Liquid Crystal Institute receives $14.5M grant

Shamira Fowler

Kent State University’s Liquid Crystal Institute is planning to use the $14.5 million Research Scholar Award it received in May to expand research, LCI Director Oleg D. Lavrentovich said.

Kent State competed with schools and private universities throughout the state of Ohio for a share of more than $143 million granted by the Ohio Research Scholars program. The Liquid Crystal Institute will lead a partnership with other Northeast Ohio organizations in liquid crystal and soft matter research.

James Maxwell, public relations coordinator for LCI, said the institute plans to use the award to study liquid crystals beyond cell phone displays and television screens.

Recent liquid crystal research at Kent State includes studies in flexible displays, bio-detection, space communication and national departmental defense, Maxwell said.

“We are looking to fully understand the breadth of knowledge about liquid crystals,” Lavrentovich said.

Graduate students at LCI also hope to benefit from the generous award.

“We hope it can improve the whole search (of liquid crystals),” graduate student Uana Tortora said. “It is a general hope for everybody.”

LCI is also hiring “two outstanding, internationally renowned faculty members,” Maxwell said.

Members of LCI believe these new faculty members will help add variety to the institute.

Also, because graduate students study under faculty members and get paid for research, the new hires will offer them more opportunity.

“That means they have more money for students,” graduate student John Hardn said. “If the faculty doesn’t get paid, I don’t get paid.”

Maxwell says the grant will also help the Ohio economy. LCI will be collaborating with local businesses, such as Kent Displays, in commercializing liquid crystal displays.

“We plan on supporting the local businesses in the area,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said he believes that supporting local businesses in Kent and Ohio will cut back on outsourcing to foreign countries.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Shamira Fowler at [email protected].