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Laboratory for Soft Material Nanophysics

So Youn Kim Research Group at UNIST

Principal Investigator

So Youn Kim

in 2012 at Princeton


2007 – 2011 : Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Thesis advisor : Charles F. Zukoski)
2007 – 2009 : M.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2003 – 2007 : B.S., Chemical Engineering, Seoul National University


Professional Experiences

2018 – present: Associate Professor, School of Energy and Chemical Engineering, UNIST
2014 – 2018: Assistant Professor, School of Energy and Chemical Engineering, UNIST
2012 – 2014 : Postdoctoral Research Associate, Chemical & Biological Engineering, Princeton University (under the supervision of Richard A. Register)


2012 Princeton Center for Complex Materials Fellowship
2011 Doh Wonsuk Memorial Award, the US chapter of the Korean Institute of Chemical Engineering
2010 9th Annual Graduate Research Symposium, 2nd Place Oral Presentation, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois
2009 8th Annual Graduate Research Symposium, 3rd Place Poster Presentation, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois
2008 Midwest chapter Society of Cosmetic Chemists SCC scholarship


Member of American Physical Society
Member of American Institute of Chemical Engineering
Member of the Polymer Society of Korea
Member of the Korean Institute of Chemical Engineering


We are looking for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students. Students with passions and enthusiasms towards science and engineering are welcome! If you are interested in joining “Laboratory for Soft Material Nanophysics”, please email to “soyounkim at unist.ac.kr”.


(Graduates office) +82-52-217-2616

Na Kyung Kwon

KakaoTalk_20180313_210954347Since 2015 spring

   B.S.: UNIST, Biomedical Science / Nano-chemistry Science

   Theme: Understanding the Correlation between the Microstructure and Physical Properties of Polymer Melt/Solution Using Surface Modified Particles

   e-mail: yohoo@unist.ac.kr

Ye Chan Kim

2018-03-09-17-43-13  Since 2015 spring

  B.S. : UNIST, Chemical Engineering  / Nano-chemistry Science

  theme : Self-assembly of block copolymer nanostructures and their ordering kinetics control

  tools : Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/GISAXS), high-resolution imaging (AFM/SEM), nano-fabrication (RIE/photolithography) and 2D image analysis using numerical algorithms

  e-mail : kyc3537@unist.ac.kr

Yul Hui Shim

Since 2015 Fall

  B.S. : UNIST, Nano-chemistry Science / Energy Conversion & Storage

  theme: Microstructure Control of Macroscopic Graphene Fibers using Colloidal Properties of Graphene Oxide Liquid Crystal Suspension and its Structure Change under Shear

 tools: SAXS, Rheometer, DLS, SLS, POM

  e-mail: tladbfgml@unist.ac.kr

Dong Hyup Kim

KDH_2019 APS Since 2016 Spring

 B.S. : UNIST, Chemical Engineering / Energy Conversion & Storage

 Theme : Self-assembly of block copolymers in thin films and at the air/water interface, and their combinational study

 e-mail : d.h.kim@unist.ac.kr

Sol Mi Oh

OSM  Since 2017 Spring

  B.S. : UNIST, Chemical Engineering / Energy Engineering

  theme : Microstructure and rheological properties of polymer nanocomposites changed by interfacial layers in the non-equilibrium state

  e-mail : ohsolmi0802@unist.ac.kr

Sohjin Mun

SMprofilem Since 2017 Fall

  B.S. : UNIST, Chemical Engineering / Energy Engineering

  theme : Tunable Liquid Crystallinity of Graphene Oxide by Polymer Crystallization, and Investigation of Polymer Composites through SAXS and WAXS study

  e-mail : msojin1993@unist.ac.kr

Ga Young Kim

KakaoTalk_20190401_215926344Since 2019 Spring

  B.S. : KAIST, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

  Theme : Analysis of initial state effect and microstructure difference according to the drying condition of polymer nanocomposite

