LCI receives grant for research venture

Ben Wolford

Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute will receive two endowed research positions and a transmission electron microscope – and Ohio is picking up the tab.

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission gave a $15.2 million grant to a collaboration of three universities, Kent State receiving the largest portion totaling $7.3 million.

“It’s going to support two new hires at LCI that are called Ohio Research Scholars,” said LCI Director Oleg Lavrentovich.

He said the microscope will “allow scientists … to see things at the nanometer level.”

All of this will help maintain an initiative called the Research Cluster on Surfaces in Advanced Materials, a joint research venture that involves Case Western Reserve University, Youngstown State University and Ohio technology companies.

The Research Cluster will focus on learning about soft materials, which can be used for liquid crystal displays. It will then integrate its research into Ohio-based companies such as Kent Displays, Inc. and Kent Optronics, Inc.

“Creating the conditions that would create new jobs is a big part of this,” Lavrentovich said.

The funding agency, the Third Frontier Project, was established in 2002 to build Ohio’s research presence.

One of its programs is the Ohio Research Scholars Program, which offers grants to promote academic research that might benefit regional economies. It operates under the Ohio Department of Development and the Ohio Board of Regents.

John West, Kent State’s vice president for research, said the program is a positive step.

“It’s an excellent proposal from the university’s standpoint,” he said. “We’re thrilled. It highlights the leadership of Liquid Crystal (Institute) in their field.”

Contact administration reporter Ben Wolford at [email protected].