Archive for March 2017

Precision Optical Transceivers Makes Move to Eastman Business Park

March 30, 2017

New York Photonics member Precision Optical Transceivers (POT) is expanding into Eastman Business Park in Rochester. The company currently employs 20 people and expects to add another 30 positions at the new facility over the next two years.

POT works with a wide variety of industries, including health care, education, enterprise, government entities, and service providers.  The company has invested heavily into Silicon and Integrated Photonics over the past two years and expects significant growth in both its technical and manufacturing capabilities by 2020.

“Our company has been growing rapidly so expansion was inevitable.  We wanted to relocate to a place where we not only can continue to grow, but to a place that will actually help us grow.” said Todd Davis, CEO of Precision Optical Transceivers. “

“The recent announcement that the AIM Photonics Test, Assembly and Packaging Center would be located in Eastman Business Park means we will be very close to the epicenter of Photonics research and manufacturing growth. And the manufacturing support infrastructure of the Park means we will have access to all the support we need to grow rapidly.”

The company chose EBP in which to expand its operation largely due to the proximity of the new AIM Photonics facility located on the EBP campus at ONSemiconductor.The optical telecommunications systems developer had long outgrown its Brockport location.  They plan to add positions in engineering, manufacturing and support staff in the coming months.  

Harvard Thinks It’s Found the Next Einstein — and She’s 23

March 29, 2017

“Though Pasterski herself is a standout, her interest is part of a larger trend of millennials — especially women — graduating with degrees in physics.”

Harvard thinks a female 23-year-old Ph.D. candidate may be the next Einstein.

At age 23, Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is already one of the most well-known and accomplished physicists in the U.S.

The Cuban-American Chicago native graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in just three years with a 5.0-grade point average, the highest possible, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard with full academic freedom — meaning she can pursue her own study on her own terms without staff interference.

Pasterski first attracted the attention of the scientific and academic community after single-handedly building her own single-engine airplane in 2008, at age 14, and documenting the process on YouTube.

Source: Harvard Thinks It’s Found the Next Einstein — and She’s 23

Akoustis Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire 120,000 Sq. Ft. Wafer Manufacturing Facility in Canandaigua, NY

March 24, 2017

STC MEMS, former Infotonics Center, most recently a division of SUNY POLY

Akoustis Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKTS), a manufacturer of patented single-crystal BulkONE® bulk acoustic wave (BAW) high-band RF filters for mobile and other wireless applications, announced today it has entered into  binding, definitive agreements to acquire assets from the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (RF-SUNY) and Fuller Road Management Corporation (FRMC), an affiliate of RF-SUNY.  The assets being acquired include STC-MEMS, a semiconductor wafer manufacturing operation and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) business with associated wafer production tools, as well as real estate associated with the facility located in Canandaigua, New York, near Rochester.

Under the terms of the agreements, Akoustis will pay $2.75 million in cash at closing to RF-SUNY and FRMC, subject to certain adjustments and customary closing conditions.  The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of calendar year 2017. As part of the signed definitive agreements, Akoustis plans to acquire all of the following:

  • 120,000 sq. ft. commercial wafer manufacturing facility located in Canandaigua, NY, which includes Class 100/Class 1000 cleanroom space (“NY Facility”).
  • 57-acres of real property associated with the NY Facility.
  • 150-mm silicon MEMS wafer fab operations, including all semiconductor manufacturing tools.
  • Existing silicon-based MEMS business with annual revenues of approximately $3M from multiple customers, including a tier-1 mobile wireless solutions OEM.
  • Trusted Foundry accreditation for MEMS processing, packaging and assembly.
  • Two existing tenants with multi-year leases.

Dr. Art Geiss, Co-Chairman of Akoustis, said, “Akoustis will merge its patented BulkOne® BAW RF filter process into the STC-MEMS foundry, an operating silicon-wafer-based MEMs manufacturer.  Since there is significant overlap between the tools and processes used to produce our BAW devices and silicon-based MEMS, transferring our process into the STC-MEMS foundry will accelerate the technology into production.  In addition, we believe that some of the foundry processes used in silicon-based MEMS manufacturing may be utilized in new ways to make further performance improvements in Akoustis’ single-crystal BAW RF filters.”

Jerry Neal, Co-Chairman of Akoustis, added, “This acquisition is an enormous win for Akoustis and is consistent with our capital-efficient business model. A comparable manufacturing facility to build and qualify for production would take up to 2-years and cost well over $50 million, not to mention the challenges of recruiting and training qualified personnel.”

The transaction allows Akoustis to internalize manufacturing providing substantial capacity and control of its wafer supply chain for single crystal BAW RF filters. Akoustis plans to utilize the NY Facility to consolidate all aspects of wafer manufacturing for its disruptive and patented high-band RF filters targeting the multi-billion mobile and other wireless markets. This planned consolidation of the Company’s supply chain into the NY Facility is expected to shorten time-to-market for its RF products, greatly enhancing the Company’s ability to service customers. Shorter time-to-market cycles provide the Company the opportunity to increase the number of customer engagements.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “When combined with its skilled workforce, the Finger Lakes region’s burgeoning R&D and advanced manufacturing industry cluster create the perfect environment for innovative companies like Akoustis to grow and thrive. The addition of new research and manufacturing jobs in Canandaigua will diversify and strengthen the local economy and help to ensure the region continues moving in the right direction.”

Jeff Shealy, CEO of Akoustis, commented, “We look forward to welcoming the dedicated professionals at STC-MEMS into the Akoustis family, and thank Governor Cuomo and his entire organization for their tireless efforts attracting Akoustis to New York State.”

