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Kent State Liquid Crystal Researcher Speaks at Ohio Innovation Conference

Posted July 11, 2011

Kent State University researcher and chemistry professor John West from the university’s Liquid Crystal Institute

Kent State University researcher and chemistry professor John West from the university’s Liquid Crystal Institute® was among the top business leaders, government officials and university representatives who participated in the Building the Ohio Innovation Economy conference in Cleveland in late April.

The state innovation conference, organized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in cooperation with The University of Akron and NorTech, included talks by U.S. Senator Rob Portman, U. S. Rep. Tim Ryan, University of Akron President Luis Proenza, AlphaMicron CEO Bahman Taheri and Kent Displays CEO Albert Green. AlphaMicron and Kent Displays are Kent-based high-tech companies that were founded by former faculty members of Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute and create innovative liquid crystal-based products.

“The goal of the conference was to engage Ohio business and political leaders with high-level U.S. government officials and others positioned to help drive innovation, business formation and growth in Ohio,” says Charles Wessner, director of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship for the National Academies. “We convened local and national leaders to highlight the accomplishments and growth of the innovation ecosystem in Ohio, while also identifying needs, challenges and opportunities.”

The National Academy plans to issue a report based on the conference that will reinforce these goals and enhance understanding of the accomplishments and potential of the state.

West discussed the latest developments in the field of flexible electronics at the presentation “Growing the Ohio Flexible Electronics Industry” at the conference.

West joined Kent State in 1984 as a senior research fellow of the Liquid Crystal Institute. He served as director of the Liquid Crystal Institute and of the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials (ALCOM) from 1996 to 2002 and served as vice president for research and dean of graduate studies at Kent State from 2003 to 2010. During that time, he worked with NorTech to establish FlexMatters, a collaboration designed to support the growth of the flexible electronics industry in Ohio. West now splits his time between Kent State and Central Washington University, where he is establishing a research foundation and helping to move innovation from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Since 1965, the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State has been engaged in the fundamental and applied research aimed at developing new technologies. This work translated into the growth of new companies that manufacture products made of “soft” materials, such as liquid crystals and polymers.

“Research performed at the Liquid Crystal Institute and similar centers around the world led to the establishment of the $150 billion industry of liquid crystal displays that are found in laptops, flat panel TVs, cellular phones, iPads and practically every device that brings us information,” says Oleg Lavrentovich, former director of the institute. “We are extremely pleased that the Liquid Crystal Institute continues to be an active participant in the development of the innovation-driven economy of Ohio.”

For more information on Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute, visit