Research:

The original gelatin-based hydrogel is out. After a long time trying to force it to work, we reached the conclusion that it is not suitable for printing. This is after the method I described last week failed due to the printer being unable to support commands that would allow the gel time to cure before depositing the next layer. Unfortunately for this gel, it just doesn’t solidify fast enough and requires too much manual intervention for this type of printing to be effective.

Therefore, we are moving to a different formula. This one eliminates some components, but adds a small amount of a plant-based gelatin for toughness. The first attempt at printing this was unsuccessful, and was very difficult to clean up due to its material properties. However, we are reducing the concentration of regular gelatin and making another attempt!

The new printhead setup for the reformulated gel.

Excursions:

This weekend I took a day trip to Seoul. This was my first solo trip out of Daejeon, and it was very nice to have the freedom of following my own schedule. After an early morning bus ride, the first place I visited was the Lotte World Tower. It is the tallest building in South Korea, and the fifth tallest in the world. It dominates the skyline in such a way that it seems like it should only exist in the background of a video game. I went to the top of the tower, where there is an overlook with a glass floor (you can see just how far you’d fall if the glass broke!). Being able to see the whole city from such a height is insane, and far superior to Namsan Tower if I’m being honest.

From nearly 500 meters in the air, the tall apartment towers common to Korea seem tiny!

The next place I visited was the War Memorial of Korea. This museum is dedicated to telling the history of the Korean War and showcasing artifacts and related art. Through this, I came to appreciate even more both how hard the South Koreans fought for their freedom and how the free nations of the world came together to stop South Korea from being overrun. This country wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the sacrifices of not only their own soldiers, but ours.

Part of a monument outside that shows the South Korean soldiers valiantly defending their homeland.

Then I went to the National Folk Museum of Korea. There they show art and artifacts from Korean history. There were a lot of neat paintings, statues, and more artworks to see as examples of past and present culture.

Star Charts at the Folk History Museum.

Lastly I visited the Cheonggyecheon (청계천), which is a stream that passes through Seoul. The city renovated it so that it provides a nice area to relax and walk, amidst the busy city. Along the way, I passed the statues of King Sejong the Great, who made the Korean alphabet, and Admiral Yi Sun-sin, who saved Korea when outnumbered ten to one by the Japanese navy. 

The Cheonggyecheon in the evening.

Dr. Moser’s Workshop:

This week is actually our last workshop, and we are closing it out with our largest project: creating a presentation on this summer’s adventures. The goal is to be able to talk about our research experience to employers clearly and confidently. I think that this will prove useful as I enter the hectic season of career fairs and job hunting in the fall. This activity is putting my whole trip into perspective, and as our time comes to a close, reflection is important.