The story of robots with living cells and touches similar to those of humans has been popular over the movies and novels. Many SF movies tell the stories of robots that cure people suffering from injuries. Recently, such technology has been coming alive. What we once dreamed of are now part of our daily lives. Wherein lie the possibilities and limitations of the nano technology? The Sogang Herald met Professor Jung-woo Choi, national authority in the field of nano technology.
1. Tell us about your field of study.
My field is nano bio, and more specifically the nano bio electron element. I am mostly interested about the nano bio electronic chip and nano cell chip. You probably have not heard the term nano bio electronic chip. Electron movements are studied and then put to work as robot motors. My representative work is bio hybrid robot, which was the work with the Harvard University. The fundamentals of the robot are simple. First, you make cells that respond to light – they react to light by opening up and close with the absence of light. Therefore, the cells work as a transistor. Then a machine is connected to the cell, enabling it to operate without any outside power source like electricity. We live in the generation where robots are cultivated in incubation rooms, not manufactured in factories. You are probably unfamiliar with nano cell chips as well. The nano cell chip broadly implies nano technology used to control cells. This technology is widely used, including ingredient analysis, poison analysis, and even selection of new drugs. If we take the technology one step further, we could create a nano organ chip. This network enabled by the combination of 3D technology and nano technology. Its shape would be different from the real organs, yet they are functionally similar. We are currently working on make some part of the brain into a nano organ chip. Our next step would be a nano human chip, achievable with connection of many individual organ chips. Although it may sound futuristic, the feat is theoretically possible with artificial intelligence.
2. How can the nano technology change our lives?
Our dreams may come true – my works have proven that the nano diagnosis chip will be generalized. Currently, when you want to get a diagnosis, you have to get your blood drawn or take a urine examination by a doctor. Now, with nano diagnosis chip, you can get the same diagnosis minus the pain and even feelings altogether. Nano diagnosis will contribute faster diagnosis of prostate cancer and myocardial infarction, etc. Also, we can now contract and examine the circulation cancer stem cell, which eventually grows into cancer if left to float in blood. Controlling such cells with nano technology may prevent them from getting cancerous.
3. Tell us how you developed the area of nano bio technology.
Nano bio is fascinating. At first, one may wonder if it is even possible. It is one thing to be theoretically possible and another to make it real. Korean government have a tendency to prioritize stabilization investment, but the nano bio technology is one that does not show its growth dramatically. Therefore, there few investments for nano bio technology in Korea. On the other hand, the United States and Europe give many tries because they look forward to the value nano techonology will hold in near future. Failures are possible, even to be expected, yet once they succeed, human life would be forever changed. There is a saying that Nano bio technology is a study to wait. We have to wait at least ten years for invention of a new medicine, and nano technology is not much different. Waiting is hard – sure; yet if we steer away from investing on new technology, we will always remain as followers. That is why I strongly believe that the Nano technology should be considered important as a field of investment.
4. Could you say something for the students of Sogang?
Integration of different studies requires width as well as depth of study. Open-mindedness and a spirit of challenge are key. Do your best and be enthusiastic even when the results remain intangible. You may fail. But all the trials and errors will be your foundation. I always have some feelings that Sogangers have an inferiority complex. In my opinion, those who make it into Sogang are very smart. They could do anything if they put their mind to it, yet they fail to see their own potential.
Of course, our society is now in the state of confusion. The former president Park-Geun hae had been impeached, and many issues are going around about Samsaung, Soon sil Choi, Yoora Chung… and more. I know that many students had been participating in the candlelight vigil and civil movement held in Gwanghwamoon. However, back when I was a student, our society was even worse. People joined demonstrations and the police arrested students. In the afternoon, every student participated in the movement for democracy. Do you think they shouted for their rights at evenings as well? Absolutely not. Some time was always spared for study alone. I remember studying at nights, here at Loyola Library. Therefore, I do not think it is the proper excuse that you cannot study because the society is in the state of confusion. Same goes for the professors who complain about support and funding. One paves one’s own path. Nobody else can do it for you. If you study instead of complaining, then you can become the best at your area of interest. I hope everyone believe that they that they can change the world with their own effort.