August 19, 2011
By: by Larry Rulison Business Writer
ALBANY -- U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Thursday that he is trying to convince the Department of Defense to start making its computer chips at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
Schumer was in Canandaigua to announce a $3 million federal grant to renovate a semiconductor manufacturing center that the NanoCollege owns there. The money will go toward improving 9,400 square feet of clean room space that will be used by a company called Moser Baer to make organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.
Moser Baer, an Indian company that expects to eventually hire as many as 150 workers, is spending $17 million on the project.
Schumer's other announcement could be even more important for the Capital Region as well as for the Finger Lakes. Schumer said he called U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to ask him to reconsider plans by the Defense Department to spend $30 million a year over five years to retrofit an antiquated semiconductor manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., in favor of making its chips at the NanoCollege, which has state-of-the-art equipment.
"I will fight tooth and nail for it to become home to the new $30 million Secure Chip Foundry plant that the defense department is hoping to establish next year," Schumer said.
Alain Kaloyeros, chief executive officer of the NanoCollege, said if it's selected, the chips would be made in Albany and then packaged with sensors in Canandaigua. The NanoCollege assumed control of the state-funded Canandaigua facility last year. It specialized in so-called MEMs, which stands for micro-electrical mechanical systems that pair computer chips with sensors. The military is extremely interested in MEMs to help troops in combat detect threats such as biological warfare agents.
Schumer said the Sacramento facility would struggle to update its manufacturing equipment even to older 200-millimeter technology that uses 8-inch silicon wafers to make chips. The NanoCollege already has modern 300-millimeter equipment using 12-inch wafers. The Canandaigua facility is already accredited by the Defense Department, Schumer said, and the NanoCollege has already filed for its certification as a so-called Trusted Foundry.
The military used such facilities as a way to ensure that its technology does not fall into the hands of enemy governments.
Kaloyeros also said getting the DOD work would solidify a push to be named a DOD lab specializing in nanotechnology research. That designation could bring tens of millions of dollars in federal investment to the school.
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Schumer-launches-a-chip-offensive-2122683.php#ixzz1VUQ6rtro