Prinicipal Investigator
Kwang J. (Jin) Kim
  • Kwang J. (Jin) Kim, Ph.D.,
  • ASME Fellow, NAI Fellow
  • Distinguished Professor
    Department of Mechanical Engineering
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)
    4505 Maryland Parkway
    Las Vegas, NV 89154-4027
    Office: 702-774-1419
  • CV
  • Google ScholarGoogle Scholar Citations
Current Research Interest
Dr. Kim's Research Team
2017 Group Photo

Enhanced PVC gel actuator.
Artificial muscle driven petorial fin.
Shape memory IPMC actuator.
IPMC travelling waves
Twisting Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Actuators (with K. Leang)
Dropwise condensation on an interesting tube that we made (2012)
Metal Hydride Actuator (with K. Jung)

Kwang Kim’s Laboratory, namely Active Materials and Smart Living (AMSL) Laboratory, provides an academic environment to the UNLV students and researchers to learn and develop necessary engineering skills and attitudes that are needed to become great innovators throughout the course of their career. The laboratory is adequately setup to study engineering science in connection with Matter and Energy that has the broader economic-and-sociological impact on “sustainability and health engineering”.

Kwang J. (Jin) Kim is Distinguished Professor of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Prior to joining UNLV in Fall 2012, he was University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Foundation Professor and Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department (2007-2012). He graduated from Yonsei University, Korea, in 1987 and received his MS and Ph.D. from Arizona State University (ASU) in 1989 and 1992, respectively. Later, he completed a postdoctoral study at the University of Maryland-College Park UMCP (1993-1995). His industrial experience includes Senior Research Engineer at Thermal Electric Devices, Inc. (1995-1997) and Chief Scientist at Environmental Robots, Inc. (1997-2001), Albuquerque NM.

His research interests are in a broad spectrum of “Active Materials/Sensors” and “Energy Systems.” He has authored/ co-authored more than 410(+) technical publications including 205 referred journal papers and 3 monographs and was awarded 3 U.S. patents. He is a recipient of the 2021 SSH lifetime achievement award from SPIE, the 2016 Harry Reid Silver State Researcher Award, the 2016 Barrick Distinguished Scholar Award, the 2015 Regents' Researcher Award, the 2011 UNR Foundation Professorship, the 2006 UNR Lemelson Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the 2002 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities. He is a Fellow of ASME (2007) and National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and currently serves on several editorial boards of Smart Materials and Structures (SMS), International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials (TSNM), Scientific Reports, International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, Frontiers in bioengineering, Frontiers in Robotics and AI and Actuators.