  E-mail : gayoungkim@unist.ac.kr


Seung Won Kim

swkimage 2019.03 – ing

Awards and Fellowships

2019          Ye Chan Kim               Encouragement Prize, 25th Samsung Humantech Paper Award

2018          Dong Hyup Kim          Best Poster Award, ENGE 2018

2018          Yul Hui Shim               Outstanding Graduate Student Award, UNIST

2018          Ye Chan Kim               Best Paper Award, Fall Meeting of PSK

2018          Soh Jin Mun                Best Poster Award, Fall Meeting of SRPS

2018          Sol Mi Oh                     Best Poster Award, Fall Meeting of SRPS

2018          Soh Jin Mun                Excellent Paper Award, Spring Meeting of KSIEC

2017          Dong Hyup Kim          Outstanding Graduate Student Award, UNIST

2017          Yul Hui Shim               Excellent Paper Award, Fall Meeting of KSR

2017          Sol Mi Oh                     Outstanding Poster Award, Fall Meeting of IUPAC-FAPS

2017          Dong Hyup Kim          Global Ph.D. Fellowship, NRF

2016          Yul Hui Shim               Outstanding Poster Award, Fall Meeting of IUPAC-PSK40

2016          Na Kyung Kwon          Global Ph.D. Fellowship, NRF

2015          Ye Chan Kim               Soft Matter Fellowship, IBS

2015          Na Kyung Kwon          Best Poster Award, Fall Meeting of PSK

Previous Members



Young Min Seo (2014. 06 – 2014. 08)

Seung Kee Shin (2014. 06 – 2014. 08) – 동서발전

Do Hyun Lee (2014. 06 – 2014. 11)

Chang Seo Park (2014. 12 – 2015. 12) – POSTECH

Jeong Uk (2015. 07 – 2015. 12)

Min Ji Park (2015. 08 – 2015. 12) – Samsung SDI

Yu Na Shin (2015. 12 – 2016.06) – LG chem

Dong Woo Jo (2016. 02- 2016.06) – S-oil

Young Hoon Jung (2016. 06 – 2016.12)

Dong Min Oh (2016. 06 -2016.12)

Woo Jin Go (2016. 06 – 2016.12)

Min-Kyu Baek (2016.12 – 2017.06)

Soo Yeon Park (2016.12 – 2017.06)

Jun Young Lee (2017.01 – 2017.08)

Young Chae (2017.06 – 2017.12) – LG hausys

Hyeonjin Cho (2017.06 – 2017.12)

So Hyeon Lee (2017.12 – 2018.04)

Jaegeon Jo (2017.12 – 2018.06) – LG display

Woo Bin Choi (2017.12 – 2018.06)

Dae Hyeon Kim (2018.07)

Yeonggyun Choo (2018.06 – 2018.12)

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The research group is interested in understanding fundamental interactions in soft materials from the molecular level and relating them to the bulk state properties. The specialty of the group is to characterize the colloidal dispersions/microstructures in details with extensive scattering techniques and to relate them to dynamics at the interface and physical properties in bulk.

The current interests include dispersions of colloids and polymers in non-equilibrium states, interfacial properties of block copolymers and polymer nanocomposites, and dispersions of 2D colloids.

Polymer Nanocomposites


While nanoparticles and polymers are widely used materials in industrial/daily products, it can exhibit unique properties when they are combined. Our research group is interested in understanding of particle-polymer interactions and controlling the structures to produce desired properties in complex nanoparticle-polymer composites. Upon the deep understanding of structural behavior of polymer composite materials, versatile thin film and novel 3-D nanostructures can be created; a special interest lies on block copolymer related composites.

