Sacramento State University physicist Dr. Vassili Sergan
SACRAMENTO, CA - When the Academy Awards were first handed out in 1929, you couldn't watch a movie in your home.
But today, flat screen TVs make watching movies in your living room more fun than ever. A physicist at Sacramento State University helped to revolutionize how we watch television.
When LCD technology first hit the market 20 years ago, watching a movie on a flat screen TV was not so spectacular.
"In the 1980's and 90's, liquid crystal displays were very slow," recalls Sacramento State University physicist Dr. Vassili Sergan. "You couldn't watch TV. You couldn't watch a movie on it."
Sergan helped to turn a picture that was dull, fuzzy and jerky, into one that is now brilliant and fluid. His research into LCD technology transformed flat screen televisions.
"The problems were really clear from the beginning," Sergan said. "Some of the solutions are non-trivial. And I'm glad I found some of them."
What he found was a way to increase the "switching speed" of LCD pixels; in other words, how fast millions of red, green and blue pixels can turn on and off. "Switching speed" produces the thousands of colors on an LCD flat screen and the smooth and clear motion.
"It gives me some satisfaction," Sergan said. "It gives me some bragging rights."
Sergan's passion for LCD technology began many years ago when someone gave him his first liquid crystal display watch. For the past 10 years, he has taught physics and conducted LCD research at Sacramento State University.
Now, Sergan is once again ready to revolutionize how we see the world using LCD technology.
Sergan has invented a flat LCD lens that could become the next generation of eyeglasses. A low voltage current running through the liquid crystal changes the focal length of the lens. A single LCD eyeglass lens would allow a person to see objects up close and far in the distance, eliminating the need for bi-focal and tri-focal lenses.
"It will actually improve eyesight dramatically compared to regular glasses," Sergan said.
The technology is still a few years away from going into production.
The key to his latest research is an optical measuring device. The instruments sell for more than $300,000. But Dr. Sergan designed his own device and had it built in a machine shop at Sac State for $20,000.
Sergan is currently working to use LCD technology with solar energy. He is developing a solar collector that could light entire office buildings with the sun's rays.
He is also using LCD technology to develop a highly efficient solar cell; as the sun moves across the sky, its rays would still remain directly focused on the solar cell for maximum efficiency.