerating the activation of apoptosis are inhibited in the cell. Although ionophores have been intensively used as an ion homeostasis disturber, the mechanisms of cell death have been unclear and the bio-applicability has been limited. In the study featured at Advanced Science, the team presented an alpha helical peptide-based anticancer agent that is capable of transporting potassium ions with water solubility. The cationic, hydrophilic, and potassium ionic groups were combined at the end of the peptide side chain to provide both ion transport and hydrophilic properties. These peptide-based ionophores reduce the intracellular potassium concentration and at the same time increase the intracellular calcium concentration. Increased intracellular calcium concentrations produce intracellular reactive oxygen species, causing endoplasmic reticulum stress, and ultimately leading to apoptosis. Anticancer effects were evaluated using tumor-bearing mice to confirm the therapeutic effect, even in animal models. It was found that tumor growth was strongly inhibited by endoplasmic stress-mediated apoptosis. Lead author Dr. Dae-Yong Lee said, “A peptide-based ionophore is more effective than conventional chemotherapeutic agents because it induces apoptosis via elevated reactive oxygen species levels. Professor Yeu-Chun Kim said he expects this new mechanism to be widely used as a new chemotherapeutic strategy. This research was funded by the National Research Foundation.
Synthesizing Single-Crystalline Hexagonal Graphene..
(Figure: Uniformly ordered single-crystalline graphene quantum dots of various sizes synthesized through solution chemistry.) A KAIST team has designed a novel strategy for synthesizing single-crystalline graphene quantum dots, which emit stable blue light. The research team confirmed that a display made of their synthesized graphene quantum dots successfully emitted blue light with stable electric pressure, reportedly resolving the long-standing challenges of blue light emission in manufactured displays. The study, led by Professor O Ok Park in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, was featured online in Nano Letters on July 5. Graphene has gained increased attention as a next-generation material for its heat and electrical conductivity as well as its transparency. However, single and multi-layered graphene have characteristics of a conductor so that it is difficult to apply into semiconductor. Only when downsized to the nanoscale, semiconductor’s distinct feature of bandgap will be exhibited to emit the light in the graphene. This illuminating featuring of dot is referred to as a graphene quantum dot. Conventionally, single-crystalline graphene has been fabricated by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on copper or nickel thin films, or by peeling graphite physically and chemically. However, graphene made via chemical vapor deposition is mainly used for large-surface transparent electrodes. Meanwhile, graphene made by chemical and physical peeling carries uneven size defects. The research team explained that their graphene quantum dots exhibited a very stable single-phase reaction when they mixed amine and acetic acid with an aqueous solution of glucose. Then, they synthesized single-crystalline graphene quantum dots from the self-assembly of the reaction intermediate. In the course of fabrication, the team developed a new separation method at a low-temperature precipitation, which led to successfully creating a homogeneous nucleation of graphene quantum dots via a single-phase reaction. Professor Park and his colleagues have developed solution phase synthesis technology that allows for the creation of the desired crystal size for single nanocrystals down to 100 nano meters. It is reportedly the first synthesis of the homogeneous nucleation of graphene through a single-phase reaction. Professor Park said, "This solution method will significantly contribute to the grafting of graphene in various fields. The application of this new graphene will expand the scope of its applications such as for flexible displays and varistors.” This research was a joint project with a team from Korea University under Professor Sang Hyuk Im from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Nano-Material Technology Development Program from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), KAIST EEWS, and the BK21＋ project from the Korean government.
