Hyunwoo Yuk, 27--Doctoral student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Yuk and his colleagues are researching biocompatible, mechanically robust hydrogels that can adhere to many kinds of materials, including ceramics, rubbers, metals, and glasses. The researchers created a hydrogel that is 90% water yet offer very strong adhesion--Yuk noted that the strength of bonding "even exceed[s] naturally occurring strong adhesion like tendon-bone interfaces."
The research is helping solve the complexity of combining hydrogels with other engineering systems and should expand use of hydrogels for biomedical applications.
What's next--in his own words: "Our findings are currently at the laboratory level and proof-of-concept stage. But we are actively seeking collaborations with many research groups and companies to further advance our technique and approach into more functional and tangible applications. For instance, we are trying to advance our technique and material system into better neural probes, wound dressing, skin adhesives, and so on."
What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator? "Actually, [my] case is not special here at MIT. This place is amazingly crowded with smart and enthusiastic people. I think the collaborative environment, rich resources, and connection at MIT is making this place a spawning pool for new ideas and innovations. Including our own contributions, we have seen numerous groundbreaking discoveries and innovations across all scientific and engineering disciplines on a weekly basis. It is really strong motivation to see how people suggest and develop new ideas to make the world a better place on a daily basis."
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?"Nowadays, most technological innovation requires a high level of multi-disciplinary research. Personally, learning diverse knowledge from wide sectors of science and engineering, and combining them into a single solution to address a specific problem was a greatly challenging process. For instance, I studied soft robotics during my undergraduate years but learned about soft biomaterials like hydrogels after I started my study at MIT as a graduate student. Although interdisciplinary study is always challenging, I think its fruit is big and sweet as it opens unforeseen opportunities by mixing starkly different knowledge and pushes our imagination and effort into previously uncharted realms of technology."
|[Image courtesy of HYUNWOO YUK]|