Research Stories

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  • Overcoming the limitations of antitumor immunotherapy by developing K-nanoadjuvant SKKU Advanced Institute of Nano Technology
    Seung Mo Jin, Yeon Jeong Yoo

    Research Stories 기본이미지
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    Discovery of Photovoltaically Top-performing Perovskite Crystal Facets Chemical Engineering
    Prof. PARK, NAM-GYU

    Discovery of Photovoltaically Top-performing Perovskite Crystal Facets

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  • SAINT 임용택 교수 연구팀, 동력학적으로 작동하는 면역 기능 조절 약물(K-nanoadjuvant) 세계 최초 개발
    Prof. Yong Taik Lim’s Research Team (SAINT) Developed the World’s First K-nanoadjuvant

    Prof. Yong Taik Lim’s Research Team (SAINT) Developed the World’s First K-nanoadjuvant Prof. Yong Taik Lim’s research team (SAINT) developed the world’s first kinetically activating nanoadjuvant (K-nanoadjuvant), which enables therapeutic immune cells to generate effective antitumor immunity without exhaustion. The research results were published in Nature Nanotechnology (IF: 39.213), a world-renowned academic journal in the field of multidisciplinary science. Various drugs capable of effective innate immune induction, such as toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists, have been developed throughout the history of oncology. Although these drugs contribute to immune activation, they also cause immunotoxicity and exhaustion of immune cells, resulting in ineffective cancer immunotherapy overall. To address these issues, Prof. Lim's team designed a nanoliposome-based novel TLR7/8a (timely activating TLR7/8 agonist; t-TLR7/8a) for the first time and revealed the efficacy of K-nanoadjuvant fabricated in combination with various TLR agonists. A nanoliposome-based K-nanoadjuvant is a novel immune function-modulating platform that not only maximizes immune cell activation but also overcomes immune cell exhaustion induced by excessive immune responses. Such effect was achieved by coordinating optimized time, order, and combinatorial code of two different immunostimulants with different mechanisms of action which induce different signal transduction routes. K-nanoadjuvant solves the problem of current immunostimulants and has a high potential for clinical application, as previous research has proven the safety of nanoliposome-based platforms in the human body. Researchers expect K-nanoadjuvant to be applied to immune checkpoint inhibitors unresponsive patient group, the latest anticancer therapeutic drug, and can be used as a next-generation anticancer therapeutic drug that can prevent recurrence/metastasis. ※ Paper Title: A nanoadjuvant that dynamically coordinates innate immune stimuli activation enhances cancer immunotherapy and reduces immune cell exhaustion ※ Journal: Nature Nanotechnology


  • 크리스탈 패싯에 숨겨진 비밀을 찾다 – 페로브스카이트 태양전지 수분 안전성 획기적 향상
    Unveiling the Hidden Secrets to Crystal Facets–Perovskite Solar Cell Stability against Moistures Improved Dramatically

