Liquid Crystal Day discusses past and future

Jeremy Nobile

Liquid Crystal Day brought together scientists, professors, industrial professionals, students and enthusiasts of the liquid crystal community to reflect on past achievements and remember the “grandfather of liquid crystals” Friday.

The events gave students a chance to give presentations showcasing their own work in the liquid crystals field.

“You can see the direct link between a cluster (of student research) here and the products over there,” Liquid Crystal Institute director Oleg Lavrentovich said.


Physics undergraduate Rochelle Teeling presented a poster during the exhibition for her senior Honors thesis on the study of liquid crystals.

“It’s a real good way to interact with people in the field,” she said.

An industrial exhibition, part of the day’s events, demonstrated the role of liquid crystals in products today. Some of the featured products included helmets, sunglasses and visors that utilized “E-tint” technology designed by AlphaMicron, Inc., in addition to screen displays that use cholesteric liquid crystal technology that is licensed to Kent Displays, Inc.

Panelists in a “From Student to Entrepreneur” discussion spoke of the route traveled from student to successful business professional. They delivered personal insight on how it takes a knowledge base that combines scientific expertise with business skills in order to be successful.

Panelist Julie Messing, a lecturer in marketing, said she was particularly excited about linking the business department with the liquid crystal field.

“I wish there was more student involvement,” Messing said about Liquid Crystal Day. “But I’m thrilled, we’re truly ramping up to become a cross-campus program.”

Alfred Saupe, who passed away on Aug. 3, is considered the founder of liquid crystal research because of his contributions to the field, including the development of the Maier-Saupe Theory. Saupe also made a deep impact on people’s personal lives.

“He (Saupe) was one of the legends of the field,” said LCI associate director Peter Palffy-Muhoray. “His first successful statistical theory . has the simplicity that is the hallmark of great physics.”

Palffy-Muhoray said Saupe was not interested in fame or recognition and was incredibly generous with his insights, sharing them with friends and colleagues.

Saupe’s wife Brigitte called her husband a “walking encyclopedia.”

He had a unique way of viewing everything as a puzzle, and he wanted to solve it, Brigitte said.

Contact sciences reporter Jeremy Nobile at [email protected].