ü Secured independent source technology through development of high-strength aramid pulp
ü nvestigated the principle of molecular growth and packing by which polymerized synthetic fiber can be formed like natural pulp
ü Korea-based scientist who achieved global renown for his scientific achievements
The late Han Sik Yoon (1929~2008)
Former chief researcher at Korea Institute of Science & Technology
- Academic background
Department of Textile Engineering of Seoul National University (Bachelor’s degree)
Department of Textile Engineering of Graduate School of Seoul National University (Master’s degree)
Department of Textile Engineering of Graduate School of Seoul National University (Ph.D. degree))
- Professional career
Teacher at the middle school affiliated with the Busan Teacher’s College
Director of Research Lab of (former) Daewon Dye Industries in Busan
xecutive Director of Technology at (former) Bum-A Synthetic Chemical Industries in Busan
Researcher at KIST (senior, chief and chair-researcher)
Honorary researcher at KIST
- Awards received
Citation by the Prime Minister
Order of Civil Merit, Magnolia Medal
Winner of the 1st Scientist of the Year Award by the Science Reporters’ Club
Technology Award from the Korean Textile Research Association
Lifetime beneficiary of Pension for Meritorious Scientists
Dr. Han Sik Yoonis a scientist who dedicated his life to solving the problems of industrial technology and his research on aramid pulp was globally renowned for its practical performance. The scholarly significance of his work has been recognized globally.
Han Sik Yoon was born in Hamyang, Gyeongsangnam-do and graduated from Choongang High School in Seoul and then from the Department of Textile Engineering of Seoul National University in 1955. Following graduation, he taught students for several years at a middle school affiliated with the Busan Teacher’s College. He had a deep interest in technology development, so he decided to transfer to Daewon Dye Industries in Busan where he worked as the director of a research lab. In 1965, he participated in the establishment of Bum-A Synthetic Chemical Industries in Busan where he served as executive director of technology. Since all phenol used in industry was imported at the time, he helped to solve the domestic shortage by developing a process for manufacturing phenol using benzene, a chemical that was easier to procure. However, although he was successful in manufacturing phenol using benzene, the volume of inexpensive phenol imported into Korea suddenly increased, thereby forcing him to close his company.
KIST, the first government-funded research institute in Korea, was established in 1966 with the goal of conducting research and development of industrial technologies. This institution provided a valuable opportunity for Han Sik Yoon who was seeking to expand his horizons. In the initial stage of its establishment, KIST recruited numerous personnel with Ph.D. degrees in the natural sciences & engineering, especially those with research experience in advanced countries. Although Han Sik Yoon had only studied in Korea, he was able to secure a position as a researcher at KIST in recognition of his many years of successful R&D in the corporate sector.
Upon joining KIST in 1967, Dr. Han concentrated solely on solving the technological issues confronted by domestic industries in the field of polymer chemistry, which included artificial wig hair. At the end of the 1960’s, wigs were one of key import products for South Korea. He was able to manufacture artificial hair for wigs that had a tactile feel similar to that of natural hair by processing imported yarn to serve as the hair fiber.
His most outstanding research performance was the development of high-strength aramid pulp. Aramid was originally developed by Du Pont of USA as a high-strength fire-resistant fiber that was employed in products such as machines and fireproof suits. In the 1970’s, Kevlar, an aramid fiber patented by Du Pont, enjoyed dominance in the global market. The Fiber Chemistry Research Lab headed by Han Sik Yoon began research for domestic production of aramid fiber and quickly succeeded in synthesizing a polymer substance for the mass production of aramid fiber in 1979.
The research team of Han Sik Yoon then succeeded developing an original manufacturing process for aramid pulp. By the 1980’s, demand for Kevlar pulp employing Kevlar as a filament increased rapidly as a substitute for asbestos in brakes. The process of manufacturing Kevlar pulp was lengthy and complicated because the Kevlar fiber that required numerous processes in production, then had to be reprocessed again to form a pulp. By contrast, the research conducted by Han Sik Yoon’s team managed to produce aramid pulp by employing simultaneously aramid polymerization and molecular packing. This manufacturing process was simpler than that developed by Du Pont, thereby resulting in higher efficiency and lower costs for production. Han Sik Yoon applied for patent registration in the USA for this aramid pulp and of the manufacturing process employed that he developed. His application was approved in 1985. Although Du Pont displayed interest in this technology, instead he decided to transfer the technology to Kolon of Korea in 1984. Utilizing research funding from Kolon, Han Sik Yoon was able to manufacture a prototype of aramid pulp using the prototype facility that he built with technology that he developed independently in 1986 in follow-up research, becoming a chair researcher at KIST.
He also academically investigated the aramid pulp formation process. In his article entitled “Synthesis of Fiber by Growth-Packing” that he published in the renowned academic journal, Nature (Vol. 326, No. 6113), in 1987, he explained the process for the formation of aramid pulp, describing how the molecules grow naturally like wool by means of the principle of molecular growth and packing. This paper demonstrated that the academic value of his performances was recognized globally.
Han Sik Yoon had the conviction that he could succeed if he had the tenaciously to pursue the goals he set and to practice this throughout his entire life. He was a ‘native scientist’ who received master’s degree and Ph.D. degree when he enrolled in graduate school in his 50’s. His Ph.D. degree thesis was titled “Study on co-condensation polyamide fiber with regularly arranged aromatic-aliphatic structure units.” He was able to achieve technological and academical breakthroughs by tenaciously pursuing research on polymer synthetic fiber.
He received Order of Civil Merit, Magnolia Medal in 1984, the 1st Scientist of the Year Award given by the Science Reporters’ Club in 1985 and he was selected as a member of New York Science Academy in 1992. Furthermore, the Korean government selected Han Sik Yoon as the No. 1 lifetime beneficiary for the Meritorious Scientist Pension, a program established in 1992. All these honors were an appraisal of the contributions that he made by dedicating his life to R&D for the industrial advancement of Korea as a native scientist.