Liquid Crystal Institute receives $100,000 for optical facility

yan Loew

Researchers at the Liquid Crystal Institute have received a monetary boost from the state of Ohio, and the results can be expected to pop up in cell phone and laptop displays.

State Rep. Kathleen Chandler announced last week that Kent State will receive $100,000 via the Wright Operating Grant to expand the Flexible Optical and Electronic Device Manufacturing Facility.

The facility develops manufacturing techniques used in producing optical and electronic devices, and the money from the grant will be used to hire personnel experienced in ink-jet printer technology.

The ink-jet technology will be used to create monitor displays for personal devices such as cell phones, said Hugh Wonderly, a cleanroom engineer for the Liquid Crystal Institute.

“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for Kent State to continue doing the work that we do,” he said. “We’re trying to make it a world-class facility that companies can use.”

The $100,000 grant was a complement to a $1.6 million grant the facility received about 18 months ago, said John West, the interim vice president of Research and Graduate Studies.

Before receiving the grants, the facility had no researchers skilled in ink-jet technology, West said, but now the money will provide that expertise.

”It provides some of the operating support we need to move forward,” he said. “We’re learning a new technology and combining it with our extensive experience in liquid crystal.”

Wonderly said combining existing liquid crystal expertise with ink-jet technology will create a “world-class environment to develop plastic displays.”

“We know a lot about making displays, but we don’t know a lot about ink-jet,” he said. “But we’re going to take our knowledge of the display world and integrate ink-jet technology into our capabilities. This money will help us do that a lot quicker.”

The grant is offered through an Ohio Department of Development Third Frontier Initiative program, which funds non-profit research organizations that develop tools necessary to increase high-paying, technology-based jobs in Ohio, a press release from Chandler said.

“It’s state money being used to further Ohio business,” Humphrey said. “It’s what the industry wants.”

Local independent businesses, such as AlphaMicron Inc., can collaborate with Kent State to use the expanded lab facility. The companies pay the university to use its equipment.

“From a research and development standpoint, local companies are interested in us having this expertise,” West said. “What the university is doing is buying this equipment and making it available for companies to utilize.”

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].