‘Flying Drones for Rescue’
< Team USRG and Professor Shim (second from the right) > Having recently won the AI R&D Grand Challenge Competition in Korea with their drone, Team USRG (Unmanned System Research Group) led by Professor Hyunchul Shim from the School of Electrical Engineering is all geared up to take on their next challenges: the ‘Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Subterranean Challenge (DARPA SubT Challenge)’ and ‘Lockheed Martin’s AlphaPilot Challenge’ next month. Team USRG won the obstacle course race in the ‘2019 AI R&D Grand Challenge Competition’ on July 12. They managed to successfully dominate the challenging category of ‘control intelligence.’ Having to complete the obstacle course race solely using AI systems without any connection to the internet made it difficult for most of the eight participating teams to pass the third section of the race, and only Team USRG passed the long pipeline course during their attempt in the main event. They also demonstrated, after the main event, that their drone can navigate all of the checkpoints including landing on the “H” mark using deep learning. Their drone flew through polls and pipes, and escaped from windows and mazes against strong winds, amid cheers and groans from the crowd gathered at the Korea Exhibition Center (KINTEX) in Goyang, Korea. The team was awarded three million KRW in prize money, and received a research grant worth six hundred million KRW from the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT). “Being ranked first in the race for which we were never given a chance for a test flight means a lot to our team. Considering that we had no information on the exact size of the course in advance, this is a startling result,” said Professor Shim. “We will carry out further research with this funding, and compete once again with the improved AI and drone technology in the 2020 competition,” he added. The AI R&D Grand Challenge Competition, which was first started in 2017, has been designed to promote AI research and development and expand its application to addressing high-risk technical challenges with significant socio-economic impact. This year’s competition presented participants with a task where they had to develop AI software technology for drones to navigate themselves autonomously during complex disaster relief operations such as aid delivery. Each team participated in one of the four tracks of the competition, and their drones were evaluated based on the criteria for each track. The divisions were broken up into intelligent context-awareness, intelligent character recognition, auditory intelligence, and control intelligence. Team USRG’s technological prowess has been already well acclaimed among international peer groups. Teamed up with NASA JPL, Caltech, and MIT, they will compete in the subterranean mission during the ‘DARPA SubT Challenge’. Team CoSTAR, as its name stands for, is working together to build ‘Collaborative SubTerranean Autonomous Resilient Robots.’ Professor Shim emphasized the role KAIST plays in Team CoSTAR as a leader in drone technology. “I think when our drone technology will be added to our peers’ AI and robotics, Team CoSTAR will bring out unsurpassable synergy in completing the subterrestrial and planetary applications. I would like to follow the footprint of Hubo, the winning champion of the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge and even extend it to subterranean exploration,” he said. These next generation autonomous subsurface explorers are now all optimizing the physical AI robot systems developed by Team CoSTAR. They will test their systems in more realistic field environments August 15 through 22 in Pittsburgh, USA. They have already received funding from DARPA for participating. Team CoSTAR will compete in three consecutive yearly events starting this year, and the last event, planned for 2021, will put the team to the final test with courses that incorporate diverse challenges from all three events. Two million USD will be awarded to the winner after the final event, with additional prizes of up to 200,000 USD for self-funded teams. Team USRG also ranked third in the recent Hyundai Motor Company’s ‘Autonomous Vehicle Competition’ and another challenge is on the horizon: Lockheed Martin’s ‘AlphaPilot Challenge’. In this event, the teams will be flying their drones through a series of racing gates, trying to beat the best human pilot. The challenge is hosted by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor and the maker of the famed F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, with the goal of stimulating the development of autonomous drones. Team USRG was selected from out of more than 400 teams from around the world and is preparing for a series of races this fall, beginning from the end of August. Professor Shim said, “It is not easy to perform in a series of competitions in just a few months, but my students are smart, hardworking, and highly motivated. These events indeed demand a lot, but they really challenge the researchers to come up with technologies that work in the real world. This is the way robotics really should be.”
Flexible User Interface Distribution for Ubiquitou..
< Research Group of Professor Insik Shin (center) > KAIST researchers have developed mobile software platform technology that allows a mobile application (app) to be executed simultaneously and more dynamically on multiple smart devices. Its high flexibility and broad applicability can help accelerate a shift from the current single-device paradigm to a multiple one, which enables users to utilize mobile apps in ways previously unthinkable. Recent trends in mobile and IoT technologies in this era of 5G high-speed wireless communication have been hallmarked by the emergence of new display hardware and smart devices such as dual screens, foldable screens, smart watches, smart TVs, and smart cars. However, the current mobile app ecosystem is still confined to the conventional single-device paradigm in which users can employ only one screen on one device at a time. Due to this limitation, the real potential of multi-device environments has not been fully explored. A KAIST research team led by Professor Insik Shin from the School of Computing, in collaboration with Professor Steve Ko’s group from the State University of New York at Buffalo, has developed mobile software platform technology named FLUID that can flexibly distribute the user interfaces (UIs) of an app to a number of other devices in real time without needing any modifications. The proposed technology provides single-device virtualization, and ensures that the interactions