Federal Laboratory Consortium Recognizes Dr. Shashidhar for Advances in Liquid Crystal Technology

6/6/1999 - 22-99r
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Dr. Ranganathan Shashidhar of the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering (CBMSE) is the recipient of the 1999 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award (FLC) for Excellence in Technology Transfer. FLC presented the award to Dr. Shashidhar at the 25th Anniversary National Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April.

Dr. Shashidhar, who heads CBMSE's Laboratory for Molecularly Engineered Materials and Surfaces, has made significant contributions to the development of advanced liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and has been instrumental in transferring these technologies to industry through cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) and licensing agreements.

Advanced liquid crystals are of major importance to the Navy, DoD and the commercial sector for such applications as hand-held displays for book and field applications, ambient readable displays for outdoor use; electronic maps for navigation, as well as electronic manuals for on-site maintenance and repair for fleets of vehicles, including trucks, airplanes and ships.

With his colleagues, Dr. Shashidhar has developed several new classes of materials that have revolutionized liquid crystal technology. For example, Dr. Shashidhar and his group designed and developed a whole new family of electroclinic liquid crystals with at least 256 grayscales and response times of less than 100 microseconds, both of which are critical to fast, high resolution displays. Four CRADAs are currently in place with commercial companies to develop reflective, high resolution displays using these new crystals.

Liquid crystal molecules must be aligned uniformly on conducting glass substrates in order for any type of liquid crystal display to operate. Current LCD manufacturing uses an alignment technology that will not support displays of the future. Dr. Shashidhar, working with other researchers at CBMSE, has developed a novel alignment technology that will support higher resolutions, plastic-based displays and infrared displays. Following a two-year CRADA with the Shipley Company, this technology has been patented and licensed for commercial use.

Through Dr. Shashidhar's investigation of polymer films, and as a result of an approach that he and others at NRL developed to increase the conductivity of these films, it will be possible to substitute plastic substrates for glass substrates, thereby allowing displays to be made that are far lighter, more durable and more shock resistant than displays now available.

Working under a one-year program funded by the Office of Naval Research in the mid 1990s, Dr. Shashidhar demonstrated the first fully multiplexed plastic display, with over 25,000 independently addressed pixels. Since that time, Dr. Shashidhar and his colleagues have demonstrated displays with 50% higher resolution than is available in commercial laptop computers. With current research continuing under an ongoing CRADA, polymer-based plastic technology is expected to begin a new generation of LCD products.

Dr. Shashidhar holds a B.S., M.S. and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Mysore in India. In 1971, after completing his education, Dr. Shashidhar served first as a lecturer at the University of Mysore, then as a scientist/professor at the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, India, and later as a senior visiting professor at the Ruhr University in Bochum, West Germany. Between 1983 and 1987, Dr. Shashidhar worked as a visiting scientist at AT&T Bell Labs and as a visiting professor at M.I.T. From 1988 until 1993, Dr. Shashidhar was both a research professor at Georgetown University and a senior scientist at Geo-Centers. In 1993, Dr. Shashidhar joined NRL in his current position.

Dr. Shashidhar has received three NRL Alan Berman publication awards, an NRL Edison patent award, and the 1984 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Physical Sciences, India's highest award. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the International Liquid Crystal Society, as the editor of the international publication Liquid Crystals, and as a member of the International High Pressure Association's executive committee.

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