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Oral History Interview with J. William Doane by Matthew Crawford
August 9, 2021
Liquid Crystal Oral History Project
Transcript produced by Sharp Copy Transcription
NOTE TO USERS: Sharp Copy Transcription, an independent transcription service, produced the original version of this transcript from the digital audio files of this oral history interview. In this case, the interviewee, upon review of the original transcript, substantially revised and enhanced their responses to the interviewer's questions. If this interview is important to you, you are advised to consult the original digital audio files and any additional files related to the interview in the Kent State University Special Collections and University Archives.
[Start Part 1]
J. WILLIAM DOANE: Good morning.
DOANE: I would say it was '83 maybe, something like that. Early 80s. Then, I saw that maybe this was an opportunity for a university to get involved in display research. I began to see a problem with the liquid crystal field, all of the display work was being done in industry, and all these people were going to these display society meetings, while the liquid crystal materials people doing basic research were going to the International Liquid Crystal Society. The two seemed isolated from each other. I was surprised at this.
CRAWFORD: Yeah. But it sounds like it was, in some ways, good for the LCI because [inaudible].
MATTHEW CRAWFORD: My name is Matthew Crawford. I'm an Associate Professor and Historian of Science in the Department of History at Kent State University. Today, I'm interviewing Dr. J. William Doane, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Emeritus Director of the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University, as well as Co-Founder and Senior Advisor at Kent Displays. Today's date is Monday, August 16th, 2021. This is our third session. Dr. Doane, thanks for agreeing to speak to me again.
DOANE: I don't know how you define a pioneer, but I would say that my primary contributions, while I've published a lot and written a lot of patents, was more in working with others, getting others involved, building a program for Kent State University. Then, founding Kent Displays. I think people see me more in that light than in terms of making a big scientific contribution. I didn't know it at the time, but I think the biggest discovery for me was the polymer dispersion. That was a discovery that turned out to be not only of scientific interest but also ended up in many applications. Of all the discoveries I've made, that was probably the one that made the biggest splash. The discoveries with magnetic resonance were recognized, but only by academic researchers within the field. [Laugh] [Polymer dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs) became known in industry as well, worldwide.]
DOANE: I think that may be one of my best contributions, actually.
Liquid Crystal Oral History: Doane, J. William (Transcript Only)
Crawford, Matthew James
Doane, J. William
An oral history interview with J. William Doane, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Emeritus Director of the Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI) at Kent State University, and Co-Founder and Senior Advisor at Kent Displays, Inc., in Kent, Ohio. This interview is part of the Liquid Crystal Oral History Project. Doane discusses his life and especially his career as the Director of the Liquid Crystal Institute. He was born in Western Nebraska, later moving to Southwest Missouri for high school and eventually attending the University of Missouri and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He earned his PhD from the University of Missouri in 1965. Doane became Assistant Director of the LCI (1979-1983) under Glenn Brown and served as the Director from 1983 to 1996. His leadership positions at the LCI focused on building connections and looking for opportunities, while his research focused on the basic science of liquid crystals and later applications for display technologies. Under Doane, the LCI received significant funding from state, federal, and corporate sources including Project THEMIS, DARPA, and the National Science Foundation. Doane was involved in the invention of polymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs). The relationship and collaboration between industry and Kent State University during Doane’s directorship was important to the growth of the LCI. From 1991 to 1996, Doane also served as the first Director of the Center Advanced Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials (ALCOM), an NSF-funded Science and Technology Center that included collaborations with University of Akron and Case Western Reserve University. Doane later helped create spin-off companies, such as Kent Displays, Inc. which was established in 1993. He retired from Kent State University and the LCI in 1996.Only the transcript is available at this time.
Sponsors: This oral history interview was funded in part by a Grant-In-Aid from the Center for the History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics and Kent Displays, Inc.
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Special Collections and Archives
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Kent State University
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Doane, J. William
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