2019 New Year Message from the President of POSTECH

My dear POSTECH family members,


2019, the Year of the Earth Pig (Gi-Hae-Nyeon 己亥年) has arrived. I would like to extend the sincerest of wishes for the realization of all your endeavors in the new year.


I offer my deepest gratitude to POSTECH members everywhere for your vigorous devotion in elevating our university to new heights. I am filled with anticipation towards another year where the sweat and toils of all Postechians actualize into numerous achievements for the furtherance of academia and nation.


In 2018, the first class of the Mueunjae School of Undergraduate Studies brought about exciting metamorphoses. By not restricting newly admitted students into specific departments, the novel academic policy has empowered them to freely pursue their academic passions, engage in diverse activities, and lead proactive studies. Appropriately, the foundations for strengthening social sciences and humanities were set in place as well. These undertakings will play a key role in equipping our students with a wide breadth of convergent skillsets and profound knowledge to become crucial members of society.


Furthermore, POSTECH has exerted a great deal of effort to bolster the sustainable advancement of the university. We have welcomed many new faculty members who will undoubtedly continue our tradition of research excellence. We have built bridges both with a diverse group of institutions—such as Yonsei University, Samsung Electronics, and the Korean Air Force—for in-depth collaborations, and with our local community through the establishment of the Future City Open Innovation Center to usher in the era of smart cities. This past year will also be remembered for the establishment of the 1st POSTECH Fund which will enable startups to readily enter the market and create real-world socioeconomic value. Our feats did not go unrecognized as JoongAng Ilbo recently ranked POSTECH as the most innovative university in Korea.
All this was can be attributed to the enterprising travails of every single member of POSTECH.


My proud Postechians!
It has been two years since we began our expedition towards fulfilling the Value Creating University vision. We have now taken our first steps. This vast aspiration that we seek to achieve will require tireless strivings. It is undoubtedly a difficult task, but that is exactly the reason why only POSTECH can accomplish it.


Our challenging spirit will flourish unabated through 2019. We will expand and establish a robust startup ecosystem by focusing on the strengths of POSTECH and the Jigok neighborhood. We will break ground for the Bio Open Innovation Center that will utilize the 4th generation accelerator. There will be infrastructure modernization projects that will not only renovate older buildings but also construct new facilities for the safety and comfort of Postechians. And most importantly, our greatest efforts will be expended to attract outstanding faculty members and students with boundless potentials.


Let us effectuate the quintessential role of the university through peerless education, promote a campus teeming with ideas and dreams, and pay heed to societal discourse to define and sculpt POSTECH’s next 30 years of contributing to the betterment of the nation and humanity. The future of POSTECH is the future of Korea.


May 2019 overflow with nothing but blessings and joy for all our families.
Happy New Year!


January 1, 2019


Doh-Yeon Kim
President of POSTECH

Professor Emeritus Wokyung Sung publishes the first graduate level textbook on statistical physics for biological matter



Statistical physics is a branch of physics that uses mathematical tools for dealing with large populations and approximations, such as probability theory and statistics, to solve physical problems. As such, it has allowed researchers to explain and quantitatively describe complex topics such as superconductivity, superfluidity, and turbulence.


A typical statistical physics course covers ideal gases (classical and quantum) and interacting units of simple structures. However, as the simplest of biological fluids are solutions of macromolecules, and hence, extremely complex, there is a chasm of available content to train the burgeoning young researchers of this field.


Professor Emeritus Wokyung Sung, a renowned expert in the fields of statistical physics and biological physics for over 30 years, recently published Statistical Physics for Biological Matter—the first graduate level textbook to bridge this chasm. The textbook aims to cover a broad range of topics in the field, including statistical mechanics (equilibrium and non-equilibrium), soft matter, and fluid physics for applications to biological phenomena at both cellular and macromolecular levels. The major topics covered include thermodynamics, soft matter physics of polymers and membranes, and hydrodynamics. Methods and theories are described with detailed derivations, followed by applications and examples in biology—all based on Professor Sung’s lectures at POSTECH.


Professor Sung’s illustrious career spans decades of excellence working with a variety of biological matter and processes at the mesoscopic level using statistical physics of soft matter and stochastic phenomena. His breakthrough in pioneering the theory of polymer translocation through membranes brought about an entirely new field in biological/polymer physics.

Why do people go wild for BTS? – Music Critic Lim Jin-mo Interview


Why do people go wild for BTS? – Music Critic Lim Jin-mo Interview – YouTube

POSTECH RICC – Conversation with music critic Lim Jin-mo about BTS
Why do people go wild for BTS? POSTECH Research Institute for Convergence Civilization interviewed music critic Lim Jin-mo about the impact of BTS on K-Pop and the Korean society in general.

Developing a Novel Process of Writing Integrated Circuits onto 2D Semiconductors

Semiconductors are the basis of all modern electronics—from the smallest switches in the widely prevalent personal computers and smartphones to large-area displays in various information media. The conducting properties (e.g. currents passing more easily in one direction than the other, variable resistance, etc.) of these materials are made truly useful because they may be purposely altered through doping, which is the deliberate and controlled introduction of impurity atoms into the crystal structure.


Through recent advancements in the field, two-dimensional semiconductors (natural semiconductors with thicknesses on the atomic scale) and complex electronics based on them have tantalized potentials for myriad applications such as nano-circuitry and flexible electronics, but the efficient assembly of complex 2D devices on integrated circuits requires novel scalable procedures not yet realized. Now, collaborative research led by POSTECH has successfully developed a process to directly write integrated circuits on a 2D semiconductor using visible laser.


