Archive for December 2011

Focus on Sales. Optics CEO Roundtables Continue.

December 13, 2011

First Thursdays of the Month
Lennox Tech Center Multimedia Room

The RRPC and Worldleaders continue their series for CEO members that are interested in enabling their organizations to win more sales. The program is delivered by Worldleaders Sales Solutions and designed to provide a fact-based training approach specifically for RPPC CEO’s.  It’s not sales pitch.  RRPC companies are closing more sales using things we’ve learned together at these sessions.

Meetings in 2012 are being held 3:00 – 5:00 PM, multimedia room, Lennox Tech Incubator.

The format  consists of a two-hour session on the first Thursday of every month. The first 30 minutes are lecture format, followed by Q/A and practical implementation of the concept. Worksheets and templates are provided to all participants.  Beer, wine and snacks will be provided following the sessions.

The series is intended as a continuing CEO round table as well as the platform to educate and inform presidents and CEO’s about how to assemble and manage a sales team. Here are some of the participating companies:

  • Applied Image Group
  • QED
  • Stamper Tech
  • EMF
  • Lumetrics
  • Toptica
  • Sydor Optics
  • Syntec
  • JML Optical

QED Technologies Introduces New Service Offering – QED Optics

December 13, 2011

QED Technologies, pioneer and exclusive provider of Magnetorheological Finishing (MRF®) polishing and Subaperture Stitching Interferometry (SSI®) metrology platforms for the precision optics industry, announced the introduction of a new service: QED Optics.

QED Optics specializes in precision optics polishing and metrology services using QED’s MRF and SSI technologies.  Services are offered on a contract basis and include polishing or metrology of flats, spheres, on-axis and off-axis aspheres, freeform optics and cylinders.  QED Optics has the capability to work with optical components ranging from approximately 1 millimeter to 1 meter in diameter.  In addition to MRF polishing and SSI metrology services, QED Optics intends to help a customer manage the complete optics fabrication process from securing raw material to shipping the final coated optical component.

QED has appointed a dedicated technical, engineering and business staff and established a newly renovated manufacturing facility for QED Optics.  The facility is equipped with MRF and SSI polishing and metrology systems and a metrology tower for measuring large aperture optics.  Mike DeMarco, formerly North American Sales Manager for QED Technologies is Business Manager for QED Optics.  Mr. DeMarco has over 20 years experience in the precision optics industry.“With QED Optics, the capabilities of MRF and SSI technologies are accessible to the entire optics community” said DeMarco.

“We offer manufacturing services to those who want to explore novel applications and may have capability, capacity or capital constraints.  In addition, if a customer needs manufacturing services beyond what we offer in-house, our goal is to be able to turnkey the entire process.  With our new facility, expert staff, a wide range of MRF and SSI equipment and industry know-how at our fingertips, we believe we are uniquely positioned to serve the precision optics market in this fashion.”

Importance of Rare Earth Elements in Optical Production

December 13, 2011

APOMA General Meeting at Photonics West
Ballroom A – Intercontinental Hotel
8:30-10am, Wednesday, 25 January, 2012

Rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of 17 elements that have valuable uses in optics, energy and military equipment. REEs gained global attention when prices began to rise in 2009, a trend that continued into 2011. During this two-year period, a debate began between those calling for the U.S. government to try to curb the prices’ rise by ensuring supply and those arguing that market supply and demand should be allowed to work unimpeded.

Higher prices encourage the entry of new suppliers and encourage existing suppliers to expand. Existing firms have mushroomed in size along with REE prices, new firms have been created, and new deposits have been discovered, as to be expected with the greater incentive to explore.

The inevitable result of this supply expansion is a change in the price trend. In July, prices began a decline that has lasted four months and counting, intensified in October, and brought REE costs down about 40 percent (from the peak).  This is less a function of new supply physically becoming available than it is the prospect of more new supply than expected becoming available. REE prices had skyrocketed on the anticipation of long-term shortages, but the market is now correcting, as anticipated shortages no longer seem as acute.