    Unveiling the Hidden Secrets to Crystal Facets – Perovskite Solar Cell Stability against Moistures Improved Dramatically - Discovered the most stable facet (111) against moistures, posted exclusively on US weekly scientific journal, Science - Prof. Nam Gyu Park’s research team, the first to discover Perovskite Crystal Facet (exposed side of crystal) stable against humidity - Maintaining more than 95% of initial efficiency in 2000 hours of moisture exposure experiment ▲ (from the left) Prof. Nam-Gyu Park, Prof. Seok Jun Kwon, Prof. Michael Grätzel, Dr. ChunQing Ma Prof. Nam-Gyu Park, (SKKU Department of Chemical Engineering Chair and Institute of Sungkyun Energy Science Technology Director, corresponding author) and Dr. ChunQing Ma (first author), cooperated with Prof. Seok Jun Kwon (SKKU Department of Chemical Engineering, co-corresponding author), and Prof. Michael Grätzel (Switzerland École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) to announce their research result about their success in the discovery of stability against moisture depending on Perovskite* Crystal Facets**, producing the film with the most humidity-stable facet (111) and, finally the developing the solar cell that maintained 95% of its original capacity during 2000 hours of humidity exposure experiment on journal Science, January 13th (local time). * Perovskite: Crystal with chemical formula ABX3. In the crystal, A and X have 12-fold coordination while B and X have 6-fold coordination. ** Crystal Facet: The geometrically flat side of a crystal that has a patterned structure of atom arrangement. Perovskite solar cells are solar cell technologies that include organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite light-absorbing materials. In 2012, Prof. Park’s research team first developed a solid Perovskite Solar Cell with 9.7% efficiency, pioneering a new academic field called ‘Perovskite Photovoltaics’. Due to this Perovskite Solar Cell development research credits, Clarivate nominated him for the 2017 Novel Prize candidate. The perovskite light absorption layer for solar cells can be manufactured at a relatively low temperature of 150°C or less using a simple solution process. When a generally known solution process is used, perovskite crystals have polycrystalline properties in the formed film, and crystal facets are not well developed. Prof. Park’s research team succeeded in producing perovskite films with well-developed (100) and (111) crystal facets using additive methods, revealing the photoelectric current dependence according to the facets. In this study, for the first time, they found that moisture stability depends on the facet when the perovskite film is exposed to moisture. In particular, (100) facets are very vulnerable to moisture, but (111) facets are found to be stable to moisture. Theoretical calculations have shown that (111) facets have better water stability than (100) facets because the adhesion (or wetting energy) of water is relatively low on (111) facets. Also, spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction were used to find that a strong bond with water occurs in the moisture-sensitive (100) facet, resulting in a perovskite phase transition from alpha to delta phase, resulting in loss of light absorption characteristics. Based on the investigation of the cause of the difference in moisture stability according to facets, it is necessary to develop a film composed of (111) facets to enhance the water stability of the Perovskite Solar Cell. Thus, Prof. Park used an additive called ‘Cyclohexylamine’ to create a Perovskite film of more than 98% (111) facet composition. Testing the stability against moistures under a relative humidity of 30%~40% environment for about 2000 hours (1938 hours), the results showed that solar cells with (111) facet dominant Perovskite film maintained 95% of initial efficiency. The results of this study were supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Korea Research Foundation (NRF-2021R1A3B1076723) and are expected to significantly improve the life of perovskite solar cells and contribute to commercialization. ※ Paper Title : Unveiling facet-dependent degradation and facet engineering for stable perovskite solar cells ※ Journal: Science


  • 성균나노과학기술원 전일 교수 연구팀, 빠른 속도로 빛을 검출하는 비납계 페로브스카이트 포토디텍터 개발
    Prof. Il Jeon’s Research Team (SAINT) Develops High-Speed Lead-free Perovskite Photodetector

