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Professor Sergan receives research award


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Sacramento State's 2011-2012 President's Award for Research and Creative Activity has been presented to Professor Vassili Sergan, Department of Physics and Astronomy. The ceremony took place in the University Center Restaurant on Nov. 8.

This annual honor recognizes 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 10 years of service at Sacramento State.

Vassili Sergan
Professor Vassili Sergan.

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 capabilities of world-leading centers.

Sac State’s facility is currently valued at about $1 million, with a $20,000 start-up grant from the University.  Sergan subsequently acquired a number of unique and costly research tools (including two confocal microscopes in 2010) through donations and grants, 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 his extensive experience in building scientific instruments and a combination of grants, contracts and donations from larger institutions and commercial enterprises.

Look at a liquid crystal monitor for a computer or television set, or a cell phone display, and odds are one is seeing some of Sergan’s technology.

Among his recent achievements is a development of a new method of building liquid crystal optical elements, including switchable lenses with variable focal length, switchable gratings, and prisms. This technology is protected by two U.S. patents (pending) and will be used by PixelOptics Inc. in their manufacturing process.  He also developed a method of manufacturing bistable “green” liquid crystal displays which require power only to change the displayed image.

Sergan has developed 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 and University of Colorado, as well as many leading Liquid Crystal research and development companies. 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 is already being used in the classroom.

He designed and built 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.

Sergan received his master’s degree from Rovno State Pedagogic Institute, Ukraine, in 1984 and his Ph.D. in solid state physics from the Institute of Physics, National Academy of Sciences of the Ukraine in 1990. His distinguished record involves the area of liquid crystals, and more broadly, optics and electro-optical systems.

Sergan’s list of publications includes more than 40 research papers and patents. His work was presented on multiple occasions at international conferences and symposia.

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

– Alan Miller