Wearable devices have taken over the IT industry. Research on next-generation batteries has expanded with the rapid growth of the wearable market. Amidst new trends such as longer battery life and increasing demand for diverse form factors, a new technology developed by KAIST is expected to create a new paradigm in the wearable market. The mastermind behind this innovative idea is Professor Jang Wook Choi.
“Getting an objective evaluation from others is more important than evaluating your own technology.”
Acquiring an in-depth understanding of materials
After majoring in chemical engineering at Seoul National University, Professor Choi conducted basic research on materials chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. Thanks to this strong foundation, Professor Choi was able to acquire an in-depth understanding of materials. Since joining KAIST, he has emerged as a pioneer in battery research.
“My strong foundation has allowed me to enjoy a broader depth in the understanding and application of materials. This is extremely helpful in my research on batteries.”
Responding to the latest trends
IT devices are constantly being upgraded to keep up with the latest trends. In the 90s, IT devices became more highly-integrated and smaller in size. In the 2000s, they were integrated with wireless connectivity. The keyword today is “wearable.” The demand for wearable devices has led to greater competition for efficient, scaled components, and in the wearable market batteries are expected to be the key to success.
“Lithium ion secondary batteries had to be more flexible if they were to power wearable devices. Commonly used secondary cells cannot bend or stretch. To overcome these disadvantages, I combined stacking technology and external materials to improve the flexibility of secondary batteries.”
Getting closer to technology commercialization
What are the chances of research having full practical value in the market? This is a question faced by many researchers. The larger the scale of the research, the more impossible it is for the results to have direct applications. This is because larger scale involves more unexpected variables. For research achievements to be realized in the commercial market, researchers also have to improve economic feasibility and efficiency. These are issues to be addressed by Professor Choi. In the year ahead, he plans to achieve both economic feasibility and efficiency through optimization
“It is difficult for technology created in the laboratory to have practical value in reality, mainly due to the high costs involved. Researchers must conduct research while considering economic feasibility and efficiency. These are major challenges for me as well. If these issues can be resolved in the next year, I will be able to commercialize the technology by the end of 2016.”
Conditions for entrepreneurial success
Excellence is not the only factor that determines entrepreneurial success. Another important factor is the ability to attract the necessary investments for technology commercialization. The Institute for Startup KAIST encourages entrepreneurs by matching experts to start-up companies. Professor Choi was matched with Global Expansion Laboratory’s Professor Jinwoo Lee, and received professional advice on marketing and investment acquisition.
“For entrepreneurial success, getting an objective evaluation from others is more important than evaluating your own technology. This is also very important in determining market demand. You can minimize trial-and-error by seeking professional advice on non-technical aspects such as marketing and investments.”
Leading change with effort and confidence
“Now that my research has been successfully commercialized, I have gained confidence to deliver more to the world. I hope to enhance the practical value of other projects through commercialization.”
The transformation of theory into practical technology is the highest achievement that researchers can hope for. Professor Choi has invested considerable efforts to bring his ideas to materialization, and he has been rewarded with confidence of future success. With his determination and renewed belief, Professor Choi will continue to change the world for the better.