Professor Moon-Ho Jo, from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, fabricated integrated circuits (ICs) on a 2D semiconductor (2H-MoTe2) using a self-aligned doping approach with a scanning visible light probe. The research team demonstrated that this elegant approach of programmable doping is not only accurate and reliable but also efficient. This achievement was published in Nature Electronics as an editorial selection for the celebration of the 60 years of the ICs.


The team used chemical vapor deposition and mechanical exfoliation methods to deposit metal patterns onto 2H-MoTe2 semiconductor layers and created otherwise pristine (nominally undoped) n-type semiconductors. At this point, laser was selectively scanned over the metal patterns. The team discovered that the MoTe2 channels between the illuminated contacts displayed p-type semiconductor characteristics. In other words, the team developed a reliable, controllable and efficient method of p-type doping for 2D semiconductors.


Professor Jo expressed his anticipation in applying this new approach to the development of massively parallel circuitry based on 2D semiconductors as this method allows for accurate and quick writing of 2D circuits with both n-type and p-type characteristics on the same atomic plane.


This work was supported in part by the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Professor Youngju Choie becomes the first female recipient of the KMS Prize

The Korean Mathematical Society awarded Professor Youngju Choie with the prestigious KMS Prize at the 2018 Joint Meeting of the Korean Mathematical Society and the German Mathematical Society.


Since 1982, the prize has been annually given to the top mathematician in Korea. This year’s prize is made even more notable due to the fact that Professor Choie became the first ever female recipient of the prize. Hyang-Sook Lee, the President of the Korean Mathematical Society, expressed her excitement and said, “The KMS Prize represents a lifelong dedication to excellence in mathematics. As such, I am delighted to present the prize to its first female recipient.”


After receiving her Ph.D. from Temple University, Professor Choie has been with the Department of Mathematics at POSTECH since 1990. An expert of number theory and modular forms, Professor Choie’s contributions into research of L-functions was credited for the decision to bestow the highest honor given by the Korean Mathematical Society.


Professor Choie is also a Member of the Board of Trustees of the National Research Foundation of Korea, the President of the Korean Women in Mathematical Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

Uncovering the Aging Mechanism of Boron Potassium Nitrate

Pyrotechnics—from the Greek words pyro (fire) and tekhnikos (made by art)—is the science of materials capable of self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions that produce heat, light, gas, smoke, and/or sound. Aside from spectacular fireworks displays, pyrotechnics permeate our daily lives through safety matches, automotive airbags, and military applications, among others. The mechanical applications of pyrotechnics through pyrotechnic mechanical devices (PMD) are prevalent in critical industries such as aerospace and national defense.


As the old saying ‘keep your powder dry’ goes, the proper management and maintenance of PMDs are essential not only to maximize their reliability and efficiency but also for the safety of its users. Accordingly, the aging of propellants of the PMDs is considered one of the primary factors of the performance and maintenance, but extensive research into the subject has been sparse. Now, collaborative research conducted by POSTECH and Pukyong National University has uncovered the chemistry behind the aging mechanism of Boron Potassium Nitrate (BKNO3)—one of the most commonly used commercial propellants.


PMDs, and by extension, its propellants, must have long-term stability for reliable usage whenever the situation arises. However, the aging phenomena of PMDs mean that they must be disposed periodically to minimize safety concerns in critical applications. The research team recognized the importance of shedding light on the underpinnings of the aging mechanism to increase the disposal period that would in turn lead to economic efficiency and greater safety in industries like aerospace and national defense.


Professor Taiho Park from the Department of Chemical Engineering at POSTECH and Professor Yong Sun Won from Pukyong National University used X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy to verify the formation of oxide shells on the surface of the boron particles from exposure to humidity, which in turn decreased its efficacy. This achievement was published in the world-renowned Scientific Reports.


During their investigation into the aging mechanism of BKNO3, the team was able to rule out extraneous internal factors and discovered that humidity levels affected the heat of reaction and reaction rate. Through TEM-EDS studies, they found that the thickness of the resulting oxide shells gradually increased through prolonged exposure to humidity and were reciprocally related to its efficacy.


Professor Park expressed his excitement in applying this new understanding of the aging mechanism of BKNO3 to not only broaden the understanding of PMDs, but also to increase its safety and contribute to the minimization of economic loss by prolonging their disposal period.


This work was supported in part by the Agency for Defense Development under the Precise Energy Release for the Pyrotechnic Mechanical Device program.

POSTECH GSIT Offers Korea’s First Nano-Master’s Program

Coursera and edX, the leading massive open online course platforms, offer a series of online graduate level courses that one can take to develop skills for career advancement or earn graduate level credits. It was designed to bridge the gap for working professionals to continue advancing their education without detriment to their careers. Since the credits can be transferred to shorten the time required to receive an advanced degree, the program has been a success for professionals in the United States.


Recently, POSTECH has become the first university in Korea to offer such a program through the Graduate School of Information Technology (GSIT). The initial nanodegree programs offered will be in the fields of Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence.


Select courses from GSIT’s newly established Master’s program in Blockchain and AI will be made available online, and students who complete all the requirements and attain a grading of at least 70% will receive graduate credits. The first three courses available are Introduction to Blockchain & Cryptocurrency, Smart Contracts & Applications, and Machine Learning. These 3-credit courses will be taught with the same level of academic intensity as the regular on-campus courses. In line with the Ministry of Education’s current regulations, a student may apply up to 6 credits for a Master’s degree program. As such, should the regulations expand to permit for a greater number of credits, POSTECH will likewise match the allowance.


The POSTECH GSIT provides top-notch graduate level programs for professionals and researchers through online and offline courses to meet their demanding schedules. GSIT also offers MOOC programs in Big Data, IoT, 5G Networks, and Software Development.