In the second half of October, leading Chinese suppliers announced suspensions of production. Their unpredictable behavior may reintroduce the fear of chronic or acute shortages that drove the market higher. Indeed, this seemed to be the explicit goal of the initial announcement.

Chinese production dominance creates an instability of supply of lanthanum oxide (used on glass manufacture) and cerium oxide (used in polishing components).  We will discuss the impact of this instability on APOMA members, customer and on critical US optics programs.

Panel participants:

  •  Don Janeczko from ITT
  • Chris Ghio from Ohara
  • Heather Rayle from Schott
  • Mark M. Mayton from Flint Creek Resources
  • Defense Logistics Agency

2011: Breakthrough Year for Rochester Optics Education

December 13, 2011

Establishing The Pipeline For New Talent

In 2006 it became clear to RRPC Members that the Monroe Community College Optics program, the only program of its kind in the nation, was in dire straights. With very few annual registrations and fewer graduates, the program was a clear target for elimination by the College. The RRPC, together with the new Dean of Technical Education, Dianna Phillips, undertook an effort to market and grow the program.

Technical programs are very expensive for a college. Without sufficient support from industry, be it telecommunications, nursing, electronics or optics, and without sufficient enrollment, such programs become untenable. Phillips and the RRPC reached out to the optics community. RRPC and MCC also applied for a number of grants together, and in some instances were successful, but not on a scale that would enable the organizations to grow the program to meet our regional industry’s demand for qualified opticians.

Working with The Rochester City School District

RRPC’s work with the Rochester City School District began through an initiative at Monroe High School in 2008. Through outreach programs, two teachers from Monroe High learned about and attended a conference hosted by OPTEC, the National Science Foundation center for photonics education. They returned to Rochester with an interest in establishing an optics and photonics program at Monroe High. Although the initial effort with RRPC, MCC and Monroe High bore no fruit, it was instrumental in introducing us to East High School science teacher Paul Conrow.

When RRPC Executive Director Tom Battley met with Conrow in 2009, Conrow’s vision was to develop an opthalmic laboratory at East High School to provide glasses for students that could not afford eyewear.

Once Conrow learned more about Rochester’s optics industry, and the potential career paths in the industry for city high school students, the two developed a vision for East High School to have both an opthalmic laboratory and an optical fabrication laboratory at East High School.

The Optics Summer Sizzler Is Born

To jumpstart this vision RRPC organized a group of volunteers that met with Conrow and staff from MCC to create what was to become the East High / MCC Summer Optics Sizzler. The intent was to create an optics immersion program for young people from among a population of students often overlooked by our industry in its recruitment efforts: City High Schools. The goal of the sizzler was articulated as “filling the pipeline of students registering in the MCC Optics program and creating a dual credit optics course between East High School and MCC.”

The success of the first annual Summer Optics Sizzler: a three day program engaging 12 students in experiments including coherent light, projection science, spectroscopy and stereo vision was clearly evident on the final day, The students presented what they had learned to their peers and a panel of industry representatives. Their presentations exhibited an impressive grasp of the material. There was no doubt that the Sizzler had tapped into a cohort of students with real potential for careers in optics.

In expanding the Summer Optics Sizzler to other schools we will not dilute the optics focus to become a general “science camp.” We will maintain small lab teams: no more than four students per team. We will only work with schools willing to create a dual credit optics course with MCC. We also expanded the program to four days.

Dual Credit Optics Course at East High

In September 2011 Paul Conrow began teaching the first dual credit optics course in the nation at East High School. 50 students enrolled in the course and 37 of those are enrolled for dual credit with MCC. Their dual credit fees were paid for using scholarships from Corning and Citizens Bank. Then in October, Gates Chili High School approved a dual credit optics class to be taught beginning September 2012.

Optics Manufacturing Laboratory Installed at East High School

On Saturday, November 26, 2011, a team led by Tony Marino from Advanced Glass Industries installed a complete optical fabrication laboratory at East High School, making East High the only school in the nation that has both an opthalmic laboratory for making eyeglasses and an optics laboratory capable of making sophisticated optical components.