Currently, the following topics are being investigated

  • Colloids and polymer mixtures in non-equilibrium state
  • Block copolymer related nanocomposites
  • Functionalized particle-polymer composites

Graphene Oxide as Two-Dimensional Colloid

Graphene oxide (GO) is often referred as a 2D colloid, which can be dispersed in water and form nematic liquid crystal (LC) phase. The good dispersity and the ability to form the LC phase enables the solution processing of GO; thus, GO LC has been actively employed in high-performance graphene-based fibers or films applications through solution processing. While GO LC exhibits extraordinary physical properties of high mechanical strength, tunable bandgap or good electrical/thermal conductivity, the performance of GO LC applications can be dependent on their colloidal properties in solution. In this regard, we systematically study the stable dispersion of GO in polymer solutions and examine how polymer influence the microstructure and rheological properties of GO suspension.

(1) Graphene Oxide Liquid Crystallinity in Polymer Solutions


(2) The Correlation of Rheological Properties and Microstructure of GO using Rheo-SAXS


Nanopatterning with Block Copolymers

homepage update

Based on fundamental soft matter physics, we are interested in showing how soft materials can be employed in nanofabrication. More specifically, nanopatterning with block copolymers will be one of the promising applications. Since the characteristic size and spacing of block copolymer domains are on the order of 10- 100 nm, the range required by next-generation electronic and functional devices, nanopatterning with block copolymer thin films has emerged as a favorable technique. Furthermore, its distinct advantages in cost, fabrication and areal coverage are expected to overcome the shortcomings of conventional lithographic techniques.

Our focus was on

  • Film structure of Block copolymers in a confined space
  • Block Copolymer Interfacial Self-Assembly (ISA)
  • Multilayer structure with nanoparticles
  • Nano-contact printing system

Surface and Interface

1. interfacial self-assembly


Interfacial self-assembly of BCPs

2. drying in thin films


drying effect on thin films in coating process

3. polymer crystallization on Graphene Oxide surface


Tunable Liquid Crystallinity of GO by Polymer Crystallization

Going into Details for Micro- Nano- structures

1. We use small angle scatterings extensively to study the microstructure of soft matter systems listed above. Small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), small angle neutron scattering (SANS), Grazing Incidence SAXS (GI-SAXS) and light scattering (LS) are good experimental tools to study particle interactions and polymer microstructures. We are also interested in seeing their physical properties; rheological properties are examined with conventional rheometer and Diffusing Wave Spectroscopy (DWS).


2. Based on an understanding on the relationship between polymer and particle interactions, we investigate how the microstructure of the colloidal system correlates to physical properties such as optical, mechanical, and electrical properties.

we are focused on

– dispersion stability of particles/polymers

– microstructure of dispersed particles/polymers

– rheological properties of polymer nanocomposites/suspension




[Names of authors from our group are in bold type, *corresponding author, 1equal contribution]


30. Oh, S. M. et al, “Effect of initial solvent on the structure and property of polymer nanocomposites”, to be submitted.

29. Kwon, N. K. et al, “Formation and Observation of Colloidal Crystals at Very Low Nanoparticle Concentrations”, to be submitted. 


28. Kim, D. H. and Kim, S. Y.*, “Self-assembled Copolymer Adsorption Layer-Induced Block Copolymer Nanostructures in Thin Films”, submitted.

27. Kim, B., Lee, S. S., Yoo, T. H., Kim, S. , Kim, S. Y., Choi, S-H., and Kim, J. M.*, “Normal Stress Difference-driven Particle Focusing in Nanoparticle Colloidal Dispersion”, Science Advances, accepted. 

26. Kim, Y. C.,  Shin, T. J., Hur, S. M.*, Kwon, S. J.*, and Kim, S. Y.*, “ShearSolvo Defect Annihilation of Diblock Copolymer Thin Films over Large Area”, Science Advances, accepted. 


