Magic ski goggles, speakers highlight Liquid Crystal Day

Douglas M. Kafury

Professionals, students and grade-school children were all in attendance for Liquid Crystal Day 2005 Friday.

The second annual event held by the Liquid Crystal Institute was in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the institute.

Event Chair L.C. Chien said he was very pleased with the turnout at the event.

“The event went very well,” Chien said. “The more participants, the better. So I’m happy about what we had this year.”

The event featured speakers, industrial exhibitions, research displays and a tour of the facility.

LCI founder the late Glenn H. Brown was honored at the event. His widow, Jessie Brown, received a lifetime-contribution award for his achievements.

Industrial exhibitors at the event included AlphaMicron, Inc.; Hana Microdisplay Technologies, Inc.; Kent Displays, Inc.; LXD, Inc.; and Kent State University Research and Graduate Studies.

One of the more popular industrial exhibits among the children was the display from AlphaMicron, Inc. Project Coordinator Jon Ruth was displaying UVEX’s F1 Magic Ski Goggle, which uses patented AlphaMicron technology.

“It’s a standard UVEX frame, but we added a liquid-crystal lens layer and then designed and built the battery pack,” Ruth said. “You switch it and you can change the tint, which means you don’t have to carry two pairs of goggles in case the lighting conditions change while you’re skiing.”

The industrial exhibitors also benefited from the event. A. Keith Bellamy, project manager for Kent Displays, Inc., said the event is a great opportunity to interact with students who may be interested in working in the industry and also show what kinds of technologies they are working on.

The Naval Research Laboratory’s Jonathan Selinger, who will become LCI’s eminent scholar July 1, was one of the featured speakers at the event and said the event was a good opportunity to share his research with others. Selinger said the type of applications for liquid crystals is advancing from the traditional display technology. His presentation dealt with the theory liquid crystalline elastomers, which is a new kind of material that could have biological applications.

“It shows a lot of promise as a piece that could go into a robotic system, which serves the function of a muscle for a robot, or it could make sort of an artificial fin,” Selinger said. “There is this work on new muscle systems, there’s also work on using liquid crystals to make biological sensors.”

At the end of the event, Chien announced Liquid Crystal Day 2006 would be held in Providence, R.I.

Chien said there were 128 registered guests for the event, which is an increase from last year.

There were also 32 research displays, which was an increase from 28 at last year’s event, Chien said. Most of the displays were based on student research, and the best ones were awarded at the end of the event.

Sponsors for the event included the Kent State University Office of the President, LCI Emeritus Director and Professor J. William Doane and the LCI Industrial Partnership Program. These sponsors contributed $2,500 for the event, which is a decrease of $1,500 from last year’s contributions, according to Chien.

Contact science reporter Douglas M. Kafury at [email protected].