The AGI / East High Move-In Crew at East High
left to right: Anne Marino, Tony Marino, Brandon Long,
John Beech,
 David Darling, Paul Conrow, John O’Herron Jr.

Equipment in the East High Optics Manufacturing Lab:

  • Grinder (Blanchard)
  • Lens Generator (Rogers & Clarke G-150)
  • 5 Bench top Grinding Units
  • 2 Double Spindle Machines (Nord)
  • 2 Udagawa Spindle Polishers (4 and 2 Spindle machines)
  • 24″ Continuous Polisher (Rogers & Clarke)
  • Double-Sided Planetary Lapper (one for grinding & one for polishing)
  • Diamond Edger (Bothner)
  • Zygo GPI Interferometer
  • Sphereometer set & optical testing instruments
  • 8 spindle Dama polisher
  • Miscellaneous equipment and tooling
Tony Marino moving equipment
into the East High Optics Fabrication Lab

These advances could not have been made without commitment from teachers, volunteers and their employers, and the sponsors who have underwritten our efforts on the Summer Optics Sizzler.

The Summer Optics Sizzler continues growing and needs your support more than ever! We need:

  • Volunteers passionate about careers in optics and optics education to be team leaders during the 2012 Summer Optics Sizzler, June 25 – 28, 2012. Is there someone at your company that you will send to lend a hand?
  • Financial contributions to the RRPC to support our efforts in engaging more students in optics
  • Donations of modular equipment for specific experiments. For instance, microscopy, telescopy, polarization, bioluminescence, coherent light, etc.

Thanks to our supporters and volunteers:
Advanced Glass
Angstrom Precision Optics
ASE Optics

Citizens Bank
Corning
CVI Melles Griot
G-S Plastic Optics
ITT SSD
Lasermax
Monroe Community College
Moondog Optics
Optics Technology
Optimax Systems

OptiPro
PLS Launch Solutions
Sydor Optics
Thorlabs
Vincent Associates
Dan Balonek
Josh Cobb
Paul Conrow
Jim Crittenden

MARTIN DVORIN
Andy Germanow

Marcelo Guimaraes
Katherine Hasman
Jennifer Kruschwitz
Ross Micali
Elise Michaels
Paul Michaloski
Ron Schulmerich

Jim Van Kouwenberg
Alexis Vogt

2012 Sponsors and Volunteers:

AccuCoat

Advanced Glass Industries

Angstrom Precision Optics

Applied Image

ASE Optics

Citizens Bank

Corning

Corning

CVI Melles Griot

G-S PLASTIC OPTICS

Idex Optics & Photonics

JML Optical

Lasermax

Monroe Community College

Moondog Optics

Optics Technology

Optimax Systems

OptiPro

Oren Sage Technology

PLS Launch Solutions

QED Optics

Rochester Precision Optics

RPC Photonics

Semrock

Stampertech

Sydor Optics

Thorlabs

UR Laser Energetic Laboratory

Vincent Associates

Dan Balonek

Josh Cobb

Paul Conrow

Jim Crittenden

Damon Diehl

MARTIN DVORIN

Andy Germanow

Katherine Hasman

Jennifer Kruschwitz

Lynn Mellas

Ross Micali

Elise Michaels

Paul Michaloski

Donna Smith

Jim Van Kouwenberg

Alexis Vogt

Two Regional Entities Vie To Help RRPC Members Seeking SEMATECH Opportunities

December 13, 2011

SEMATECH Means Opportunity

Regional optics, photonics and imaging companies have been trying to reach out to Albany Nanotech since the school’s inception. To date, UA staff have been unwilling to host meetings of a technical nature with RRPC / New York Photonics members under our own auspices, and have encouraged companies to participate in technology fairs held in the Albany Nanotech atrium.  This has been frustrating.  The usual feedback we hear from participants in those small outreach efforts and technology fairs has been less then impressive. None of these efforts have resulted in real contracting opportunities of the sort we have experienced through our efforts with Brookhaven National Laboratory, for example.

