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Developing Energy-Saving Technologies

Posted Jun. 23, 2014

Research Profile: Quan Li, Ph.D.

Senior Research Fellow, Liquid Crystal Institute

Quan Li photo
Quan Li

Quan Li, who won a 2014 Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award at Kent State, was cited by a colleague for interests that are “at the forefront of societal needs with strong research programs centered on energy and photonic materials.”

Li, senior research fellow in the Liquid Crystals Institute and adjunct professor in chemical physics at Kent State,  is a leading researcher in the fields of molecular design, functional nanomaterials and self-assembly. Currently he is working on light-harvesting liquid crystals for self-organizing photovoltaics, “smart” energy-saving devices, and more.

He recently won a Ohio Third Frontier grant to test and build a small-scale prototype of a “smart” window that will not only darken or lighten to reduce glare and provide privacy but will control heat flow for energy savings.

Li and his Ph.D. students will test the feasibility of the liquid crystal technology. The glass, which can switch from clear to opaque and vice versa, could have applications in automobile and aircraft windshields, where quick changes are needed to block sun glare. It would also provide privacy control for bathrooms, offices, and hospitals, for example.

Unlike other switchable windows, it will control energy and heat flow, making it useful for windows in large buildings, greenhouses, and windows that are otherwise hard to shade from the sun or cover in cold weather.

Li’s prototype will be shown to window companies for possible licensing or for further technology development.

Li has edited four books in the past four years and has written more than 20 book chapters and encyclopedia entries, along with many journal publications and patents.  Over the past several years Li has been a principal investigator in federal projects totaling $15 million, supported by federal agencies that include the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, and by the Ohio Third Frontier program, and he has sponsored and advised 17 postdoctoral associates and several Ph.D. students.

He earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1995 from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Shanghai. In 1998 became the youngest full professor there in organic and medicinal chemistry and the following year received CAS’s One Hundred Talents award. He held visiting professorships and visiting scientist positions in France, Germany and at the University of Oregon and was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow in Germany. He joined Kent State in 2004 as a senior research fellow in the Liquid Crystal Institute. 

More about Quan Li

Quan Li's Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award