Materials Science Postdoc Takes Home Top Poster Prize
A postdoctoral researcher working on soft functional electronic human machine interfacing (HMI) devices with the Yu Research Group at the University of Houston won first place for the best poster award at the 2018 “Materials Today: The Future of Materials Science in the Next Two Decades” conference. It was sponsored by the Materials Today journal and Rice University.
Kyoseung Sim, who was a doctoral candidate at the time of the competition, entered his poster, titled “Sol-gel-on-polymer processed oxide semiconductor nanomembrane-based soft unnoticeable electronics for wearable human machine interfaces,” which showcased his multi-functional, ultra-thin, mechanically imperceptible and stretchable electronic devices based on solution processed indium zinc oxide (IZO).
“I like science fiction movies and I want some amazing things in movies to come true,” Sim said. “So I want to take the lead in the cutting-edge of such technologies to make human life more convenient and enjoyable.”
He is working on developing materials and manufacturing processes for soft and curvilinear electronics that can be used for wearable, skin-mountable electronics and even direct organ mountable electronics.
Wearable HMI-based assistive devices, one of today’s hottest technologies, are still relatively immature in design, development and efficiency. The multi-functional aspect includes everything from data storage to health monitoring to temperature control.
However, technology for HMI devices currently tend to be bulky, uncomfortable and problematic. There are issues with temperature incompatibility, low scalability and limited interface capabilities and functions. Moreover, multi-functional devices require complex fabrication and that entails high cost.
Sim developed his IZO-based imperceptible and stretchable electronics to address these existing challenges. “The IZO semiconductor nanomembrane-based ultra-thin stretchable electronics comes with many advantages,” he said. “Such as multi-functionality, simple manufacturing based on one-step formation, imperceptible wearing and robust interfacing.”
The idea is for HMI devices to be worn by humans as part of daily life and also to be used as prosthetic skin for robotics to offer intelligent feedback to form a closed-loop HMI system.
“Our sol-gel-on-polymer processed soft functional electronic devices pave the way towards low-cost, efficiently-manufactured, wearable HMI devices capable of seamless and robust interfacing with the wearer,” Sim said. “This level of development would allow the wearable HMI device to become a vital technology with enhanced functionalities, capabilities, comfort and convenience.”
Sim earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the Cullen College of Engineering in August 2018. His advisor was Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering.
“All our research achievements couldn’t be attained without our group effort as well as Professor Yu’s guidance,” Sim said.