Our region now has two organizations in a position to change that relationship for the better.  STC MEMS in Canandaigua (once known as Infotonics) became part of  the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany last year.  Albany Nanotech, the New York State Center of Excellence in nanotechnology is also located at CNSE.  Technically their name is now the Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center of the State University at Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.  One way to think of it might be that STC MEMS is interested in, and is actually developing real contract manufacturing work with OEM’s, whereas Albany Nanotech is interested in cutting edge R&D with the big names in the semiconductor industry, and under the auspices of SEMATECH.  This may be an oversimplification, but we have to try to understand the relationship somehow.

Background on SEMATECH

SEMATECH (from “semiconductor manufacturing technology”) is a not-for-profit consortium that performs research and development to advance chip manufacturing. SEMATECH’s core mission is to ensure the continued advancement of its member semiconductor manufacturing companies through support of next generation speculative research and by enabling the infrastructure and supply chain to create production capability according to the demand of market forces.

SEMATECH was formed in 1987 as a partnership between the United States government and 14 U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturers.  Its mission was to solve common manufacturing problems and regain competitiveness for the U.S. semiconductor industry that had been surpassed by the Japanese industry in the mid-1980s. A number of cities competed fiercely to have SEMATECH locate in their region with incentive packages in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  In 1987 Austin Texas was selected.

In 1996, SEMATECH stopped receiving matching funds from the U.S. government and began accepting international members.  Today the consortium includes all of the major semiconductor manufacturers in the world.  It is a global consortium.  In 2002, New York State used $160 million in incentives to convince SEMATECH to set up a $350M R&D center for advanced lithography in Albany.  It is located on the SUNY campus at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

The STC MEMS and CEIS Connections

CEIS, hosted at the University of Rochester, changed the meaning of its acronym last year from “Center For Electronic Imaging Science” to “Center For Emerging & Innovative Sciences.”  CEIS, funded by NYSTAR, is a University Collaborative, with other participating universities listed on the website as RIT, University at Buffalo, Cornell and Columbia.  Note that Albany Nanotech is not listed.  This can lead to some confusion, but with two entities in our region active with SEMATECH, regional companies now have two possible avenues through which to identify research areas where their expertise may be able to add value.  This can only be good for RRPC / New York Photonics companies.

In our region, STC MEMS has been leading the effort to promote the involvement of firms and institutions across western New York with SEMATECH.  Now, CEIS is leading a concurrent effort.

The Snowballing Opportunity

The first phase of SEMATECH’s activities focused on keeping and eventually growing the semiconductor industry in the United States.  Phase two focused on the development of finer lithography for smaller nodes.  In both of these phases, the innovation and development needed to achieve these broad goals was too expensive for any one SEMATECH member to accomplish alone, thus resulting in this collaborative approach.  Now developing their third phase of activities, a strategic initiative includes involving more Rochester-area firms and institutions, representing technologies such as optics/photonics, biomedical diagnostics, metrology and other affiliated technologies. As part of CNSE, STC MEMS is leading an effort in our region to ensure that the appropriate fit is achieved for SEMATECH as it expands its focus, aligned with the demands of its key members, to reduce the time from innovation to manufacturing.

There has been over $15 billion invested in nanoscale semiconductor manufacturing in New York State’s Capital District region over the past several years, with several billion coming from the State Government.  This makes the Capital District the leading center of advanced semiconductor research and development in the world. There remain, however, serious challenges in transferring the technology being developed into high volume manufacturing, putting the state’s investment at risk. Many of these challenges involve optics and imaging.  There are also significant opportunities in the application of photonics and three-dimensional packaging to increase the speed and reduce the power consumption of next generation integrated circuits.  New York’s Finger Lakes region has some of the worlds most advanced capability in these areas.  The combination of the Capital District’s nanoscale technology with the Finger Lakes “Nano-Photonics” technology can mitigate the risk for the state’s investment in the Capital District and be an economic boom to the Finger Lakes region.

