Kent State University
(KSU) is attempting to go where no project has gone before. In collaboration with AlphaMicron Inc.
(AMI), Akron Polymer Systems
(APS), Crystal Diagnostics
(CDx), the Liquid Crystal Institute
(LCI) and Kent Displays Inc.
(KDI), KSU was awarded $3 million for its “New Concept Devices Based on Nanoscale Engineering of Polymer-Liquid Crystal Interface” project.
If it is successful, the research project could have very wide-ranging consumer benefit. “The project ultimately aims to develop consumer electronic products that make the life of ordinary people better, just like the liquid crystal TVs have positively changed our lives in a manner completely unimaginable 40 years ago," explains the Director of LCI, Hiroshi Yokoyama. He lists a slew of new inventions that could be generated by the end of the three-year project, including new electronic tablet capabilities.
“The $3 million grant was awarded under the Innovation Platform Program
, one of the support programs run by the Ohio Department of Development
under the umbrella of the Ohio Third Frontier
,” adds Yokoyama. The grant will be used to hire research staff to form a dedicated team in each partner and to purchase necessary supplies.
Each of the project partners has a different goal. “In close collaboration with Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute, KDI will develop and commercialize the next generation Boogie Board [zero-power electronic notepad using liquid crystals] with narrower line and select erase capability," says Yokoyama.
AMI’s goal will be to perfect the optical clarity of the Special Warfare Electronic Eyewear program to meet the stringent specifications required by Navy SEALs in battlefield.
For CDx, Yokoyama explains they will “advance their strength in pathogen detection systems by developing a robust design of liquid crystal interface that allows them to manufacture the device by roll-to-roll process.”
Meanwhile, APS will develop specialty polymers tailored for the target products of KDI, AMI and CDx with mass manufacturing compatible synthetic routes. “The LCI will work together with all of them to analyze their technical issues and develop solutions.”
Yet overall, the project aims to advance technology that may soon find its way into consumers' hands while also benefiting the environment. “We are looking into lighter, energy efficient, human and environment friendly electronics products, taking full advantage of liquid crystals and polymers.”
Source: Hiroshi Yokoyama
Writer: Joe Baur