between the distributed UI elements across multiple devices remain intact. This flexible multimodal interaction can be realized in diverse ubiquitous user experiences (UX), such as using live video steaming and chatting apps including YouTube, LiveMe, and AfreecaTV. FLUID can ensure that the video is not obscured by the chat window by distributing and displaying them separately on different devices respectively, which lets users enjoy the chat function while watching the video at the same time. In addition, the UI for the destination input on a navigation app can be migrated into the passenger’s device with the help of FLUID, so that the destination can be easily and safely entered by the passenger while the driver is at the wheel. FLUID can also support 5G multi-view apps – the latest service that allows sports or games to be viewed from various angles on a single device. With FLUID, the user can watch the event simultaneously from different viewpoints on multiple devices without switching between viewpoints on a single screen. PhD candidate Sangeun Oh, who is the first author, and his team implemented the prototype of FLUID on the leading open-source mobile operating system, Android, and confirmed that it can successfully deliver the new UX to 20 existing legacy apps. “This new technology can be applied to next-generation products from South Korean companies such as LG’s dual screen phone and Samsung’s foldable phone and is expected to embolden their competitiveness by giving them a head-start in the global market.” said Professor Shin. This study will be presented at the 25th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (ACM MobiCom 2019) October 21 through 25 in Los Cabos, Mexico. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (CNS-1350883 (CAREER) and CNS-1618531). Figure 1. Live video streaming and chatting app scenario Figure 2. Navigation app scenario Figure 3. 5G multi-view app scenario Publication: Sangeun Oh, Ahyeon Kim, Sunjae Lee, Kilho Lee, Dae R. Jeong, Steven Y. Ko, and Insik Shin. 2019. FLUID: Flexible User Interface Distribution for Ubiquitous Multi-device Interaction. To be published in Proceedings of the 25th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (ACM MobiCom 2019). ACM, New York, NY, USA. Article Number and DOI Name TBD. Video Material: https://youtu.be/lGO4GwH4enA Profile: Prof. Insik Shin, MS, PhD ishin＠kaist.ac.kr https://cps.kaist.ac.kr/~ishin Professor Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Lab School of Computing Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea Profile: Sangeun Oh, PhD Candidate ohsang1213＠kaist.ac.kr https://cps.kaist.ac.kr/ PhD Candidate Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Lab School of Computing Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea Profile: Prof. Steve Ko, PhD stevko＠buffalo.edu https://nsr.cse.buffalo.edu/?page_id=272 Associate Professor Networked Systems Research Group Department of Computer Science and Engineering State University of New York at Buffalo http://www.buffalo.edu/ Buffalo 14260, USA (END)
Deep Learning-Powered ‘DeepEC’ Helps Accurately Un..
(Figure: Overall scheme of DeepEC) A deep learning-powered computational framework, ‘DeepEC,’ will allow the high-quality and high-throughput prediction of enzyme commission numbers, which is essential for the accurate understanding of enzyme functions. A team of Dr. Jae Yong Ryu, Professor Hyun Uk Kim, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee at KAIST reported the computational framework powered by deep learning that predicts enzyme commission (EC) numbers with high precision in a high-throughput manner. DeepEC takes a protein sequence as an input and accurately predicts EC numbers as an output. Enzymes are proteins that catalyze biochemical reactions and EC numbers consisting of four level numbers (i.e., a.b.c.d) indicate biochemical reactions. Thus, the identification of EC numbers is critical for accurately understanding enzyme functions and metabolism. EC numbers are usually given to a protein sequence encoding an enzyme during a genome annotation procedure. Because of the importance of EC numbers, several EC number prediction tools have been developed, but they have room for further improvement with respect to computation time, precision, coverage, and the total size of the files needed for the EC number prediction. DeepEC uses three convolutional neural networks (CNNs) as a major engine for the prediction of EC numbers, and also implements homology analysis for EC numbers if the three CNNs do not produce reliable EC numbers for a given protein sequence. DeepEC was developed by using a gold standard dataset covering 1,388,606 protein sequences and 4,669 EC numbers. In particular, benchmarking studies of DeepEC and five other representative EC number prediction tools showed that DeepEC made the most precise and fastest predictions for EC numbers. DeepEC also required the smallest disk space for implementation, which makes it an ideal third-party software component. Furthermore, DeepEC was the most sensitive in detecting enzymatic function loss as a result of mutations in domains/binding site residue of protein sequences; in this comparative analysis, all the domains or binding site residue were substituted with L-alanine residue in order to remove the protein function, which is known as the L-alanine scanning method. This study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) on June 20, 2019, entitled “Deep learning enables high-quality and high-throughput prediction of enzyme commission numbers.” “DeepEC can be used as an independent tool and also as a third-party software component in combination with other computational platforms that examine metabolic reactions. DeepEC is freely available online,” said Professor Kim. Distinguished Professor Lee said, “With DeepEC, it has become possible to process ever-increasing volumes of protein sequence data more efficiently and more accurately.” This work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Changes on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries from the Ministry of Science and ICT through the National Research Foundation of Korea. This work was also funded by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Korean government, the Ministry of Science and ICT. Profile: -Professor Hyun Uk Kim (ehukim＠kaist.ac.kr) https://sites.google.com/view/ehukim Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering -Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee (leesy＠kaist.ac.kr) Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering http://mbel.kaist.ac.kr
High-Performance Sodium Ion Batteries Using Copper..
