AIM Photonics' PIC facility almost complete, project $3m under budget

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Tool installation has begun on schedule at the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) Test, Assembly and Packaging (TAP) facility in Rochester. The TAP facility is expected to open to early customers in the 3rd quarter of 2018. 

AIM Photonics forecasts the facility renovation will be completed $3.2 million under budget, representing savings of 17 per cent.

The TAP facility, located inside ON Semiconductor at Eastman Business Park in Rochester, is the world’s first 300mm open access photonic integrated circuit (PIC) industry Test, Assembly, and Packaging Facility. It will have a brand new tool set and analytical lab for advancing next generation PIC technology. Being located in Rochester will provide partners access to a well established photonics supply chain. Optics, photonics, and imaging is one of the three industry clusters identified as key to enabling Finger Lakes Forward, the region’s successful Upstate Revitalisation Initiative plan, a comprehensive strategy to grow the economy.

'The TAP facility is revolutionary and will build upon Rochester and New York State’s leadership in the optics, photonics, and imaging industries,' said New York State photonics board of officers chairman John Maggiore. 'The facility will work to attract industry leaders from across the globe and builds upon Governor Cuomo’s investment in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region.'

In July of 2015, governor Andrew Cuomo and vice president Joe Biden announced that Rochester had been selected as the home for the Department of Defence-led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics).

One of 14 Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, with three of the 14  institutes headquartered in New York State, AIM Photonics is an industry-driven public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s premiere capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in technologies that are both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return-on-investment to the US economy. Currently, AIM Photonics has 89 signed members, partners, and additional interested collaborators from across the United States.

Some of the technology areas AIM Photonics is working on includes: reducing energy consumption in data centres by supporting the replacement of copper wires with optical fibre; providing technology for optics in next generation (5G) wireless networks; helping develop the optical equivalent of radar which will facilitate the use of self-driving vehicles; and in partnership with the University of Rochester, producing emerging optical sensors for medical and environmental applications. 

'As the TAP Facility transitions from fit out of the facility to the large-scale undertaking of installing state-of-the-art tools enabling next generation PIC research and development, AIM Photonics looks forward to continuing to build upon our exciting foundation with our growing number of industry-leading partners who will be able to leverage this facility to advance technologies that can lead to the types of applications that are improving our society,' said Dr Michael Liehr, AIM Photonics CEO. 

'With the intent of creating a world-class enabling environment for PIC Manufacturing process development, the readiness of AIM Photonics’ high-tech Test, Assembly and Packaging (TAP) facility continues to be on schedule and under budget,' said AIM Photonics corporate outreach executive and associate vice president for Test, Assembly, and Packaging Ed White. 'We are excited to see the tool installation process underway and thrilled that the availability of industry-leading capability is just a short time away.'

Achieving readiness for development of some equipment currently on order will extend into the 4th quarter of 2018. As new customers define projects that may require new tools, additional equipment is expected to be installed in 2019.

In March 2018, The New Yok State Photonics Board signed off on $60 million in approved funding for AIM Photonics representing the third and fourth tranches of state expenditures approved by the board for the Institute. To date, the board has approved recommendations for $247 million of the State’s $250 million commitment to the project. The total budget for AIM Photonics is $612,877,000 with the federal government committing $110 million and the state and other parties, including private sector companies, providing the balance.

New York State’s most recent $60 million investment, which covers the period April 1, 2018, through March 31, 2020, includes $30 million for the Photonics Attraction Fund which was announced by Governor Cuomo in January and aims to attract integrated photonics companies to set up manufacturing operations in the greater Rochester area. The capital budget also includes $9 million for education and workforce development efforts, as well as research and development initiatives conducted in conjunction with the University of Rochester and the Rochester institute of technology. The remaining $21 million has been dedicated to the operation of the TAP Facility, which will work to foster sustainability through industry relationships and other commercial engagements.

'Through the Finger Lakes Forward upstate revitalisation initiative, Rochester is building upon its historic strength as the optics, photonics, and imaging capital of the world,' said Finger Lakes regional economic development council co-chairs Monroe Community College president Anne Kress, and greater Rochester chamber of commerce president and CEO Bob Duffy. 'The research done at the Rochester facility will pave the way for vigorous industry growth and produce next-generation technologies. These, in turn, will result in opportunities for the region’s highly-skilled workforce.'