May 2021: Nazanin Minaian (Mechanical Engineering) received the Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication Best Student Paper Award: second place for her paper, "Continuing the Investigation of the Sensing Response of Ionic Polymer-metal Composites: Effects of Geometry and Orientation" (11586-5) from SPIE Smart Structures + NDE 2021. Minaian is a PhD student.
May 2021: Zakai Olsen, AMSL's recent PhD-graduate, was selected as the first-place winner for the 2020-2021 Outstanding Dissertation Competition. The title of his dissertation is "A HYPERELASTIC POROUS MEDIA FRAMEWORK FOR IONIC POLYMER-METAL COMPOSITES AND CHARACTERIZATION OF TRANSDUCTION PHENOMENA VIA DIMENSIONAL ANALYSIS AND NONLINEAR REGRESSION."
July 2021: Zakai took a new position at Intel Corporation (Hillsboro, OR) as Systems Engineer.
April 2021: Alexandrea Washington, a PhD student of AMSL, won the 1st place of the Spring 2021 Graduate Celebration competition: more information.
March 2021: The PI of AMSL, Prof. Kwang Kim, was recently included in a ranking of the top 2 percent of most-cited scientists in the world []
March 2021: The SPIE Lifetime Achievement Awards recognize senior researchers who have made significant contributions to the field of Smart Structures and Materials (SSM) or Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) and who have been instrumental in their growth. The award decision is based on the extent of the nominee’s impact on our community and participation in the SPIE Smart Structures + Nondestructive Evaluation symposium. The prize consists of an SPIE certificate and a plenary talk at the symposium the following year. The 2021 SSM Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Prof. Kwang Kim on March 22, 2021.
August 2020: Robert Hunt successfully defended his PhD dissertation, entitled "THERMO-MECHANICAL MODELING AND THE APPLICATION OF COILED POLYMER ACTUATORS IN SOFT ROBOTICS AND BIOMIMETICS" on 08/04/2020. He started his engineering career as an on-site consultant at Facebook Media Lab (FML) in Seattle, WA with Fresh Consulting.
September 6, 2020: Alexandrea Washington, a PhD student of AMSL@UNLV, was selected as a 3-year NASA graduate study fellowship awardee. Congratulations to Alex! For more inforormation
An AMSL PhD student Nazanin Minaian's ( ) coauthored paper entitled, "Spiral shape energy harvester with silicone finger bending model using PVDF," was selected as one of the best papers in the 4th International Conference on Active Materials and Soft Mechatronics (Authors: Y. Kim, N. Minaian, J. -B. Song, K. Kim, and Y. Cha)
May 19, 2019: Rebecca Xinke Cao, undergraduate researcher of Active Materials and Smart Living laboratory, was selected as one of May 2019 Outstanding UNLV graduates. With a 3.97 GPA, Rebecca Xinke Cao is graduating with two bachelor's degrees — in mechanical engineering and computer science — a minor in mathematics.
April 26, 2019: Blake Naccarato, PhD student, got the third place award in the poster competition at 2019 Nevada NASA EPSCoR meeting held in Reno, NV.
October 2018: Four of AMSL PhD students (Robert Hunt, Zakai Olsen, Zachary Frank, and Justine Neubauer) traveled to S. Korea (KAIST) and participated in the 3rd Active Materials and Soft Mechatronics workshop and gave their talks. For more info ( Photo: Zakai Olsen is giving his invited talk on IPMC modeling at the workshop.
October 2018: At the 3rd Active Materials and Soft Mechatronics workshop, Prof. Kim was received “the Pioneer Award” for his life-long pioneering work on artificial muscle and related research work.
October 2018: Prof. Kim gave a talk at 2018 UNLV Research Day. His talk was entitled “Studying Soft-robots Equipped with Artificial Muscle.” This talk was broad-based for general public including large number of middle school students and teachers from the Las Vegas area.
August 2018: Five new PhD students joined AMSL. Nazanin Minaian, Liya Napollion, Justin Neubauer, Zakai Olsen, and Alex Washington. Nazanin, Liya, and Justin were undergraduate researchers at AMSL during their BS programs and decided to continue their PhD at AMSL under Prof. Kim’s supervision. All of them are working on soft-robot related projects funded by various funding agencies (NSF, DoD, DoE, etc.).
July 2018: Prof. Kim gave a keynote talk at AIM 2018 (IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics)held in U of Auckland, New Zealand. The talk was entitled “Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites as a Candidate Underwater Active Material”.
May 2018: Zakai Olsen was selected as one of MAY 2018 OUTSTANDING UNLV Graduates. UNLV president highlighted him at commencement. He finished his MS degree in May and continue to work toward PhD degree at AMSL.
May 2018: Sarah Trabia defended her PhD dissertation entitled
Spring 2018: Tyler Stalbaum has received this year’s graduate college Outstanding Dissertation (STEM), for "Ionic Electroactive Polymer Devices: Physics-Based Modeling with Experimental Investigation and Verification".
January 2018: Prof. Kwang Kim was selected as a Fellow of National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and will be inducted in April 2018 in Washington DC. Dr. Kim is the first NAI Fellow elected from the state of Nevada.More story
December 2017: Qi Shen received his PhD in December and decided to take an offer from AMSL Holding as Senior Engineer. In the winter graduation, Qi was recognized as one of Winter Outstanding Graduates 2017.
August 2017: NSF/PIRE South KoreaUNLV's NSF/PIRE students along with other students from RPI, NYU, and U of Utah travelled to South Korea to visit KIST (Korea Institute of Science and Technology) for collaborative research in soft-robotics (hosted by Dr. Youngsu Cha of KIST).
August 2017: 2017 NSF/PIRE JapanUNLV's NSF/PIRE students along with other students from RPI, NYU, and U of Utah travelled to Japan to visit a National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) center in Osaka for collaborative research and a workshop on soft-mechatronics (hosted by Dr. Kinji Asaka of AIST).
Spring of 2017: Zakai OlsenOne of AMSL's graduate student, Zakai Olsen, was recently named as one the six ASME nominees for the 2017 New Faces of Engineering Program (see ASME News Vol. 36(4), 2017). This nomination annually spotlights the important contributions early career engineers and engineering students are making to the profession and to society.
Fall of 2016: Tyler Stalbaum Tyler Stalbaum successfully defended his PhD dissertation entitled "Ionic Electroactive Devices: Physics-based Modeling with Experimental Verification." He was, also, recognized by UNLV as one of the four outstanding winter graduates (for more information click here.)
NSP PIRESummer of 2016: Prof. Kim and NSF PIRE students went to a field trip to S. Korea to collaborate with researchers from KAIST (Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). The goal of this collaborative international research project is to create advanced multifunctional Artificial Muscles (AMs) based on the unique properties of Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites (IPMCs) for soft robotics. In particular, this project will leverage expertise across the U.S. (UNLV, University of Utah, NYU, and RPI) and abroad (South Korea and Japan) to address critical technical challenges in AM technology and develop effective and reliable IPMC-based AM technology for soft robotic applications.
AMSLSpring of 2016:
AMSL students gave a nice demonstration at EAP-in-Action (SPIE meeting in Las Vegas) about an IPMC with shape-memory effect. Left-right: Prof. Kim, Robert Hunt, Choonghan Lee, Tyler Stalbaum, Qi Shen, Dr. Junwoo Park, Sarah Trabia, and Zakai Olsen.
A featured article on Prof. Kim’s PIRE activities were published on the NSF website article entitled, “Turnable, twistable robots” published June 15, 2016. (