(Prof.Yuk and his two PhD candidates Parks) Researchers presented a new strategy for extending sodium ion batteries’ cyclability using copper sulfide as the electrode material. This strategy has led to high-performance conversion reactions and is expected to advance the commercialization of sodium ion batteries as they emerge as an alternative to lithium ion batteries. Professor Jong Min Yuk’s team confirmed the stable sodium storage mechanism using copper sulfide, a superior electrode material that is pulverization-tolerant and induces capacity recovery. Their findings suggest that when employing copper sulfide, sodium ion batteries will have a lifetime of more than five years with one charge per a day. Even better, copper sulfide, composed of abundant natural materials such as copper and sulfur, has better cost competitiveness than lithium ion batteries, which use lithium and cobalt. Intercalation-type materials such as graphite, which serve as commercialized anode materials in lithium ion batteries, have not been viable for high-capacity sodium storage due to their insufficient interlayer spacing. Thus, conversion and alloying reactions type materials have been explored to meet higher capacity in the anode part. However, those materials generally bring up large volume expansions and abrupt crystallographic changes, which lead to severe capacity degradation. The team confirmed that semi-coherent phase interfaces and grain boundaries in conversion reactions played key roles in enabling pulverization-tolerant conversion reactions and capacity recovery, respectively. Most of conversion and alloying reactions type battery materials usually experience severe capacity degradations due to having completely different crystal structures and large volume expansion before and after the reactions. However, copper sulfides underwent a gradual crystallographic change to make the semi-coherent interfaces, which eventually prevented the pulverization of particles. Based on this unique mechanism, the team confirmed that copper sulfide exhibits a high capacity and high cycling stability regardless of its size and morphology. Professor Yuk said, “Sodium ion batteries employing copper sulfide can advance sodium ion batteries, which could contribute to the development of low-cost energy storage systems and address the micro-dust issue” This study was posted in Advanced Science on April 26 online and selected as the inside back cover for June issue. (Figure: Schematic model demonstrating grain boundaries and phase interfaces formations.)
Three Professors Receive Han Sung Science Awards
Three KAIST professors swept the 2nd Han Sung Science Awards. Professor Bum-Ki Min from the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Physics, Professor Sun-Kyu Han from the Department of Chemistry, and Professor Seung-Jae Lee from the Department of Biological Sciences won all three awards presented by the Han Sung Scholarship Foundation, which recognizes promising mid-career scientists in the fields of physics, chemistry, and biological sciences. The awards ceremony will take place on August 16 in Hwaseong. Professor Min was declared as the winner of the physics field in recognition of his outstanding research activities including searching for new application areas for metamaterials and investigating their unexplored functionalities. The metamaterials with a high index of refraction developed by Professor Min’s research team have caught the attention of scientists worldwide, as they can help develop high-resolution imaging systems and ultra-small, hyper-sensitive optical devices. The chemistry field winner, Professor Han, is the youngest awardee so far at 36 years of age. He is often described as one of the most promising next-generation Korean scientists in the field of the total synthesis of complex natural products. Given the fact that this field takes very long-term research, he is making unprecedented research achievements. He is focusing on convergent and flexible synthetic approaches that enable access to not only a single target but various natural products with structural and biosynthetic relevance as well as unnatural products with higher biological potency. Professor Lee was recognized for his contributions to the advancement of biological sciences, especially in aging research. Professor Lee’s team is taking a novel approach by further investigating complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors that affect aging, and identifying genes that mediate the effects. The team has been conducting large-scale gene discovery efforts by employing RNA sequencing analysis, RNAi screening, and chemical mutagenesis screening. They are striving to determine the functional significance of candidate genes obtained from these experiments and mechanistically characterize these genes.
