Inventor Spotlight: John Ballato
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.
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