3D workshopProf. Kim, in collaboration with Prof. Jaeyun Moon, organized a mini-workshop on “3D Manufacturing” at the UNLV.
Prof. Kim received the 2016 Barrick Distinguished Scholar Award in May 2016.
PIRE ProjectFall of 2015: Prof. Kim's PIRE project was selected for funding by National Science Foundation. Another Prof. Kim's NASA project, in collaboration with University of Nevada, Reno, entitled "Advanced Transport Technologies for NASA Thermal Management/Control Systems," was selected for funding. AMSL's new logo was designed by Zakai Olsen's family. Nevada Lt Governor, Mark Hutchison, visited AMSL on September 24, 2015.
Summer of 2015: AMSLShelby Nelson successfully defended her MS thesis entitled, "Feasibility Study Of Custom Manufacturing Methods Of Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Sensors" and was hired as Mechanical Engineer for GearWorks near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
January/February/March 2015: AMSL hosted a focused workshop on soft robotics with SKK University from S. Korea in January.
Prof. Kim was awarded the 2015 Nevada Regents’ Researcher award on March 6. More...
September/October/November/December 2014: Two of Kim’s group PhD students, Tyler Stalbaum and Jameson Lee, received their NASA Space Grant Consortium Fellowship.
On September 22, Nevada Governor Sandoval visited AMSL.
Prof. Kim gave an invited talk at AFORE 2014 conference on Renewable Energy.
Prof. Kim's research on surface modification techniques was covered by UNLV Research Megazine in December.
July 2014: Kuok Cheng completed his PhD study by successfully defending his dissertation entitled “Parameter Studies on Dropwise Condensation Heat Transfer for Industrial Applications.”
A Provisional Patent entitled, “Heat Dissipating Plate Device for Light Emitting Diode, Heat Lamp for Automobile and Method for Preparing the Same,” was filed. This technology was developed via collaboration with Hyundai/Kia Motors.
June 2014: Prof. Kim gave an invited talk at the Kentucky Organic Electronic Materials Symposium University on “Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites (IPMC) as Soft Actuators and Sensors.”
May 2014: Prof. Kim hosted the first mini-symposium on Intermountain Biotechnology, Energy and Materials (BEM). The BEM gathers graduate students, researchers, and faculty members from Utah State University and University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
May 2014: Md Mainul Hossain Bhuiya completed his PhD study by successfully defending his dissertation entitled “Design and Analysis of Hydrogen Powered Actuator Integrating Metal Hydride Storage System.”
April 2014: Deivid Pugal completed his 2nd PhD from Institute of Physics, University of Tartu (UT), Estonia under Prof. Alvo Aabloo of UT and Prof. Kim. His dissertation title is “hp-FEM Model of IPMC Deformation.”
March 2014: Shelby Nelson, Tyler Stalbaum, Viljar Palmre, and Prof. Kim went to the 2014 Smart Materials and Conferences to present a number of papers.
Feb 2014: Prof. Kim hosted a mini NASA workshop on “Softrobotics/Active Skins and Related Technologies.”
Feb 2014
Jan 2014: The Department of Defense recently awarded Prof. Kim an equipment grant of $248,495, entitled “Establishment of a Versatile Nano/Micro-Mechanical Characterization Facility.”
Dec 2013: Prof. Kim was named as one of Collaborative Research and Education (CoRE) Fellow of UNLV. He will serve as a facilitator for subjects related to Renewable Resources and Sustainability.
Dec 2013: Dec 2013NBD Nanotechnologies, Inc. (NBD), a start-up company from Boston, Massachusetts, UNLV, and the Korean Institute of Energy Research (KIER) entered into a license agreement for certain commercialization rights in and to a UNLV/KIER developed technology generally known as "Polymer-Based Porous Coatings Enhancing Condenser Performance." The technology came out of Prof. Kim’s laboratory.
Recent Publications and Books

