Professor at Sac State explores new levels of LCD technology

Elisha Angrisani

Sacramento State physics professor Vassili Sergan has taken his research on campus to the next level with two projects using liquid crystals.

Sergan has worked at Sac State for 10 years, and has been doing his research on top of teaching full time as a physics professor.

He helped revolutionize the liquid crystal display television developing a liquid crystal display to perfect the picture on flat-screen televisions. Without the liquid crystal display the picture would not be as clear as it is today.

With the LCD, the image on the screen is sharper and smooth. The display allows the LCD pixels to move at a faster pace back and forth really quickly.

The professor continues to work on other projects involving liquid crystals. An optical lens using the liquid crystals is in production, which would aid people who wear eyeglasses.

Sergan has been interested in working with liquid crystals since the early ‘80s. The project involving the display for the television and the lens for the eyeglasses are self-supported and are mostly funded through grants.

“We have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants,” Sergan said. “Different sources like the Air Force and many private companies have also been a big part of where the grants come from.”

The research is still being done on campus, but production of the liquid crystal lens for the eyeglasses still has some time to be perfected.

“Research is on a little bit of a break right now because I am teaching a full load,” Sergan said.

Sergan also explained there is a need for more money through a sponsor to make better equipment.

He said just because there is a break does not mean the work stops. He and other colleagues and students continue to do research in the Sequoia Hall Room 130 lab any chance he gets.

Sergan said he designs his own equipment and sends it to the machine shop to be made.

The machine shop on the Sac State campus has aided Sergan in taking his designs and making the equipment so he could further his research.

The optical lens was created in the research lab, but the instruments to conduct his research were designed by him and built in Sac States’ machine shop

To test and measure an optical lens, it takes instruments that can cost more than $300,000. With the help of the machine shop at Sac State, Sergan designed the instrument and had the machine shop build the instruments for $20,000.

Since being at Sac State, Sergan has seen the university go through changes like tuition hikes and fuller classes. He said the workload is greater, but the teaching is still the same.

Since his research at Sac State, he said he is a little embarrassed by all of the attention he is getting.

There is a senior project within the department and undergraduates spend one or two semesters working on their research or will get a chance to work with Sergan on his research.

Sasha Moskaleva, senior physics major, said even though she didn’t do her senior project with Sergan; she still has classes with him.

“It is really cool to have some professors who are not only focused on the academic part, but also have connections on the outside with other areas,” Moskaleva said.

Moskaleva also said it is cool to have a professor who is well-rounded and regarded so high in his field.

Sergan said when students work hard with their research it does not matter what college they go to.

“The name of the school doesn’t matter if you’re working hard you can get anywhere you want,” Sergan said “We have had physics majors who have entered graduate schools at Stanford, Harvard and Berkeley.”

Elisha Angrisani can be reached at [email protected].