25. Shim, Y. H., Lee, K. E., Shin, T. J., Kim, S. O., and Kim, S. Y.*, “Tailored Colloidal Stability and Rheological Properties of Graphene Oxide Liquid Crystals with Polymer Induced Depletion Attractions”, ACS Nano, 2018, 12, 11399-11406. (link)

24. Kwon, N. K., Kim, H., Han, I. K., Shin, T. J., Lee, H. W., Park, J.*, and Kim, S. Y.*, “Enhanced Mechanical Properties of Polymer Nanocomposites Using Dopamine-Modified Polymers at Nanoparticle Surfaces in very Low Molecular Weight Polymers”, ACS Macro Letters, 2018, 7, 962-967. (link)

23. Kim, Y. C., and Kim, S. Y.*, “Fabrication of gold nanowires in micropatterns using block copolymers”, RSC Advances, 2018, 8, 19532-19538.(link)

22. Song, W. -J.1, Park, J.1Kim, D. H.1, Bae, S., Kwak, M. -J., Shin, M., Kim, S., Choi, S., Jang, J. -H., Shin, T. J., Kim, S. Y.*, Seo, K.*, and Park, S.*, “Jabuticaba-Inspired Hybrid Carbon Filler/Polymer Electrode for Use in Highly Stretchable Aqueous Li-ion Batteries”, Advanced Energy Materials2018, 8, 1702478 (link)


21. Gwak, G. H. Kwon, N. K., Lee, W. J., Paek, S.*,  Kim, S. Y.*, and Oh, J.*, “Controlled Crystal Growth of 2-Dimensional Layered Nanomaterials in Hydrogel via Modified Electrical Double Migration Method”, Crystal Growth & Design, 2017, 17, 6596–6602 (link)

20. Kwon, N. K., Lee, T. K., Kwak, S. K.*, and Kim, S. Y.*, “Aggregation Driven Controllable Plasmonic Transition of Silica-Coated Gold Nanoparticles with Temperature Dependent Polymer-Nanoparticle Interactions for Potential Applications in Optoelectronic Devices”, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces2017, 9, 39688−39698  (link)

19. Shim, Y. H., Lee, K. E., Shin, T. J., Kim, S. O.* and Kim, S. Y.*, “Wide Concentration Liquid Crystallinity of Graphene Oxide Aqueous Suspension with Interacting Polymers”, Materials Horizons, 2017, 4, 1157-1164. (link

18. Mun,J. H., Cha, S. K., Kim, Y. C., Yoon, T. Y., Choi, Y. J., Jin, H. M., Lee, J. E., Jeon, H. U., KimS. Y.*, KimS. O.*,  “Controlled Segmentation of Metal Nanowire Array by Block Copolymer Lithography and Reversible Ion Loading” Small , 2017, 13, 1603939. (link)
highlightened in Advanced Science news (

17. Kim, Y. C.1, Kim, D. H.1, Joo, S. H., Kwon, N. K., Shin, T. J., Register, R. A., Kwak, S. K., and Kim, S. Y.*, “Log-Rolling Block Copolymer Cylinders”, Macromolecules , 2017, 50, 3607-3616. 

16. Kim, D. H. and Kim, S. Y.*, “Effective Morphology Control of Block Copolymers and Spreading Area-Dependent Phase Diagram at the Air/Water Interface”, The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters2017, 8, 1865-1871. (link)

15. Ryu, S., Kim, J. Y., Kim, S. Y., and Weon, B.*, “Drying-mediated patterns in colloid-polymer suspensions”, Scientific Reports, 2017, 7, 7079 


14. Kwon, N. K., Park, C. S., Lee, C. H., Kim, Y. S., Zukoski, C. F., and Kim, S. Y.*, “Tunable Nanoparticle Stability in Concentrated Polymer Solutions on the Basis of the Temperature Dependent Solvent Qualtiy”, Macromolecules, 2016, 49, 2307-2317.  (link)


13. Kim, J. Y., Cho, K., Ryu, S., Kim, S. Y., and Weon, B.*, “Crack formation and prevention in colloidal drops”, Scientific Reports, 2015, 5, 13166.    (link)