    Prof. Il Jeon’s Research Team (SAINT) Develops High-Speed Lead-free Perovskite Photodetector - Developed Tin-based perovskite to identify noise suppression principles - Selected as the cover paper for Advanced Functional Materials ▲ Prof. Il Jeon (SAINT) / Dr. Gyu Seon Kim The domestic research team has developed lead-free perovskite material-based photodetector which can detect light much faster than conventional ones. * Perovskite: A crystal structure of a mineral found in the Ural Mountains, Russia, in 1839. Perovskite structure has high electric charge transportation and light absorption characteristics, gathering attention for its potential to be the future material for solar cells. * Photodetector: The light-detecting device in the image sensor, light sensor, etc. Prof. Il Jeon and Dr. Gyu Seon Kim’s research team (SAINT) joint with Prof. Dong Hwan Wang and Dr. Woong Sik Jang (Chung-Ang University), announced their success in implementing the passivation process on photodetector for improving the stability of perovskite thin film by suppressing noise efficiently. * Passivation: The process of passivating a film by forming a film through treatment such as using a solvent to prevent the reaction at the surface *Noise: undesired distortion of input signals such as external interference. Electric signal that impedes accurate detection. Recently, perovskite materials that can control absorbance according to their composition are in the spotlight as future-generation photosensitive materials that can replace inorganic photosensitive materials but were facing difficulties in commercialization due to the harmful effects of lead. Conventional lead-based perovskites have a relatively low binding force between lead ions and halogen ions, allowing ions to move easily in the structure, which has caused noise generation and also has been the major cause of deterioration in photodetector performance by facilitating injection of external charges. Accordingly, the joint research team succeeded in developing high-quality non-lead perovskite materials by applying passivation technology that can stably form thin films by utilizing tin materials, an ingredient that can replace lead. Unlike conventional lead-based materials, tin-based perovskite materials have shown superiority in suppressing noise generation within photodetector by limiting the movement of internal ions through the strong binding energy of tin and halogen ions. Tin based non-lead Perovskite Photodetector Structure and Noise Suppression effect due to Tin content As a result, it was possible to verify the implementation of a non-lead perovskite photodetector with the excellent photosensitive ability and fast speed by blocking the external current flow that degrades the performance. This study is expected to enable the simultaneous implementation of eco-friendly technology and performance improvement technology due to the next-generation photodetector with tin-based perovskite material. It is expected to contribute to the development of related technologies as it is expected to be applicable in the field of future photoelectric conversion devices and displays based on various perovskite materials. The research results of Prof. Jeon’s research team are published in the material field’s global academic journal, Advanced Functional Materials, on December 16th and were selected to be the cover thesis for its research excellence.


  • 생명과학과 윤환수 교수 연구팀, 극한 환경에 적응하는 홍조류의 진화적 전략 규명해
    Prof. Hwan Su Yoon’s Research Team Discovers Red Algae Evolution Strategy in Extreme Environment Adaptation

    Prof. Hwan Su Yoon’s Research Team (Department of Biological Sciences) Discovers Red Algae Evolution Strategy in Extreme Environment Adaptation - Confirmed various extreme environment adaptation procedures of Cyanidiophyceae Prof. Hwan Su Yoon (Department of Biological Sciences, corresponding author) and Dr. Chung Hyun Cho (first author), have announced the discovery of the genome evolution procedure of photosynthesis eukaryotic adaptation to extreme environment. * Eukaryon: Has a nucleus surrounded by a nuclear membrane and consists of other various cell organelles inside the cell membrane. Undergoes mitosis. All the other microorganisms other than germs and viruses belong to this group. ** Genome: The complete set of genes or genetic material information required for biological phenomena in a cell or organism. Cyanidiophyceae is the first classification to split from red algae species, ramifying from their common ancestor to adapt to extreme environments such as volcano or thermal spring. Volcano or thermal spring has high temperatures (45~60 ℃), acid concentrations (pH 0~4), and rich heavy metals, forming a harsh environment for organisms to develop in general. However, Cyanidiophyceae is the only eukaryotic organism found in this extreme environment and is the key to the evolution process of organisms that develop in harsh conditions. Living things in extreme environments are constantly exposed to various external physical and chemical stresses, which interfere with biomaterial metabolism. The research team newly decoded the genome of three kinds of Cyanidiophyceae at the chromosome level to find out how Cyanidiophyceae adapted to this environment. Genetic evolution and adaptability in heavy metal environments were analyzed through genetic comparative analysis which yielded an interesting fact that bacteria and archaea genes of various origins were found in the genome of Cyanidiophyceae. Cyanidiophyceae externally obtained a gene that neutralizes heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury from bacteria through horizontal gene transfer and later confirmed that they adapted to extreme environments by increasing the number of genes internally through subtelomeric gene duplication. * Subtelomeric Gene Duplication: Concept of genetics that refers to the transfer of genotypes from individual to individual without reproduction. Can transfer beyond the species. All key genes related to microRNA, one of the representative gene expression control mechanisms of eukaryotes in Cyanidiophyceae, have disappeared, and in addition, some of the mechanisms unnecessary for extreme environmental survival have been lost in the classification. Moreover, through the evolution process, it was confirmed that the proteins of Cyanidiophyceae were modified and adapted suitably for a high-temperature acidic environment. The genetic evolution strategy employed to adapt to the polar environment is used in all Cyanidiophyceae species, but the detailed gene and genome composition also differed among Cyanidiophyceae species. Through this study, the team suggested that the differences in genes and genomes that occurred during the speciation process affected the differences in the habitat environment of each species within their current extreme environment. Prof. Yoon said, “Cyanidiophyceae have strong vitality to adapt to extreme environments and can be used in various applications such as biological heavy metal decontamination, system/synthesis biology, genetic engineering, etc.” This research was supported by Korea Research Foundation's Mid-size Research Support and Plant Biological Rhythm Leading Research Center. The research results were published in the global academic journal Nature Communications (IF=17.694) on January 4th (Wed). ▲ Cyanidiophyceae-living Sulfur Thermal Spring water of high temperature (45~60 ℃), acidity (pH 0~4), and heavy metal content ▲ Extreme Environment Adaptation System of Cyanidiophyceae


