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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)


2020    TCI 우수고분자연구실 (지도교수), Polymer Society of Korea
2020    OSK Rising Star 30, Optical Society of Korea
2015    Distinguished Lectureship Award, The Korean Neutron Beam Users Association
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

Ye Chan Kim

2018-03-09-17-43-13Combined M.S-Ph.D. course (Since 2015 Spring)

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

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

yulprofileCombined M.S-Ph.D. course (Since 2015 Fall)

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

theme: Understanding the Colloidal and Structural Properties of Graphene Oxide Liquid Crystal Suspension for Microstructure Control of Graphene Fibers

tools: SAXS, Rheometer, DLS, SLS, POM

e-mail: tladbfgml@unist.ac.kr

Dong Hyup Kim

KDH_2019 APSCombined M.S-Ph.D. course (Since 2016 Spring)

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

theme : Intrinsic and Extrinsic Interfacial Effects on Self-assembly of Block Copolymers under One-Dimensional Confinement

website (link)

 e-mail : d.h.kim@unist.ac.kr

Sol Mi Oh

OSMCombined M.S-Ph.D. course (Since 2017 Spring)

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

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

  e-mail : ohsolmi0802@unist.ac.kr

Ga Young Kim

photoM.S course (Since 2019 Spring)

B.S. : Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, KAIST

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

e-mail : gayoungkim@unist.ac.kr

Seong Eun Kim

Seong Eun KimCombined M.S-Ph.D. course (Since 2020 Spring)

B.S. : Chemical Engineering, Inha Univ.

theme : -

e-mail : sseongeun@unist.ac.kr

Geon Woong Kim

Geon Woong KimCombined M.S-Ph.D. course (Since 2020 Spring)

B.S. : Polymer Science & Engineering, Busan National Univ.

theme : -

e-mail : rjsdnd0221@unist.ac.kr


Tae Yeon Kong

KTYResearcher (Since 2020 Fall)

M.S. : Chemical Engineering, Pukyong National Univ.

theme : –

e-mail : kkong0824@naver.com


Seong Min Jo

Seong Min Jo 2019.06 – ing


 2020.00 – ing

Awards and Fellowships

2020          Dong Hyup Kim         Outstanding Graduate Student Award, UNIST

2020          Sol Mi Oh                    Outstanding Paper Award, The Korean Society of Rheology

2020          Sol Mi Oh                    TCI Outstanding Research Award, The Polymer Society of Korea

2019          Sol Mi Oh                    Best Poster Award, AOCNS 2019

2019          Sol Mi Oh                    Outstanding Graduate Student Award, UNIST

2019          Ye Chan Kim              Outstanding Graduate Student Award, UNIST

2019          Ye Chan Kim               Best Poster Award, Fall Meeting of PSK

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


Graduates (Ph.D.)

Na Kyung Kwon

2015.02 – 2020.08: Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, UNIST

current position: LG Innotech

Graduates (M.S.)

Soh Jin Mun

2017.08 – 2019.08: M.S. Chemical Engineering, UNIST

current position: Hyundai Heavy Industries

Undergraduate interns


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) – Hanwha General Chemical

Seung Won Kim (2019.03 – 2019.06)

Ha Yan Park (2019.06 – 2019.12)

Ye Jin Kim (2019.06 – 2019.12)

Ji Su Park (2019.06 – 2019.12)

Jae Ho Choo (2019.06 – 2020.02)

Yeongdae Choi (2019.12 – 2020.02)

Wonkeun Cho (2019.12 – 2020.02)

Seunghan Yun (2020.07)

Chaeyeon Kim (2020.07- 2020.08)


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.

a. Graphene Oxide Liquid Crystallinity in Polymer Solutions


b. The Correlation of Rheological Properties and Microstructure of GO using Rheo-SAXS


c. polymer crystallization on Graphene Oxide surface

Graphene oxide (GO) can be employed as fillers in polymer-based applications. The liquid crystallinity (LC) of GO and good dispersity in polar solvent make GO more attractive than any other materials, expecting to improve the physical property of neat polymers. While GO can certainly retain their LC or alignments even in very dense polymer solutions, the degree of GO LC may compete with the possible polymer crystallization. We aim to correlate the GO LC with polymer crystallization to build a stronger structure-property relationship.