March 2021:Small
AMSL lab successfully and remotely presented 5 papers in the 2021 SPIE/SSM and NDE conference (see more info in conference papers):

Spring 2021Small
A book chapter authored by Alexandrea Washington, Justin Neubauer and Kwang J. Kim, "Soft actuators and their potential applications in rehabilitative devices," was published in a book entitled Soft Robotics in Rehabilitation. (Academic Press: ed. Amir Jafari, Nafiseh Ebrahimi, 2021, ISBN 9780128185384).

Prof. Kim and Zakai Olsen in collaboration with Prof. I.K. Oh of KAIST published an invited perspective paper on IPMC, entitled "Developing next generation ionic polymer– metal composite materials: perspectives for enabling robotics and biomimetics," for 50th anniversary issue of Polymer International (ed. T. Long) [DOI 10.1002/pi.6128; 70(1), pp. 7-9; 2021].

Fall 2020:
A book chapter entitled, “Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite (IPMC) Artificial Muscles in Underwater Environments: Review of Actuation, Sensing, Controls, and Applications to Soft Robotics,” was accepted for publication in an edited book by Derek A. Paley and Norman M. Wereley, Bioinspired Sensing, Actuation, and Control in Underwater Soft Robotic Systems (published by Springer Nature Switzerland AG). The chapter was written by AMSL members (Nazanin Minaian, Zakai J. Olsen, and Kwang J. Kim). Congratulations to Nazanin and Zakai!

Small A collaborative paper between UNLV (Justin Neubauer and Kwang Kim) and KIST/S. Korea entitled "Multidirectional Cylindrical Piezoelectric Force Sensor: Design and Experimental Validation," was just published in Sensors (for more information).

Small A collaborative paper between UNLV (Kwang Kim) and KAIST/S. Korea entitled, "Sulfur- and Nitrogen-Rich Porous π-Conjugated COFs as Stable Electrode Materials for Electro-Ionic Soft Actuators," was published in Advanced Functional Materials (for more information).

Fall 2019:
Robert Hunt’s work on soft-robots was recognized by:
1)Small Synopsys’ blog on "Improving Product Design Using Biomimicry".
2)Small Advanced Science News entitled "Robotic Dorsal Fins Help Us Understand Aquatic Movement."
3) the 42nd issue of the WW-EAP Newsletter

SmallSummer 2019:
A paper (authored by Taeseon Hwang, Zachary Frank, Justin Neubauer, and Dr. Kwang Kim) entitled "High-performance polyvinyl chloride gel artificial muscle actuator with graphene oxide and plasticizer," was published in Scientific Report (more info). Two video files you can find from "Supplementary information" of this paper.

SmallRobert Hunt’s paper entitled "A soft-robotic harbor porpoise pectoral fin driven by coiled polymer actuators as artificial muscles," was published in Advanced Intelligent Systems. Also, this paper was selected as back-cover (more info; also a video)

SmallA collaborative paper with Prof. I.K. Oh of KAIST entitled "Collectively Exhaustive Electrodes Based on Covalent Organic Framework and Antagonistic Co-Doping for Electroactive Ionic Artificial Muscles," was recently published in Advanced Functional Materials (10.1002/adfm.201900161)

SmallSpring 2019:
Dr. Jong Min Byun’s paper in Applied Surface Science was published. He is a former postdoc at AMSL and currently assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SEOULTECH). The paper is entitled “Formation of a gold nanoparticle layer for the electrodes of ionic polymer–metal composites by electroless deposition process” Small( Also, Qi Shen’s paper entitled “A robotic multiple-shape-memory ionic polymer–metal composite (IPMC) actuator: modeling approach,” was published in Smart Materials and Structures ( Qi is currently with ASML US Inc. as Sr. system engineer/Architect.