  • 화학공학/고분자공학부 방석호 교수, 종양 제거 및 검출용 전도성 하이드로겔 개발
    Prof. Suk Ho Bhang Developed Conductive Hydrogel Customized for Tumor Detection and Removal

    Prof. Suk Ho Bhang (Department of Chemical Engineering) Developed Conductive Hydrogel Customized for Tumor Detection and Removal -Reactive oxygen species responsive hydrogel-based tumor excision technology -Wireless monitoring constructed through conductivity-based machinery and electronic control Prof. Suk Ho Bhang’s research team (Department of Chemical Engineering, first author: Gwang-Bum Im) developed reactive oxygen species responsive conductive hydrogel sensors that can be controlled mechanically and electronically as a result of joint research with Prof. Sung Young Park’s research team (Korea National University of Transportation). Tumor, or cancer, is a serious threat to human health because of its incidence and fatality rate. Early diagnosis and prevention are the global objective since detecting and excluding all kinds of malignant tissue through surgical operation possess difficulties. The conventional cancer detection technology which has its basis in tumor markers such as immunosensor or immunoassay is measured in clinical laboratories which use sophisticated techniques and thus is not suitable for clinical purposes, not to mention its excessive time in between body fluid acquirement and analysis result. Therefore, the need for a new method that can acquire detailed information fast without professional or special knowledge has been on the rise, and this research focused on a portable detection method that can selectively and accurately detect cancer environments. Hydrogel is a typical biocompatible material that has been used for biosensing due to its characteristic of adjustable pores for fluid absorption. Nanoparticle mixed conductive hydrogel especially can detect electronic signals related to various stimuli such as temperature, oxidation-reduction, pH, light, pressure, and strain. However, research focused on clinical diagnostic tests based on hydrogel that reacts to extracellular pH and reduced glutathione (GSH) is very rare in history, and research of cancer microenvironment based on pressure-strain detecting hydrogel is unprecedented. Prof. Bhang’s research team developed a tumor microenvironment selective conductive hydrogel sensor based on reactive oxygen species (ROS)-responsive carbon dot (CD)-embedded hydrogel. This sensor provides tumor selectivity by dismantling diselenide crosslinks within the ROS-rich tumor microenvironment. The existence of cancer cells can be distinguished by monitoring abnormal pressure and strain signals. Also, dsCD-Hydrogel can be used with wireless devices, allowing it to monitor hydrogel’s sensor information at the tumor-containing section and collect data using smartphones. (Figure 1) ▲ [Figure 1] Hydrogel-based sensing system that can be monitored through Prof. Bhang's smartphone The ROS scavenging activity of the dsCD-Hydrogel decreased tumor volume. Furthermore, NIR irradiation via PTT abolished the tumor, which was verified by the downregulation of tumor hypoxia by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) expression. (Figure 2) ▲ [Figure 2] Data on the elimination of active oxygen and photothermal effects in mice Prof. Bhang and Prof. Park, explained, “We will establish a hydrogel sensor system suitable for cancer treatment and furthermore confirm actual applicability for quick detection of tumors.” The research result was published online on December 5th in the globally renowned chemical engineering field academic journal, Chemical Engineering Journal (IF: 13.273). ※ Paper Title: ROS-responsive mechanically and electronically controllable conductive hydrogel sensor with NIR modulated photothermal therapy ※ Journal: Chemical Engineering Journal ※ Paper Link:


  • 신소재공학부 백정민 교수 연구팀, 열전 에너지 하베스팅 근본적 솔루션 제시
    Prof. Jeong Min Baik’s Research Team Suggests Fundamental Solution to Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting

    Prof. Jeong Min Baik’s Research Team (Dept. of Advanced Materials Science and Engineering) Suggests Fundamental Solution to Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting - Achieved World’s best Output Voltage with Frictional charge and Thermoelectric Carrier Coupling effect - Published in Energy field International Journal, Advanced Energy Materials Prof. Jeong Min Baik’s Research Team (Dept. of Advanced Materials Science and Engineering) joined with Prof. Jae Sung Son’s (Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, UNIST) research team, developed a technology that semi-permanently improves the performance of thermoelectric energy harvester through frictional charge and thermoelectric carrier coupling effect. Thermoelectric energy harvesting technology is a technology that produces energy with potential difference created by the temperature difference of a material’s bisection during external heating and is assessed to be a suitable solution to converting waste heat produced in the industrial field to sustainable energy production, having a simple structure, low maintenance cost, and high reliability as its strength. Until now, the energy conversion efficiency was minute due to contact resistance between the heat source and thermoelectric elements and the internal resistance of the elements. Moreover, optimization of the output could not be achieved because of the limits set by the material’s power factor and thus output level for commercialization was not accomplished. * Power factor: Performance index used when assessing electricity power density produced by the thermoelectric module, calculated by multiplying the square of the materials’ Seebeck coefficient by the electrical conductivity * Seebeck coefficient: Coefficients that correlate the voltage differences generated inside the material per unit temperature. Materials with a high Seebeck coefficient are known to be thermally conductive. To break through the limit mentioned above, Prof. Baik’s research team developed and attached polyimide-based material which can contain high negative charge semi-permanently at lower temperature part of BiSbTe-based thermoelectric element which has the highest ZT value (thermal conduction performance index) at room temperature and induced fusion effect with carriers inside the thermoelectric elements. Through this, they yielded 4 times the output increment compared to the existing models and achieved the world’s best output voltage (2 times the existing one). The benefit of this research is that this technology does not require external physical friction effects to create a negative charge so it can work semi-permanently. Prof. Baik said, “This study presents a new direction to improve the low output voltage and energy conversion efficiency, which are the limitations of conventional thermoelectric energy harvesting, and shows excellent performance not only for energy harvesting but also for thermoelectric cooling.” This research's result was published in December, in the energy field international academic journal ‘Advanced Energy Materials (IF: 29.698). Prof. Baik’s research team has applied for two patents related to this research and is continuing to research how to apply thermoelectric energy harvesting in various fields. This research was supported by Mid-sized Research Projects and BRIDGE R&D Projects of the Korea Research Foundation. ※ Paper Title: Boosted Output Voltage of BiSbTe-Based Thermoelectric Generators via Coupled Effect between Thermoelectric Carriers and Triboelectric Charges ※ DOI: 10.1002/aenm.202202987