Each morning a professional woman picks up a scarf in a hurry without searching through her closet, since she can change the color of her clothes by pushing a button. An office worker is wearing the wrong outfit for an official event, but can instantly be dressed in formal attire by typing a preferred design into a window inside the clothes.
The story is not part of some episode of a sci-fi cartoon. It is about the world that people will face soon, and it is not about a vague future but a reality becoming clearer bit by bit through scientific and technological advances.
Kim Sang-wook, professor of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST, and a winner of the Science and Engineering Award this month, is one of the scientists who is trying to make the cartoon-like story a reality. He won the prize by developing a method to change the nature of next-gen carbon materials. His research has increased the possibility of carbon materials to be used in clothes, and has contributed to a big change that is likely to happen in the future.
Professor Kim conducted various experiments in solar cells and batteries, and found that it is possible to get a much more advanced new material using his own techniques. Since 2012, he has been involved in research and development of new materials for clothes at the KOLON-KAIST LifeStyle Innovation Center, in partnership with KOLON.
The professor remarked, “Thirty years ago, the notion that people would carry their phone sounded like a science-fiction story. But it became reality,” adding, “In 20-30 years, people will be able to change the design or color of their clothes, since batteries and sensors will be embedded in them.”
The research findings were published online early this year in a special edition of Advanced Materials, a weekly scientific journal covering materials science.