Dr. John West: "Liquid Crystals & Flexible Electronics"

Dr. West joined the LCI staff in 1984 and joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry in 1997.  Since then he has served as Director of the Liquid Crystal Institute (1997-2003) and Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies (2003-2010).  He is now a University Trustee Research Professor.  His research focuses on three main areas:  responsive fibers, chiral induction in liquid crystals and flexible electronics.

His responsive fibers research focuses on the formation, characterization and applications of complex fibers, consisting of a liquid crystal core surrounded by a polymer sheath.  These fibers are formed by electro-spinning1,2 or airbrushing3 of a homogeneous solution of the liquid crystal and polymer dissolved in a common solvent.  The resulting fibers respond to a wide variety of external stimuli with potential applications in flexible electronics, wearable technology and medical sensors.

He research on chiral induction concentrates on the role of conformation in the helical twisting power of chiral additives in a nematic liquid crystal host. He is also exploring how conformation propagates in the “achiral” nematic host.  Working with colleagues in the Ukraine, he has recently explored very long pitch length chiral nematic mixtures demonstrating that the pitch length changes linearly with the inverse of the concentration of the chiral additive even at very low concentrations.4

He continues his role in fostering the growth of an industrial cluster in Northeast Ohio for the manufacture of flexible electronics devices.  With a core of companies spun off from the Liquid Crystal Institute, a growing group of companies at all levels of the supply chain have joined this cluster, known as FLEXMatters.  Dr. West established FLEXMatters while on a sabbatical at NORTECH in 2007.  Most recently he invented a new technology for making patterned transparent electrodes on flexible substrates.5 He has filed three patents on this new technology and established a new company, FITOS, to commercialize the technology.

  1. Ebru A. Buyuktanir, John L. West and Margaret W. Frey, “Optically responsive liquid crystal microfibers for display and non-display applications,” Proc. SPIE 7955,  (2011).
  2. M. Varga, J. Morvan, N. Diorio, E. Buyuktanir, J. Harden, J. L. West, and A. Jakli, “Direct piezoelectric responses of soft composite fiber mats.”  Appl. Phys. Lett., 102, 153903, (2013).
  3. Wang, J., Jákli, A. and West, J. L. “Airbrush Formation of Liquid Crystal/Polymer Fibers”. ChemPhysChem, 16: 1839–1841, (2015).
  4. D. Kasyanyuk, K. Slyusarenko. J. West, M. Vasnetsov, Y Reznikov, “Formation of liquid-crystal cholesteric pitch in the centimeter range.”  Phys. Rev. E, 89, 22503, (2014).
  5. J. L. West, D. Lee, “Cracked ITO on polyester film substrates for electro-optic applications,  Applied Mechanical Materials”, 526, 15, (2014).