Student Success Story

Research on piezoelectric/triboelectrification material using biocompatible/mimetic biomolecule

Prof. Joohyeok LEE, DGIST

“Research on developing a material with Triboelectric or Piezoelectric nature”

Professor Joohyeok LEE, who became an assistant professor of Dept. of Energy Engineering at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (hereafter DGIST) originally graduated from SKKU (undergraduate and SAINT doctorate degree) and then moved to America to finish research program at UC Berkeley. At DGIST, he is researching on the topic of “energy harvesting”, which is one of the sources of new renewable energy. Energy Harvesting is the next generation’s energy conversion technology that converts energies from machine, heat and light into electric energy.

Prof. Sangwoo KIM’s research team in SKKU is Korea’s first and one of world’s most famous research group in the area of energy harvesting. Prof. Joohyeok LEE was part of Prof. Sangwoo KIM’s team during his combined master’s and doctorate program. He was able to produce many good results in the research team. DGIST acknowledged his experience in publishing famous theses and appointed him to the professorship. His research work on applying biomolecule to energy harvesting technology at UC Berkeley had a big influence as well. 

The research on a new non-depletable renewable energy source is inevitable to prepare the exhaustion of fossil energy. Researchers of energy engineering pursue continual research and practical study. Prof. Joohyeok LEE is researching on increasing efficiency and effective use of renewable energy such as solar energy, biofuel, fuel cell, secondary battery and energy harvesting. This research area has many potential considering the fact that the issue on energy will continue to rise in the future. 

Among the specific research areas of energy harvesting, Prof. LEE is researching on the conversion of mechanical energy.There are numerous mechanical energies that are being wasted around us such as wind, ocean wave, cars and the vibration of machines. The muscular movement in our body is also a source of mechanical energy. The heart beats and movement of blood flow can be a source of mechanical energy. Mechanical energy can be converted to electric energy with the piezoelectric or triboelectric generating elements. Energy generating elements can be used as power source of developing electronic devices without battery such as wearable device, IoT sensor and body implantable devices. Prof. LEE is working on developing a material with piezoelectric or triboelectric nature to convert mechanical energy to electric energy.

Recently, he has been focusing on developing piezoelectric/triboelectric material that can be applied in implantable devices.

Prof. Joohyeok LEE is continuing the joint research with Prof. Sangwoo KIM at SKKU even after his appointment at DGIST. This is possible because Prof. LEE is well aware of the equipments and research area of SKKU.

“Working with great scholars like Prof. Sangwoo KIM is a good experience for young researchers like myself”. Prof. LEE expressed that SKKU has an excellent research infrastructure to help students and professors in research. He also mentioned that there are many talented professors in various areas for joint research.

“I think the university provides many support in conducting research. Graduate students are motivated since they are rewarded for a good result.”

Prof. LEE became a post-doctorate researcher at UC Berkeley after finishing his doctorate degree and began dreaming of becoming a professor. He went straight to the states after graduation because it is mandatory to have a post-doctorate research experience in his major. At the Dept. of Life Sciences. UC Berkeley, he learned about biomolecule materials and applied this knowledge to energy harvesting technology to lead a new research. He said that his experience at UC Berkeley was valuable because he was able to interact and share knowledge with erudite scholars from all over the world.

“At SKKU, there is a program that provides financial support to post-doctorate researchers for one year. I was selected this program in 2016 to receive my degree and found my position at UC Berkeley as a post-doctorate researcher. Thanks to this I was able to research and stay at Berkeley with my family without worrying about the high living costs.”

Prof. LEE gained a lot from the achievements of previous researchers. He hopes that his research work will also benefit other researchers in the future. He wants to achieve a research work that can act as a bridge connecting the past and future.

“I see that most of SKKU students are wanting to go abroad to a better university for their Ph.D. program. I would like to advise the students to choose their path not based on the title of the university but on the availability of a good research group. SKKU has one of the best group of professors in Korea and the world. There are many excellent students who have graduated under the guidance of those scholars. Recently, SKKU has received high reputation in the world. I believe that students no longer need to go abroad or to another university to conduct a good research.”