Bio Optics and Acoustics Lab
Kim, Chulhong (Creative IT Engineering)
We all know that if we see lightening, we will likely hear thunder just a few seconds later. This is due to the ‘photoacoustic effect’: substances in the trail of lightening absorb the light, and expand as the light turns into heat, generating sound waves as a result. Scientists have harnessed this principle to generate high-precision ultrasonic waves to enable us to look inside the human body.
The Bio Optics & Acoustics (BOA) Laboratory headed by professor Kim, Chulhong at the Department of Creative IT Engineering, POSTECH, is committed to the development of such optoacoustic technology. Photoacoustic imaging can be compared to sending a flash of lightening through the body to enable medical professionals a thorough observation of a patient’s status, and such imaging greatly aids in the early diagnostics of cancer. The Lab is accelerating its endeavors for equipment development as this technology can be directly combined with low-price sonography and thus is readily applicable to a range of clinical settings. Recently, researchers at the Lab have shifted their focus to harnessing the power of AI-based ultrasonic and photoacoustic technology to develop next-generation medical imaging technology and commercialize this technology through clinical testing.
Optoacoustic technology is an advanced version of conventional ultrasound technology. While ultrasonography produces and delivers ultrasonic waves and then uses the generated signals to identify the structural properties of the targeted object, photoacoustic imaging projects laser pulses instead into the human body and then measures these pulses to maximize its sensitivity. Furthermore, photoacoustic imaging can diagnose a medical condition with no further diagnostics, whereas conventional sonography inevitably depends on such follow-up diagnostics as computerized tomography scans (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that are costly and require exposure to radiation.
Building upon its decade-long research activities, the BOA Lab is producing noteworthy outcomes across diverse sectors. One prime example is the study published at the ‘Nature Nanotechnology’ on the development of photoacoustic imaging devices that could replace gastroscopy. Another article featured in the internationally-renowned journal ‘Light: Science & Applications’ last year unveiled the idea of super-resolution imaging technology that enables the clear and vivid visualization of various types of cancer and the intricate network of subcutaneous blood and lymphatic vessels.
The Lab is involved in the entire process of medical imaging equipment development from ideation and development to clinical application and commercialization. The emerging AI technology has further broadened its research scope as it allows researchers to push beyond the physical limitations of the established systems. Scientists at the BOA Lab stand together in solidarity to maximize their potential and promptly heed the call for any shifts in the future technology landscape while steadily developing the equipment and software that successfully meets the moment of our times.
Head of Lab