Scientists celebrate liquid crystals with speech, posters

Justin Armburger

On a cold and rainy Friday morning, more than 100 people gathered inside the Samsung Auditorium in the Liquid Crystal Institute to celebrate the third annual Liquid Crystal Day.

“The goal is to bring together people and celebrate over 40 years of research of liquid crystal technology,” said Antal Jakli, associate professor of the chemical physics interdisciplinary program (CPIP).

During his introduction, Jakli joked about timing up the event with Oktoberfest, by calling the event Liquid Crystal Fest and serving beer.

The event, which ran from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., offered both a morning and afternoon session.

The morning session, which was geared more toward scientific research of liquid crystals, began with an opening speech from John West, vice president of research and dean of graduate studies.

“I hope you all realize the potential that sits in this facility and utilize it,” West said.

Graduate students in the CPIP also gave presentations during the morning session, which represented the research they have been doing at the institute.

After a lunch break, the event resumed with a poster session on the institute’s third floor. Students, such as Heung-Shik Park, a fourth-year graduate student from Korea, were able to show off their research at the institute.

Park said he has been working on his research topic, titled “Entropically driven condensed phase of LCLC’s,” for about six months.

As the poster session went on, companies involved in liquid crystal technology held an exhibition on the institute’s second floor to talk to students in the program and show off what they have been doing.

AlphaMicron, Inc., a Kent-based company, displayed ski goggles with visors that become tinted with the push of a button.

Speakers during the afternoon session included Jim Yuan, described as “one of Kent State’s most distinguished alumni,” by L.C. Chien, immediate past chair of the event, and Mary Neubert, emeritus senior research fellow.

Neubert, who first came to work at Kent State in 1972, spoke about the beginning of the institute and how far it has come.

“I never imagined I would be a part of such a successful venture,” Neubert said.

Among other things, Neubert talked about the institute’s first home: the Lincoln Building.

The building, which was never meant to be used for scientific purposes, had no elevators, bad electrical wiring and poor air circulation.

“Everyone had a chance to see what organic chemicals smelled like,” Neubert joked.

The event closed with a panel discussion about the future of liquid crystals, an award ceremony and a word of appreciation from event coordinators.

Contact science reporter Justin Armburger at [email protected].