for Research and
Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
President's Award for Research and Creative Activity
Dr. Vassili Sergan Awarded the
2011-2012 President's Award
The President’s Award for Research and Creative Activity was established in 1989. It is given each year to recognize extraordinary research and creative activity over the past five years by a member of the Sacramento State faculty. Nominees for the award must be in their first ten years of service at Sacramento State.
The recipient of the 2011-12 President’s Award for Research and Creative Activity is Dr. Vassili Sergan, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Sergan received his master’s degree from Rovno State Pedagogic Institute, Ukraine in 1984 and his Ph.D. in physics from the Institute of Physics, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in 1990. Dr. Sergan’s distinguished record involves the area of liquid crystals, and more broadly, optics and electro-optical systems.
Since joining Sacramento State in 2002, Dr. Sergan has created a fully operational research facility that includes a class-100 clean room, a liquid crystal cell manufacturing facility, and a complete characterization system that is capable of various electro-optical measurements. In its manufacturing and research capabilities, the facility matches the world-leading Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. He built up this facility, currently valued at about $1 million, with a $20K start-up grant provided by Sacramento State. He subsequently acquired a number of unique and costly research tools (including two confocal microscopes in 2010) as donations and by means of grant funding, relying on his connections with the liquid crystal display industry and research collaborations with established laboratories. He has succeeded in dealing with the high cost of liquid crystal display research by relying on a combination of grants, contracts and donations from larger institutions and commercial enterprises, as well as on his extensive experience in building scientific instruments.
It is no exaggeration to state that any time one looks at a liquid crystal monitor for a computer or television set, or a cell phone display, one is looking at a technology that Dr. Sergan was involved in and has contributed to, both in the initial development phase as well as subsequent improvements. Dr. Sergan developed a new method of building liquid crystal optical elements, including lenses with variable focal length, switchable gratings, and prisms. He also developed a method of manufacturing bistable “green” liquid crystal displays which requires power only to change the displayed image. He has been actively involved in developing the “Electro-Optical Measurement” (EOM) software, an optical measurement and diagnostics system that constitutes a vital part of the liquid crystal research labs at Sacramento State and the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. This versatile system has been adopted by Hana Microdisplay Systems, 3M, Motorola and Eastman Chemicals. EOM performs a variety of measurements, is highly adaptable, and can be (and is already being) used in the classroom. Dr. Sergan decided to design and build his own set of hardware for EOM, working with the Natural Sciences and Mathematics machine shop, to ensure that it was well suited to the specific teaching and research needs at Sacramento State.
His record includes more than 40 papers in peer-reviewed journals, several patents, and numerous presentations at national and international conferences and symposia. These include papers in such prestigious physics journals as Physical Reviews E and Chemical Physics Letters. Among the more than 40 research papers he has published in refereed journals, a few are referenced in almost every recent book on liquid crystal physics due to their fundamental importance to the subject.