Inventor Spotlight: John Ballato

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Dr. John Ballato, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Clemson University, is engineering optical fibers for the future and transforming the fundamental pipeline of innovation. Dr. Ballato completed his undergraduate studies at Rutgers University in 1993, where he and his mentor, Elias Snitzer, “the father of the glass laser”, invented a new process for manufacturing optical fibers called the Molten Core Method. This novel approach enhances the number of chemical compounds that can be used to create new optical fibers and, today, is used in more than 40 countries globally. The Molten Core Method has led to the development of numerous technologies and practical applications worldwide. Ballato received his Ph.D. in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from Rutgers University in 1997. During his time as a Ph.D. candidate, Ballato earned 14 patents from his dissertation work. Since then he has received an additional 20 US and foreign patents. 

After joining the Clemson family in 1997 as an assistant professor, Ballato co-founded the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET), a major interdisciplinary research center. Currently, his research focuses on new optical materials and structures for high-value photonic and optoelectronic applications. Additionally, Dr. Ballato’s team develops specialty optical fibers for high energy laser, biomedical, and industrial uses. While at Clemson, he has received over sixty million dollars in grants, contracts, and gifts.

Outside of his academic achievements, Ballato has founded two technology companies. His significant research and numerous contributions to society have earned him a number of honors, among them election into the National Academy of Inventors and the World Academy of Ceramics. In addition to his research, Ballato has worked to mold the next generation of inventors by serving on 120 graduate student thesis committees and teaching over 2,000 students.  

To learn more about Dr. John Ballato, click here.

Jeremy Mercuri: Inventor Spotlight

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Dr. Jeremy Mercuri, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, has been a part of the Clemson University family since receiving his M.S. in Bioengineering from Clemson in 2006. He continued on to earn his Ph.D., also from Clemson, in Bioengineering in 2011. Prior to joining Clemson as a faculty member, Dr. Mercuri spent a number of years in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. Most recently, Dr. Mercuri worked as a senior research engineer within Stryker’s Orthobiologies division. He also has previous experience as a research engineer within the biomechanical testing group at Medtronic Spinal and Biologics. 

Dr. Mercuri’s research interests are concentrated in orthopaedic regenerative medicine. His lab, the Laboratory of Orthopaedic Tissue Regeneration and Orthobiologics (OrthO-X Lab), focuses on the development of regenerative medicine technologies that are used to restore the anatomy and physiology of damaged or diseased musculoskeletal tissues. Founded in 2013 by Mercuri, the lab is composed of undergraduate and graduate students who lead projects and work to maintain collaborative relationships with clinicians and medical device industry representatives. 

Mercuri’s innovative research and industry experience has led him to receive 3 patents and has given him the tools and expertise necessary to significantly impact the healthcare industry.  

To learn more about Dr. Mercuri, click here

Apparao Rao: Inventor Spotlight

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Dr. Apparao Rao is the R. A. Bowen Professor of Physics at Clemson University. A long-time inventor and innovator, Rao received his Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from the University of Kentucky in 1989 prior to serving as a post-doctoral research associate at MIT. His first work as a professor was at the University of Kentucky before he joined Clemson in 2000. During his time at Clemson, Rao has founded and continues to direct the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI) and serves as the Associate Dean for Discovery for the College of Science. Being a Fellow of the American Physical Society, AAAS, and more recently the National Academy of Inventors, Rao has been awarded with multiple honors.

Rao’s laboratory has explored many different aspects of nanomaterials. At the fundamental level, his team has innovated novel synthesis methods and spectroscopic characterization methods for nanomaterials. Some of the recent applications include triboelectric nanogenerators and electrochemical energy storage devices. These technologies can lead to a greener, more affordable, and sustainable future across the globe. 

Over the past seventeen years, Dr. Rao has served Clemson well. His research and inventions have earned him accolades, while his time directing the CNI has anchored him as a prestigious faculty member and mentor to many future researchers. 

To learn more about Dr. Rao and his research, click here