Kim Lab – Ultrasound Research Group
Hyung Ham Kim (Convergence IT Engineering)
Sound waves create music between the frequency ranges of 20~20,00Hz that the human ear is able to detect. Music has the ability to positively impact our emotions and can even heal the wounded heart. Is it then any wonder that ultrasonic waves beyond the range of human hearing can help heal human conditions and illnesses? In fact, ultrasonic waves are able to provide doctors with a visual representation of a patient’s body while generating high-frequency waves to help in the treatment of disease.
The Ultrasound Research Group, headed by Professor Hyung Ham Kim at the Department of Convergence IT Engineering, POSTECH, harnesses ultrasonic waves to compose audibly undetectable music and create musical instruments that can be used to treat patients. Researchers at the Lab design and fabricate transducers that transform electrical signals into acoustic ones, and develop medical ultrasonic imaging devices and therapeutic technologies that use the ultrasonic waves generated by these transducers. They also leverage acoustic tweezers that can trap cells through the concentration of high-frequency ultrasonic waves that allow them to analyze the characteristics of the target cells.
Professor Kim’s Lab uses its very own transducers to develop a number of systems that perform both imaging and therapy simultaneously. The Lab also developed a device that can be attached to the human body and which is capable of observing the blood flow of the carotid artery: this device uses ultrasonic waves to analyze the blood flowing through the blood vessel to monitor blood clots and identify the kinetic state of red blood cells. When attached onto the surgery site of patients who have just undergone operations, this device can also observe whether the blood is flowing smoothly and predict the speed in which the patient will recover.
Another device developed at the Lab is a high-frequency acoustic tweezer that traps and characterizes cells through ultrasonic waves. By concentrating ultrasonic waves in the water, researchers are able to trap cells in the water, while moving them around and applying pressure on them. The physical properties of cells identified as such can be applied to a variety of fields. For instance, isolating and observing cancer cells will allow researchers to observe to what extent these cells spread to other tissues.
Professor Kim points out device design capabilities as one of the strengths of his Lab. The Lab is equipped with the necessary devices to design and fabricate specialized transducers to fulfill any targeted need. Therefore, the Lab can leverage such capabilities to allow virtually anyone with the power to manifest their ideas into actual outcomes. The Lab succeeded in developing a transparent ultrasonic transducer that combines ultrasonic waves with the optical devices used for medical diagnoses. Another notable achievement is the development of a transducer that is lead-free and therefore mitigates any lead-related health concerns in its operations.
First and foremost, researchers at the Lab are interested in how ultrasonic waves can be applied to real-life medical situations. Their commitment to research remains as steadfast as ever to create a top-notch ultrasonic transducer research center recognized the world over, and to translate the technology gained to create medical devices that can be readily applicable in actual healthcare settings.
Head of Lab