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New Defense Department Project Represents Key Component of AIM Photonics Initiative

(Credit: Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering)

The recent announcement made by the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) highlights the progress of Finger Lakes Forward, an award-winning strategic plan of the region to generate robust community development and economic growth.

AIM Photonics, a public-private partnership enhancing the photonics manufacturing capabilities of the nation, recently announced a new Defense Department project representing a major component of the AIM Photonics initiative. This new project will help researchers produce sensors that are used in a variety of applications by photonics-based systems. These application areas include detection of biological and chemical weapons, disease diagnosis, environmental monitoring and ensuring food safety.

This $900,000 U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) project, including an extra $1.41 million in matching funds from AIM Photonics industrial members, will extend its support to a consortium of partners headed by the University of Rochester that includes the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy Research Lab, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Analog Photonics, the University of Tulsa, PhoeniX, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and OndaVia. This project is part of the overall Finger Lakes Forward revitalization initiative — the region’s strategic plan to bring about economic growth, which highlights the significance of the industry cluster of photonics, optics and imaging in order to realize the complete potential of the region and act as a core driver of output growth and jobs.

When you consider the impact these sensors will have in immediately diagnosing illness, rapidly detecting foodborne pathogens, instantly assessing water and air quality, and ensuring the security of our citizens, you then realize the significance of AIM Photonics and how the technology we are developing is nothing short of a revolution.

John Maggiore, New York State Photonics Board of Officers Chairman

“Sensors represent the interface between the real world and data,” said Ben Miller, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the project. “Developing a universal set of protocols to design, manufacture, modify, and integrate sensors into photonics systems will not only advance this technology, but also present a tremendous economic opportunity—integrated photonics sensors represent a large and rapidly growing market, potentially reaching more than $15 billion globally by 2020.”

Miller, a professor in the University of Rochester Departments of Dermatology and Biomedical Engineering and the Institute of Optics, is also the academic lead of the AIM Photonics Sensors Key Technology Manufacturing Area (KTMA).

The project will aim to develop manufacturing blueprints for photonics-based transducers — the part of the sensor that specifically interacts with what is being detected so that the manufacturers will be able to mix and match these components in order to build systems capable of identifying a variety of biological or chemical targets.

It is also possible to miniaturize individual photonics sensors and then pack them together in a small space, allowing the development of systems that have the potential to scan for multiple chemical or biological agents in a simultaneous manner. This approach could lead to the development of technologies such as a “lab on a chip” that would help municipalities to constantly monitor drinking water for hazardous toxins, for example, or permit clinicians and researchers to scan for a wide range of proteins in a single blood sample.

Integrated photonics is a key piece of the 21st century technology revolution. Sensors enabled with the power of integrated photonics, will play an integral part of our lives by greatly improving the quality of life for future generations. We are proud to partner with the DoD, the University of Rochester, and our industrial and academic members in the development of this critical technology.

Michael Liehr, Ph.D., CEO of AIM Photonics

The project will involve a close partnership between engineers, industry researchers, academic and government. The sensor components will be modeled, designed, and fabricated at the new state-of-the-art AIM Photonics Testing, Assembly, and Packaging facility at Eastman Business Park, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Performing these tasks is indeed a challenging work.

The city of Rochester and the State of New York are honored to support the manufacturing of this important sensor technology which will benefit citizens of Rochester, NY, and individuals worldwide.

Robert Duffy, Chairman of AIM Photonics Leadership Council and President and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce

Established in 2015, AIM Photonics, a DoD-led National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, selected and is developing several key technologies capable of bringing about a significant impact in the coming decades. The initiative focuses on the nation’s expertise and premiere capabilities to capture important manufacturing leadership, which is necessary for the future wellbeing of society and national security. It also provides a compelling return-on-investment to the U.S. economy.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

The recent announcement made by AIM Photonics complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the comprehensive blueprint of the region that aims at generating robust community development and economic growth. More than $3.4 billion has already been invested by the State in the region since 2012 in order to put down the groundwork for the plan – investing in top industries including food production, agriculture, photonics, and advanced manufacturing. Currently, corporate and personal income taxes are down; unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; and businesses are selecting places like Canandaigua, Batavia, and Rochester to invest in and grow.

The region is presently accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced in December 2015 by Governor Cuomo. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest more than $2.5 billion – and up to 8,200 new jobs is projected by the region’s submitted plan.


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