February 16, 2012
By: Larry Rulison, Business Writer
Source: Times Union
ALBANY — H. Carl McCall, chairman of SUNY's board of trustees, was the first person to get an inside look at NanoFab Xtension, the new 280,000-square-foot building under construction at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
The facility, which features a 50,000-square-foot clean room at its core, didn't disappoint.
"I think it's pretty amazing," McCall said as he walked through the busy construction zone with NanoCollege chief executive Alain Kaloyeros on Tuesday. "This is a small miracle. And it's something that's going to have a transformational effect. It's going to create a new generation of jobs."
NanoFab Xtension is part of the $4.8 billion computer chip manufacturing research initiative announced in the fall by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that will be largely funded by industry.
One part of that program will be a consortium led by Intel, IBM, GlobalFoundries and others to move the industry to making chips on 450-millimeter wafers from the current 300 mm size, an effort expected to cost the industry tens of billions of dollars.
The focus on 450 mm is already having a transformational effect on the NanoCollege. At 35,000 square feet, the new clean room dwarfs the school's largest clean room now, and the school had to triple the size of its central utility building to accommodate the growth, which has a total price tag of $365 million.
The new clean room has to be so big because the manufacturing equipment for 450 mm wafers is expected to be considerably larger and heavier than the equipment used in 300 mm factories today.
And as technology advances, the production machines on the clean room floor, which are known as "tools" in the industry, will be changed, requiring as much flexibility as possible.
"These are unique facilities because they're not manufacturing, they're research," Kaloyeros said. "Here we have to have tools going in and out all the time."
Jonathan Holder, vice president for facilities and infrastructure at the NanoCollege, estimates the project is about 45 percent complete. At its peak, there will be 400 construction workers on site.
Cuomo's executive budget includes $250 million towards the new initiatives at the college, including the 450 mm program, which if successful would make Albany the epicenter of both research and manufacturing for decades and create thousands of new jobs across upstate.
"This is where it started in New York, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo," Kaloyeros said