Nanopatterning with Block Copolymers

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
homepage update

Surface and Interface

a. interfacial self-assembly

Amphiphilic block copolymers (BCPs) can self-assemble at air/water interfaces exhibiting interesting periodic structures. Using Langmuir-Blodgett method, these periodic structures can be finely tuned with a few nm resolutions and easily transferred to other substrates Our group is interested in employing these structures as a platform to build new nanostructures in thin films.


b. drying in thin films

Many soft matter processings in film industry require a continuous process of coating and drying. While desired nanostructures expecting to convey a certain physical property need to keep their original structures, a rapid and dynamic drying/annealing process can deform the structures. We are interested in revealing how the drying process can deform the nanostructures of polymer nanocomposites in bulk and films.


Colloids… and beyond

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


Going into Details for Micro- Nano- structures

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).




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

00. Shim, Y. H. et al, “Graphene Oxide under Shear”, to be submitted.

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


34. Mun, S. J., Shim, Y. H., Kim, G. W., Koo, S. H., Ahn, H., Shin, T. J., Kim, S. O., and Kim, S. Y.*, “Tailored Growth of Graphene Oxide Liquid Crystals with Controlled Polymer Crystallization in GO-polymer Composites”, Nanoscale2021, published. (link


33. Kim, D. H., Suh, A., Park, G., Yoon, D. K.*, and Kim, S. Y.*, “Nanoscratch-Directed Self-Assembly of Block Copolymer Thin Films”, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2021, ASAP. (link)


32. Kwon, N. K., Kim, H., Shin, T. J., Saalwächter, K., Park, J.*, and Kim, S. Y.*, “Control of Particle Dispersion with Autophobic Dewetting in Polymer Nanocomposites”, Macromolecules, 2020, 53, 4836–4844. (link)

31. KimD. H. and Kim, S. Y.*, “Universal Interfacial Control through Polymeric Nanomosaic Coating for Block Copolymer Nanopatterning”, ACS Nano, 2020, 14, 7140–7151. (link)

30. Lee, J. M., Koo, M. B., Lee, S. W., Lee, H., Kwon, J., Shim, Y. H., Kim, S. Y., and Kim, K. T.*, “High-density information storage in an absolutely defined aperiodic sequence of monodisperse copolyester”, Nature Communications, 2020, 11, 56. (link)


29. Oh, S. M., Abbasi, M., Shin, T. J., Saalwächter, K.*, and Kim, S. Y.*, “Initial Solvent-Driven Non-Equilibrium Effect of Polymer Nanocomposites on Structure, Properties and Dynamics”, Physical Review Letters2019, 123, 167801. (link)

28. KimD. H. and Kim, S. Y.*, “Self-assembled Copolymer Adsorption Layer-Induced Block Copolymer Nanostructures in Thin Films”, ACS Central Science, 2019, 5, 1562–1571. (link)

27. Kim, Y. C., Shin, T. J., Hur, S. M.*, Kwon, S. J.*, and Kim, S. Y.*, “Shear-Solvo Defect Annihilation of Diblock Copolymer Thin Films over a Large Area”, Science Advances, 2019, 5, eaaw3974. (link)

26. 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, 2019, 5, eaav4819. (link)


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)
selected to be a part of 「Pohang Accelerator Laboratory 2018 Science Highlights」

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
Selected to be a part of 「Horizons Community Board Collection – Emerging 2D Materials for Energy and Electronics Applications.」

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. Ryu, S., Kim, J. Y., Kim, S. Y., and Weon, B.*, “Drying-mediated patterns in colloid-polymer suspensions”, Scientific Reports2017, 7, 7079 (link)

16. 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. 

15. 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)


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, 6634–6643. (link)

7. Kim, S. Y., Meyer, H., Saalwächter, K*. and Zukoski, C. F.*, “Polymer Dynamics in PEG- Silica Nanocomposites: Effects of polymer molecular weight, Temperature and Solvent Dilution”, Macromolecules, 2012, 45, 4225–4237.(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, 10455–10463. (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