This year, CEIS got involved with promoting SEMATECH opportunities.  On October 6th and 7th, a high level delegation from SEMATECH met with academic, economic development and industry representatives in Rochester to discuss synergies that exist between the nanoscale manufacturing in eastern NY and the photonics resources in the Rochester region.  Photonics and imaging play key roles in semiconductor technology.  Many of the most challenging problems associated with fabricating nm scale chips involve imaging.  And on-chip optical interconnects will begin to replace copper to enable faster and more power efficient integrated circuits.  The outcome of those meetings was a sense by both parties that very significant synergies exist, and that near term investments in building a SEMATECH presence in Rochester are warranted. The technical and intellectual assets of Rochester and the Finger Lakes region are in perfect alignment with the needs of this industry and thus there exists the potential for huge economic impact to our region, easily hundreds of millions of dollars and many thousands of jobs.

While exact figures for follow-on private investment and total economic impact are hard to predict with confidence, we may look to SEMATECH’s track record over its 25 year history of bringing economic development to the areas in which it operates as a guide.  Just look at the impact on Austin and Albany.

According to Paul Ballentine, Associate Director of CEIS and a former resident of Austin, Texas (SEMATECH ’s first home base), a move by SEMATECH to expand its presence to Rochester could very possibly be the most important development in this region’s economy in several decades.  When SEMATECH establishes an R&D center, many of the member semiconductor device manufacturing companies, and the partner equipment manufacturers, choose to locate operations in the region.  We have been watching this happen at Albany Nanotech for the last decade.  The Albany region is now home to a multibillion-dollar semiconductor foundry.  IBM has made significant investments into its factories in the Hudson Valley as well.

The magnitude of the semiconductor industry’s investment in New York to date is so large that no single region is able to fully support it.  A major goal of SEMATECH now is to build out the infrastructure and supply chain across the state to support the industry, and Rochester has been identified by SEMATECH as the most promising region in their expansion efforts.  The reason for this interest is clear.  Some of the most challenging tasks required to keep Moore’s Law on track involve optics, imaging, and photonics, and these are areas where Rochester is a world leader. SEMATECH would be basing two of its most important research and development programs in Rochester.

Possible Synergies Between the Finger Lakes Region and Nanotechnology in the Capital District Region

The first program is to develop the photomasks, light sources, and optics required for next generation photolithography, which uses extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation.  This work would greatly benefit from the knowledge of lasers, plasmas, and optics in the University of Rochester Hajim School, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), and RIT.

EUV light is generated by using high power lasers to create a plasma from molten droplets of tin – sharing much of the technology with the work on inertial confinement fusion done at the LLE.  CEIS, the Laser Lab, and SEMATECH have already had technical discussions on possible approaches.  The design and manufacturing of ultra-precise optical mirrors is another critical need.  Discussions along these lines have taken place with SEMATECH on the use of free-form mirror design developed by Prof. Jannick Rolland in Optics.  RRPC member Optimax Systems developed conformable synchrotron mirrors for use with the new light source being built at Brookhaven National Laboratory.  When Brookhaven staff and RRPC met in 2009, there was no known source for the mirrors.  (see previous blog post)

The second program is in 3-dimentional packaging, which includes work on optical interconnects and integrated photonics.   It has been said that just as the 20th century was the century of the electron, the 21st century will be the century of the photon.  High speed optical interconnects and integrated photonic devices will help solve the challenging issues of reducing power and increasing the speed of integrated circuits.  Once again, the UR has performed groundbreaking research in this area, designing the first 3D chip ever demonstrated.  This early accomplishment was a purely electronic design and there is a lot of research ongoing in the Hajim School and at RIT on 3D chips that integrate photonics and electronics.  Establishing a SEMATECH presence in Rochester would leverage this activity and put Rochester at the forefront of next generation integrated circuits.

The Finger Lakes economy will benefit at many levels from a SEMATECH presence in Rochester. The first level of economic expansion would be the direct investment by the state.  This would be spent to build R&D programs at the University of Rochester, RIT and in theory, local companies.

Thanks to Paul Ballentine, Associate Director, CEIS and David Gottfried, Government and Community Affairs Director, STC MEMS for their input.