SmallFall 2018:
Zakai Olsen’s publication entitled “a reduced dimensional mapping approach for modeling IPMCs with computational efficiency and rapid design development applications,” came out in Smart Materials and Structures (2018: doi:

SmallSpring 2018:
Sarah Trabia and Zakai Olsen just published a paper entitled "Understanding the Thermal Properties of Precursor-Ionomers to Optimize Fabrication Processes for Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites (IPMCs)" in Materials (2018; doi:10.3390/ma11050665). This is a collaborative work between UNLV and SKKU, S. Korea.

SmallFall 2017:
Prof. Kwang Kim’s collaborative research on Artificial Muscle with KAIST/Prof. I.-K Oh, was published in Advanced Science [S. Roy, J. Kim, M. Kotal, K. J. Kim, and I.-K. Oh, "Electroionic Antagonistic Muscles Based on Nitrogen-Doped Carbons Derived from Poly(Triazine-Triptycene)” 1700410 (2017)]. Also, this work was selected as back-cover.

SmallA paper entitled "Soft but Powerful Artificial Muscles Based on 3D Graphene–CNT–Ni Heteronanostructures," was selected as the cover page by Small. This work was collaborative study between KAIST's Prof. Il-Kwon Oh and UNLV's Prof. Kwang Kim.

A paper entitled "A New High-Performance Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Based on Nafion / Polyimide Blends, was published in Smart Materials and Structures, Vol. 26, 035015 (11pp) (2017,

Spring of 2016:
AMSL students/researchers (Qi Shen, Sarah Trabia, TylerStalbaum, ViljarPalmre) published a paper in Scientific Reports, (DOI: 10.1038/srep24462) that is titled "A Multiple-Shape Memory Polymer-Metal Composite Actuator Capable of Programmable Control, Creating Complex 3D Motion of Bending, Twisting, and Oscillation.
Prof. Kim also published a collaborative paper with Prof. Il-Kwon Oh of KAIST in Advanced Materials. The paper is entitled "Sulfur and Nitrogen Co-Doped Graphene Electrodes for High-Performance Ionic Arti?cial Muscles." (DOI: 10.1002/adma.201505243)

Md Bhuiya and Anupam Kumar’s review paper entitled “Metal hydrides in engineering systems, processes, and devices: a review of non-storage applications,” was published by International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (40/5, pp. 2231-2247, 2015).

BongJun Zhang’s paper entitled “Noncovalently assembled nanotubular porous layers for delaying of heating surface failure,” was published in Scientific Reports (4 : 6817 | DOI: 10.1038/srep06817)
Scientific Reports

Another collaborative paper with Tartu University, entitled “Ionic electroactive polymer artificial muscles in space applications,” was published by Scientific Reports (4 : 6913 | DOI: 10.1038/srep06913)

Viljar Palmre’s paper entitled “Nanothorn Electrodes for Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Artificial Muscles,” was published in a Nature journal - Scientific Reports [4: 6176 | DOI: 10.1038/srep06176].

Viljar’s paper entitled “An IPMC-Enabled Bio-Inspired Bending/Twisting Fin for Underwater Applications” was included in the highlights of 2013 Smart Materials and Structures Journal (V. Palmre, M. Fleming, D. Pugal, S.J. Kim, K. J. Kim, and K. K. Leang, 22, 014003, 2013; doi:10.1088/0964-1726/22/1/014003).

Dr. Kim’s new paper, “Recent Advances in Ionic Polymer–Metal Composite Actuators and their Modeling and Applications,“ was published in Progress in Polymer Science [38(7), 1037–1066 (2013); C. Jo, D. Pugal, I.-K. Oh, and K. J. Kim, and K. Asaka].

Dr. Kim's new book entitled "Biomimetic Robotic Artificial Muscles" (co-authored with Drs. Xiabo Tan, Hyouk Ryeol Choi, and David Pugal) was published by World Scientific in the spring of 2013.

Biomimetic Robotic Artificial Muscles

Dr. Kim's artificial muscle research based on hydrogen gas is featured on Discovery News and, also, covered by "NewScientist" magazine. [ > ]

New Scientist

K. J. Kim and S. Tadokoro (ed.), "Electroactive Polymers for Robotic Application: Artificial Muscles and Sensors," Published by Springer, London [ > ]

Electroactive Polymers for Robotics Applications

M. Shahinpoor, K. J. Kim, and M. Mojarrad, "Artificial Muscles: Applications of Advanced Polymeric Nano-Composites" Published by Taylor and Francis-CRC, New York [ > ]

Artificial Muscles

Longevity by Tae Lee (1903-1975), Grandfather of Kwang Jin Kim