UST, the Turning Point of My Life

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  • Registration Date : 2020-06-10
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Story about Student

UST, the Turning Point of My Life

Go Eun-sol (Dual Master’s and PhD program, UST-Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) School of Advanced Device Engineering Major)

When a German mechanical engineer and physicist discovered X-rays 120 years ago, the medical and science field experienced exponential growth. However, the X-ray, with its limitation, has its own struggle. The list includes the operation method of X-ray sources that have been used for over 120 years, the risk of unnecessary radiation exposure and the poor image clarity and inspection time. The research team at ETRI, led by Dr. Song Yun-ho, solved this problem that has been present for such a long time. They digitized the operational method of X-ray sources for the first time in history, which minimized exposure to radiation as well as improved the quality of images. Hearing the news itself was delightful, but when we heard the UST students were part of this historical achievement, we headed to ETRI to meet with one of them.

The Moment Research Makes Our Life Better

When the spring weather has been spreading, we visited ETRI’s Advanced Device Lab. There are 3 students―Go Eun-sol, Ahn Yu-jeong and Lee Jeong-woong―who participated in the research “Commercializing X-ray Sources with Minimized Exposure to Radiation.” All 3 students entered the school around the same time and have been taking the path of becoming a researcher together. Their time is beautiful and more enjoyable because they are together, helping each other.

Not all of them were available for the interview this time, but we were able to have a conversation with Go Eun-sol and share the story of her research and goals in her life.

The existing X-ray source generator uses a heat electron source that generates electrons by applying heat of 2,000℃ to the filament. The downside of this includes the fact that it’s difficult to accurately turn on and off for a very short time and it can’t be miniaturized because it uses thermionic emission. However, the field emission electron source based on carbon nanotubes is different. The field emission electron source can be controlled at a speed 10,000 times faster than that of the thermal electron source, which means it’s possible to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure. In addition, it can enhance the image quality and reduce the size and weight.

The field emission electron source has many advantages, but it also requires a lot of research. Among them, I am conducting research on how to increase the lifespan of field emission electron sources.

The ideal carbon nanotube has the highest aspect ratio and is thermally and chemically stable, which is the most important quality in the field emission electron source. It’s also excellent in electrical conduction. However, the carbon nanotube has a structural defect, which can generate heat when electrons travel through the carbon nanotube in electron emission. Excessive amounts of heat could possibly take place in this process, which sequentially causes desorption and deterioration and eventually impacts the lifespan of a carbon nanotube. In addition, since carbon nanotubes are organic, they are vulnerable to vacuum atmospheres such as moisture and oxygen. Therefore, Go is working on a method to improve the lifespan of a carbon nanotube-based field emission electron source.

Go experienced technology transfer as soon as she joined the school in 2015. She said it was such a meaningful experience for her because she witnessed her research having positive impact on our lives.

Not so long after I entered the school, what our team was working on was transferred to an enterprise. And soon afterwards, a portable dental X-ray generating device was produced which was later actually used at dental clinics. It’s also been exported to other countries. This whole process and experience made me realize that my own research can practically be applied to real lives. My attitude to research has become more serious after this experience.

Power of Knowing My Position

Go recalls UST as the turning point of her life. Since she was able to have a meaningful experience, everything about her has changed from small habits to her attitude towards research and study. Caring advice from her academic advisor Professor Song Yoon-ho and other friends at school was also a factor to this change. Go especially recalls Professor Song’s advice that he often shares with other students the most.

Professor Song always told us about ‘positioning.’ He said that when you start your career in society, you have to value your relationship with others and have to wisely judge what your position is to figure out an appropriate behavior in a certain situation. Being UST student means you have to play multiple roles of a researcher and a student, which means we have to accomplish a research project and study and do experiment at the same time. For that reason, Professor Song’s advice felt all the more relatable.

Advanced Device Engineering Department, where she belongs, has more social meetings than other departments. Everyone tries to spend as much time as possible from these meetings like New Year’s parties, graduation ceremonies, welcome parties for freshmen, new semester parties, group trips, homecoming day, year-end parties, etc. Among many events, her favorite is a group trip where she can communicate and interact with people she doesn’t see often at school.

Everyone at the lab enjoys communication, which naturally creates a tight relationship. For that reason, there was no dropout or transfer among all 6 graduates and 3 current students that Professor Song has taught. It illustrates how close everyone is to each other at UST.

While having discussion on her life at UST that began in 2015, we learned how attitude can lead our lives in the most positive direction. It was a meaningful interview for us. Three students, Go Eun-sol, Ahn Yu-jeong and Lee Jeong-woong, are encouraging each other and having the most productive school life. We hope they continue dreaming and achieve their goals.