12. Kim, S. Y., Nunns, A., Gwyther, J., Davis, R., Manners, I., Chaikin P. M., and Register, R. A.*, “Large-Area Nano-Square Arrays from Shear-Aligned Block Copolymer Thin Films”, Nano Letters, 2014, 14, 5698-5705. (link)

11. Garcia, N., Davis R. L., Kim, S. Y., Chaikin P. M., Register, R. A. and Vega D. A.*, “Mixed-Morphology and Mixed-Orientation Block Copolymer Bilayers”, RSC Advances, 2014, 4, 38412-38417.(link)

Before UNIST

10. Kwon, H., Lopez. V. E., Davis R. L., Kim, S. Y., Burns, A. B., and Register, R. A.*, “Polystyrene-polymer(2-ethylhexylmethacrylate) block copolymers: Synthesis, bulk phase behavior, and thin film structure”, Polymer, 2014, 55, 2059-2067.(link)

9. Kim, S. Y., Gwyther, J., Manners, I., Chaikin P. M., and Register, R. A.*, “Metal-containing Block Copolymer Thin Films Yield Wire Grid Polarizers with High Aspect Ratio”, Advanced Materials, 2014, 26, 791-795. (link)

8. Kim, S. Y. and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Molecular weight effects on Particle and Polymer Microstructure in Concentrated Polymer Solutions”, Macromolecules, 2013, 46, 6634. (link)

7. Kim, S. Y., Meyer, H., Saalwachter, K*. and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Polymer Dynamics in PEG- Silica Nanocomposites: Effects of polymer molecular weight, Temperature and Solvent Dilution”, Macromolecules, 2012, 45, 4225.(link)

6. Kim, S. Y. and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Super- and Sub-Einstein Intrinsic Viscosities of Spherical Nanoparticles in Concentrated Low Molecular Weight Polymer Solutions”, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 1801-1810. (link)

5. Kim, S. Y., Schweizer, K. S. and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Multiscale Structure, Interfacial Cohesion, Adsorbed Layers and Thermodynamics in Dense Polymer-Nanoparticle Mixtures”, Physical Review Letters, 2011, 107, 225504. (link)

[Highlighted by 2012 Accomplishments and Opportunities (NCNR Annual Report)]

4. Kim, S. Y. and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Role of Polymer Segment-Particle Surface Interactions in Controlling Nanoparticle Dispersions in Concentrated Polymer Solutions”, Langmuir, 2011, 27, 10455-63. (link)

3. Kim, S. Y., and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Particle Restabilization in Silica/PEG/Ethanol Suspensions: How Strongly do Polymers Need to Adsorb to Stabilize Against Aggregation?” Langmuir, 2011, 27, 5211-5221. (link)

2. Kim, S. Y., Hall, L., Schweizer, K.S., and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Long Wavelength Concentration Fluctuations and Cage Scale Ordering of Nanoparticles in Concentrated Polymer Solutions”, Macromolecules, 2010, 43, 10123-10131. (link)

1. Cha, C., Kim, S. Y., Lan, Cao. and Kong, H.*, “Decoupled control of stiffness and permeability with a cell encapsulating poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate hydrogel”, Biomaterials, 2010, 31, 4864-4871 (link)


Kim, S. and Register R. A., “Applications of Block Copolymers in Thin Films: Nanopatterning” In Encyclopedia of Polymeric Nanomaterials, edited by S. Kobayashi and K. Muellen, Springer, 2014


Contact us

We are looking for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students.
Students with passions and enthusiasms towards science and engineering are welcome!
If you are interested in joining “Laboratory for Soft Material NanoPhysics”, please email to “soyounkim at unist.ac.kr”.


So Youn Kim Research Group
EB104-603, 50 UNIST-gil, Eonyang-Eup, Ulju-gun, Ulsan, South Korea 44919
+82-52-217-2558 /2616
soyounkim at unist.ac.kr