Professor Lee Elected as a Council Member of ION
< Professor Jiyun Lee > Professor Jiyun Lee from the Department of Aerospace Engineering became the first professor of Korean university to be selected as a council member of the Institute of Navigation (ION), serving specifically as a technical representative. ION is a world-leading organization established in 1945 and dedicated to advancing Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) technologies. ION’s international membership is drawn not only from professionals in the fields of navigation, engineering, astronomy, education, and general aviation and the airline industry, but also from various supporting institutions, corporations, and government agencies. Professor Lee has been actively engaged in the Institute’s academic and community activities as a technical advisor for the Satellite Division in the Asia-Pacific region, a chair of the International Technical Meeting, as well as a section chair of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS＋) Conference. She has also published 34 papers in numerous ION journals and conference proceedings over the past 10 years while serving as an associate editor of the ION Navigation Journal. From these activities, Professor Lee was recognized for her academic achievements and committed leadership, which led her to be appointed as the first professor from a Korean university to participate on the Council. She will serve her term over the next two years, and conduct day-to-day operations for the Institute mainly related to developing new programs and strategies for the advancement of PNT technologies and discovering new distinguished members.
Wearable Robot ‘WalkON Suit’ Off to Cybathlon 2020
Standing upright and walking alone are very simple but noble motions that separate humans from many other creatures. Wearable and prosthetic technologies have emerged to augment human function in locomotion and manipulation. However, advances in wearable robot technology have been especially momentous to Byoung-Wook Kim, a triplegic for 22 years following a devastating car accident. Kim rejoiced after standing upright and walking again by putting on the ‘WalkON Suit,’ the wearable robot developed by Professor Kyoungchul Kong’s team. Even more, Kim won third prize in the powered exoskeleton race at Cybathlon 2016, an international cyborg Olympics hosted by ETH Zurich. Now Kim and Professor Kong’s team are all geared up for the Cybathlon Championship 2020. Professor Kong and his startup, Angel Robotics, held a kickoff ceremony for Cybathlon 2020 at KAIST on June 24. The 2020 championship will take place in Switzerland. Only pilots with complete paralysis of the legs resulting from spinal cord injuries are eligible to participate in the Cybathlon, which takes place every four years. Pilots compete against each other while completing everyday tasks using technical assistance systems in six different disciplines: a brain-computer interface race, a functional electrical stimulation bike race, a powered arm prosthesis race, a powered leg prosthesis race, a powered exoskeleton race, and a powered wheelchair race. The 2016 championship drew 66 pilots from 56 teams representing 25 countries. In the powered exoskeleton race, pilots complete everyday activities such as getting up from a sofa and overcoming obstacles such as stairs, ramps, or slopes and up to four pilots compete simultaneously on tracks to solve six tasks; and the pilot that solves the most tasks in the least amount of time wins the race. (Kim, a triplegic for 22 years demonstrates walking and climbing the stairs (below photo) wearing the WalkOn Suit during the media day for the Cybathlon 2020 kickoff ceremony on June 21 at KAIST.) Kim, who demonstrated walking and climbing the stairs wearing the WalkON Suit during the media day for the Cybathlon 2020 kickoff ceremony on June 21 at KAIST, said, “I have been confined to a wheelchair for more than 20 years. I am used to it so I feel like the wheelchair is one of my body parts. Actually, I don’t feel any big difficulties in doing everyday tasks in wheelchair. But whenever I face the fact that I will never be able to stand up with my own two legs again, I am so devastated.” He continued, “I still remember the day when I stood up with my own two legs by myself after 22 years by wearing this robot. It was beyond description.” The market for wearable robots, especially for exoskeleton robots, is continuing to grow as the aging population has been a major challenge in almost every advanced country. The global market for these robots expects to see annual growth of 41.2％ to 8.3 billion US dollars by 2025. Healthcare wearable robots for the elderly and rehabilitation take up the half of the market share followed by wearable robots for industrial and defense purposes. Professor Kong from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and his colleagues have developed two wearable robot systems in 2014: The "WalkON Suit" for complete paraplegics and “Angel Suit” for those with partial impairment in walking ability such as the elderly and rehabilitation patients. Professor Kong said after 15 years of basic research, the team is now able to develop its own distinct technologies. He said their robots are powered by non-resistant precision drives with algorithms recognizing the user’s moving intention. Incorporated with prosthetic devices technology from the Severance Rehabilitation Hospital, their control technology has led to the production of a customizable robot suit optimized for each user’s physical condition. The WalkON Suit, which boasts a maximum force of 250 Nm and maximum rotation speed of 45 RPM, gives the user high-energy efficiency modeled after the physiology of the human leg. It allows users to walk on flat ground and down stairs, climb up and down inclines, and sit and lie down. Currently the battery lasts five to six hours for locomotion and the approximate 25 kg of robot weight still remains a technical challenge to upgrade. Professor Kong’s team has grafted AR glass technology into the WalkOn Suit that one of his pilots put on for the torch relay of the PyongChang Paralympics in 2018. His team is now upgrading the WalkON Suit 4.0 for next year’s competition. Severance Rehabilitation Hospital will help the seven pilots with their training. Professor Kong said his goal is to make robots that can make people with disabilities much more independent. He stressed, “Wearable robots should be designed for each single user. We provide a very good graphical user interface so that we can design, check, and also verify our optimized design for users’ best performance.” (Seven pilots and Professor Kong (fifth from left in second row) pose with guests who joined the Cybathlon 2020 kickoff ceremony. President Shin (fifth from right) made a congratulatory remarks during the ceremony.)
