John Ballato

John Ballato

CLEMSON — John Ballato of Clemson University has been elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), an honor that recognizes prolific innovators whose efforts have benefitted U.S. economic development and quality of life.

Academic inventors and innovators elected to the academy were nominated for outstanding contributions to innovation in such areas as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, and significant impact on society.

Members include Nobel Prize laureates; National Medal recipients; and members of the U.S. national academies of science, engineering and medicine.

Rajendra Bordia, chair of Clemson’s materials science and engineering department, congratulated Ballato on the honor.

“This is well-deserved,” Bordia said. “John’s credentials as a researcher and innovator in the field of optical materials are impeccable.”

A serial entrepreneur and professor of materials science and engineering, Ballato is the inaugural holder of the J.E. Sirrine Endowed Chair of Optical Fiber. He has previously served Clemson as vice president for economic development, interim vice president for research, associate vice president for research and economic development and founding director of the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET).

Over his 25 years fabricating novel optical fibers and related photonic materials, Ballato holds 33 U.S. and foreign patents, has published in excess of 300 technical articles and has co-founded three South Carolina-based companies.

John Ballato, right, works in a lab.

John Ballato, right, works in a lab.

His undergraduate and graduate work at Rutgers University led to 15 U.S. and foreign patents, 14 of which either were sold or commercially licensed and moved toward commercialization prior to the telecommunication downturn in the late 1990s.

Upon joining the faculty at Clemson in 1997, Ballato expanded his scholarly and innovative activities, which resulted in 18 additional U.S. patents issued to date with several others pending. These patents cover a wide range of technologies and applications ranging from nanocomposites to transparent metals to optical fibers and laser crystals. Twenty-one of his 33 patents have been either sold to, licensed by or jointly developed with industrial partners.

As an indication of the utility of his work, one of Ballato’s patents (7,265,174), was named No. 2 in the Top 10 nanomaterial patents for 2007 by Nanotechnology Law and Business journal.

Among numerous other honors, Ballato is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE) and the American Ceramic Society (ACerS).

In 2014, he received the Clemson University Class of ’39 Award for Excellence, and the South Carolina Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research. His collaborative work on Anderson-localizing optical fiber was chosen as one of Physics World’s Top Ten Breakthroughs for that year, following the Rosetta space probe landing on a comet.