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Posted: Jan 23, 2012

Schumer and officials tour future NY nanotechnology chip foundry site

(Nanowerk News) Today, at the Electronics Park in Salina, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined APIC CEO Dr. Raj Dutt and other officials for a tour of the facility that will be renovated to make way for a nanotechnology chip foundry that could bring 200 high-tech jobs to Syracuse. Schumer is pushing the U.S. Navy to fund a partnership between defense contractor APIC and SUNY Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, that would manufacture nanochips for the U.S. Navy at the Salina plant. Building #3 at the Electronics Park is set to be renovated and equipped with clean rooms and other high-tech equipment to facilitate chip manufacturing thanks to $16 million in state funding from the New York state assembly led by Speaker Sheldon Silver. If the Navy moves forward with the project, APIC could create 200 jobs in Syracuse, helping to create the first nanotechnology manufacturing center in Central New York. Following a tour of the facility, Schumer and Dr. Dutt further detailed the company's plans for expansion into Central New York by the end of the year.
"Nanotechnology as an industry is growing as fast as a runaway freight train across upstate New York, and bringing these key players together at Centerstate today will help schedule that train to stop in Syracuse," said Schumer. "After touring this impressive facility at the Electronics Park, it is crystal clear that Syracuse should be home to APIC's high-tech chip manufacturing project, which could bring 200 jobs to the region, and solidify Central New York as the place to be for this high-tech industry. All of the pieces are in place APIC needs a home to begin its groundbreaking manufacturing, Centerstate is poised for the chip production to happen on site, and CNSE is ready to be a world-class partner for the project all we need is for the Navy to step up to the plate and partner with CNSE to bring these jobs and this work to Syracuse and upstate."
Schumer was joined by APIC CEO Dr. Raj Dutt, Centerstate CEO President Rob Simpson, Assemblyman Sam Roberts and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli as he toured Centerstate's Electronics Park and detailed plans for a nanotechnology chip foundry in Central New York, which hinges on the U.S. Navy's approval of this partnership. APIC, a California-based company that manufactures high-tech nanochips for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and U.S. Navy, is seeking a home to produce the next generation of nanotechnology chips using cutting-edge photonics technology, and Syracuse is their top target. Schumer is urging the U.S. Navy to formalize its partnership with APIC and CNSE and to locate a key element of the next-generation chip manufacturing in a building at the Electronics Park that is owned and being renovated, with support from the New York State Assembly, by Centerstate CEO, a move that would put Syracuse firmly on the chip fab map.
The new APIC-CNSE facility would include:
  • State-of-the art manufacturing facility for next generation of photonic integrated circuits and fiber-optic networks
  • A minimum 15,000 sq ft cleanroom, with potential to grow to 40,000 sq ft
  • All inclusive production capability with the most advanced fabrication equipment and processes
  • First-of-a-kind facility in the U.S. to supply specialty materials for compound semiconductor manufacturers. Currently, these materials must be procured from Taiwan or France.
  • Schumer noted that the success of this partnership between APIC, SUNY'S CNSE and Centerstate would pave the way for Central New York to become a hub for defense chip manufacturing, and would send a signal that New York is the place for this high-tech business. In addition, the success of APIC's project at Centerstate would compliment efforts to bring large scale commercial chip fab projects to Upstate New York.
    The Defense Department, the US Navy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and APIC are developing a program called Network Enabled by Wavelength Division Multiplexed Highly Integrated Photonics, or NEW-HIP, which is the next wave of chip fabrication innovation that uses light instead of actual circuitry. According to Schumer, if the Navy funds APIC and CNSE to work together on the actual production for NEW-HIP, APIC will move into the Syracuse facility to begin production, where it can create scores of new jobs. The Electronics Park has received $28 million in state funding via Speaker Silver and the NY State Assembly to finance renovations that are making the site ready to host a chip-fab facility. $16 million has been directed to Centerstate to help build out and renovate 100,000 square feet of space in Building #3 on the campus, which could host APIC's plant. In recent weeks, the U.S. Navy and DARPA have urged APIC to finalize a location and lock up a strategic partner like CNSE for the production of these new chips. Schumer said that the Electronics Business Park would be a win-win for the Navy and New York.
    More specifically, the NEW-HIP (Network Enabled by Wavelength Division Multiplexed Highly Integrated Photonics) program will allow manufacturers to take the electronic computer components of a ship or an airplane and size it down to a small chip wafer, dramatically increasing its capabilities while operating on a tiny fraction of the energy now needed. Current chips use wiring for their electronic components, but new technology allows the defense department to achieve the same capabilities by utilizing light, ending the need for wires and other hardware components. The final goal of this program is to deliver qualified computer parts that improve military performance and reliability while saving billions of dollars. In order for this to occur, APIC must have a dedicated compound semiconductor fabrication facility, which they will create if the Navy decides to move forward with the project and demand these parts for military applications.
    In his letter, Schumer made a strong case for CNSE, arguing that the college was already a world-leader in this field and has strong support from New York State and Governor Cuomo and the New York State Assembly, which under Speaker Silver has already invested $28 million to create a nanotechnology incubation center at Electronics Park in Syracuse. Schumer also noted that CNSE is currently working with APIC on prototype development and this new relationship would build upon that existing partnership.
    A second military program, Fully Laser Integrated Photonics or FLIP, is also near the production stage and could allow for a second APIC foundry in Albany and a sensor technology integration and packaging operation in Canandaigua, but needs further approval from the Navy. In a letter to Defense Secretary Panetta today, Schumer urged the Secretary to consider bringing both chip manufacturing programs to Upstate New York.
    After initial work by the Intel Corporation and the National Security Agency (NSA), the development of NEW HIP is being led by APIC, a California-based company. Their silicon photonics foundry in Honolulu, HI created the prototype for NEW HIP, and has been instrumental in bringing this networking technology down to the microprocessor level (Fully Laser Integrated Photonics, FLIP). However to accommodate adequate NEW HIP production volumes for the Department of Defense once the technology is mature, a dedicated compound semiconductor fabrication facility is required, which Schumer is pushing to locate in Syracuse. Once a final agreement to bring the NEW HIP production to Syracuse is in place, Schumer believes that a second facility can be developed at Albany's CNSE campus for the FLIP program with sensor technology integration and packaging operations at CNSE's Canandaigua STC campus, bringing nanotech chip work across the three regions of Upstate New York. This second tier of work will also need approval from the Defense Department.
    APIC currently projects that approximately 200 jobs could be created at the Syracuse NEW HIP operation within a matter of a few years, with the potential for scores of additional jobs in Albany and Rochester if the subsequent FLIP program is approved. In the coming weeks, Schumer plans to arrange for a series of high-level meetings for CNSE and APIC with Defense and Navy officials to make the case for New York State as a defense chip manufacturing hub. Schumer also noted that successfully establishing a Syracuse foundry by the end of the year could be New York's foot in the door to bring additional military chip fab work to CNSE's Albany and Rochester Finger Lakes campuses.
    Source: Office of U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
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