Key photonics site picked

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The New York State Photonics Board of Officers has chosen a site at Eastman Business Park for a major manufacturing facility.

During a meeting this morning, the board picked ON Semiconductor on Lake Avenue to host the AIM Photonics testing, assembly, and packaging facility. The company makes a variety of electronic devices, including power management systems and sensors; in 2014, it acquired Truesense, a Kodak spinoff that makes image capture sensors.

Empire State Development hired the advisory firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank to lead the search. ON Semiconductor beat out 16 other qualifying sites, said Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky.

The site still needs an environmental review and the approval of ESD, according to a press release sent out this afternoon by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office.

RIT was a finalist, too, but ON Semiconductor's existing cleanroom space and its location at Eastman Business Park — a hub for various advanced manufacturing and tech companies — stood out, Zemsky said. The site can be outfitted for the TAP facility for an estimated $10 million less than what the state photonics board budgeted, he said.

AIM Photonics is a Department of Defense program and its goal is to jumpstart a domestic integrated photonics industry. Integrated photonics melds optical devices with semiconductor-based devices to reduce size and power consumption and increase performance and capability.  It's already used for biomedical sensors, imaging equipment, data server switches, and various communications systems.


AIM Photonics member companies and universities will have access to the TAP facility.  Their device designs will use silicon chips as a base, and those complete chips will be produced in Albany's foundries.  The city has a strong semiconductor industry so it makes sense for the chips to be produced there, officials have said.

But the completed chips, which are tiny and extremely sensitive, will come to Rochester's TAP facility for packaging, assembly, and testing.

State and local officials lauded the site choice.

"This is a great step forward in what we're doing here with AIM Photonics," said House Representative Louise Slaughter. "We really have made a mark on the world."

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