Efficiently Producing Fatty Acids and Biofuels fro..
Researchers have presented a new strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels that can transform glucose and oleaginous microorganisms into microbial diesel fuel, with one-step direct fermentative production. The newly developed strain, created by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee and his team, showed the highest efficiency in producing fatty acids and biodiesels ever reported. It will be expected to serve as a new platform to sustainably produce a wide array of fatty acid-based products from glucose and other carbon substrates. Fossil fuels, which have long been energy resources for our daily lives, are now facing serious challenges: depletion of their reserves and their role in global warming. The production of sustainable bio-based renewable energy has emerged as an essential alternative and many studies to replace fossil fuels are underway. One of the representative examples is biodiesel. Currently, it is mainly being produced through the transesterification of vegetable oils or animal fats. The research team engineered oleaginous microorganisms, Rhodococcus opacus, to produce fatty acids and their derivatives that can be used as biodiesel from glucose, one of the most abundant and cheap sugars derived from non-edible biomass. Professor Lee’s team has already engineered Escherichia coli to produce short-chain hydrocarbons, which can be used as gasoline (published in Nature as the cover paper in 2013). However, the production efficiency of the short-chain hydrocarbons using E. coli (0.58 g/L) fell short of the levels required for commercialization. To overcome these issues, the team employed oil-accumulating Rhodococcus opacus as a host strain in this study. First, the team optimized the cultivation conditions of Rhodococcus opacus to maximize the accumulation of oil (triacylglycerol), which serves as a precursor for the biosynthesis of fatty acids and their derivatives. Then, they systematically analyzed the metabolism of the strain and redesigned it to enable higher levels of fatty acids and two kinds of fatty acid-derived biodiesels (fatty acid ethyl esters and long-chain hydrocarbons) to be produced. They found that the resulting strains produced 50.2, 21.3, and 5.2 g/L of fatty acids, fatty acid ethyl esters, and long-chain hydrocarbons, respectively. These are all the highest concentrations ever reported by microbial fermentations. It is expected that these strains can contribute to the future industrialization of microbial-based biodiesel production. “This technology creates fatty acids and biodiesel with high efficiency by utilizing lignocellulose, one of the most abundant resources on the Earth, without depending on fossil fuels and vegetable or animal oils. This will provide new opportunities for oil and petroleum industries, which have long relied on fossil fuels, to turn to sustainable and eco-friendly biotechnologies,” said Professor Lee. This paper titled “Engineering of an oleaginous bacterium for the production of fatty acids and fuels” was published in Nature Chemical Biology on June 17. This work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Changes on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries from the Ministry of Science and ICT through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea (NRF-2012M1A2A2026556 and NRF-2012M1A2A2026557). (Figure: Metabolic engineering for the production of free fatty acids (FFAs), fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs), and long-chain hydrocarbons (LCHCs) in Rhodococcus opacus PD630. Researchers have presented a new strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels that can transform glucose and oleaginous microorganisms into microbial diesel fuel, with one-step direct fermentative production.) # # # Source: Hye Mi Kim, Tong Un Chae, So Young Choi, Won Jun Kim and Sang Yup Lee. Engineering of an oleaginous bacterium for the production of fatty acids and fuels. Nature Chemical Biology ( https://www.nature.com/nchembio/ ) DOI: 10.1038/s41589-019-0295-5 Profile Dr. Sang Yup Lee leesy＠kaist.ac.kr Distinguished Professor at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering KAIST