Akoustis plans to maintain the existing customer engagements which are transferred as part of the transaction.  The Company plans to maintain the existing Trusted Foundry accreditation for MEMS processing, packaging and module assembly and will seek to expand the accreditation for the NY facility to include BAW RF filters and sensors.

Concern regarding the Department of Defense Trusted Foundry in Canandaigua ran high in Rochester’s Optics, Photonics and Imaging Community since last year’s indictment of SUNY POLY, New York State, and construction officials by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for bid-rigging.  This is a very welcome announcement.

Left to right: Dr. Jerry D. Neal, co-chairman, Akoustis; Mary Winters, Director of Business Development, STC MEMS; Jeff Shealy, CEO and Founder, Akoustis; Paul Tolley, VP for Disruptive Technologies, STC MEMS; Art Geiss, co-chairman, Akoustis

China Bets on Sensitive U.S. Start-Ups, Worrying the Pentagon – The New York Times

March 23, 2017

HONG KONG — When the United States Air Force wanted help making military robots more perceptive, it turned to a Boston-based artificial intelligence start-up called Neurala. But when Neurala needed money, it got little response from the American military. So Neurala turned to China, landing an undisclosed sum from an investment firm backed by a state-run Chinese company. Chinese firms have become significant investors in American start-ups working on cutting-edge technologies with potential military applications. The start-ups include companies that make rocket engines for spacecraft, sensors for autonomous navy ships, and printers that make flexible screens that could be used in fighter-plane cockpits. Many of the Chinese firms are owned by state-owned companies or have connections to Chinese leaders.

>>Read More Here<<

A Colleague Needs Our Help

March 21, 2017

We Rarely Make Appeals

Many of you may know Lori Steffenilla, a long-time member of the Optics and Photonics Community.  Lori is currently the Director of Operations at GS PLASTIC OPTICS.  Previously, Lori was VP of Operations for Syntec Optics.

On December 28th 2016, Lori and her family suffered a devastating loss when her husband of 20 years, Tom, succumbed to cancer.  Tom was 50 years old.

The struggle with Tom’s illness has been draining emotionally and financially for the family.  Lori and Tom have three children, two of them teens : Jacob, 17, who graduates high school this year; Lindsey, 14; and Kassidy, 10.

With college costs being so high, the New York Cluster is promoting an opportunity for you to help the family by donating to Jacob’s college education fund.  We would not be asking if this were not a financial hardship for the family.

If you chose to help you may donate directly by check through Ugift.  There are no fees with Ugift; your entire donation will go to Jacob’s 529 account. You can make a secure gift contribution for special events (birthdays, holidays) or any time you’d like. All you need is the following Ugift code, which can be used until Jacob is out of college.

Jacob’s Ugift code: R14-Q4A

To make a gift contribution using Ugift:

1. Go to Ugift529
2. Enter the Ugift code: R14-Q4A
3. Enter your name and the amount of your gift.
4. Make your gift via electronic funds transfer or check.

Ugift does not accept credit card contributions.  To make it easy for you to donate by credit card or Paypal account, the Cluster is accepting donations that we will then contribute to Jacob Steffenilla’s Ugift account.  We will then submit a check for direct deposit into the tax free 529 plan.

We are offering this option so that you don’t need to go through the process of writing the check and sending it, or arranging for a funds transfer.   When you donate using a credit card through us there is a small fee deducted by the credit card processor.

The choice is yours.

Thank you for considering this meaningful gift of helping Jacob’s dream of college become a reality.

A link to Tom Steffenilla’s obituary.

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Comparing Plans in the Competition for Future Optics & Photonics Manufacturing and Jobs

March 20, 2017

Comparing Plans in the International Competition for Future Optics & Photonics Manufacturing and Jobs

A reminder: We are living in the century of the photon.

There will be great economic rewards to nations — and regions — that are able to grow their optics, photonics and imaging ecosystems.  Nations are investing billions into making certain that they reap both the opportunities and the rewards.

New York State’s $250 million investment in AIM Photonics, led by $110 million from the Department of Defense is such an investment.  The demand for integrated photonics devices is real.  Nations that are able to manufacture these little light-based chips stand to reap extraordinary technological and economic rewards, and New York State is the captain of the U.S. team that will develop and scale the manufacturing of integrated photonics devices.  Think Manhattan Project — or the Apollo Mission.

As big as the market potential is, integrated photonics is scarcely even a market segment yet — and according to SPIE, the International Society for Photonics Engineering, the market for optics, photonics and imaging devices is already greater than $480 billion.  This is a market where the Finger Lakes Region already competes, and competed, prior to the announcement of AIM Photonics.

SPIE Photonics West, held annually at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, is North America’s biggest photonics conference.  The conference attracts over 1200 exhibitors and over 22,000 attendees — a three day exhibition and six days of presentations and technical meetings at ~100 PPH (presentations per hour).

A glance at the SPIE Photonics West 2017 floor plan shows that New York is competing with countries, not other states or regions.

It makes sense, then, to look at the the competition and examine their plans where possible.

Germany’s here.   Europe’s Photonics21.

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s here (page 26).

The National Photonics Initiative is here.

The AIM Photonics roadmap is here, and is focused strictly upon integrated photonics chips.


Moscone Center South Hall – 261,000 square feet.  Three football fields.

Arrest Made in Optics & Thermal Imaging Export Violation

March 10, 2017


Military grade equipment was intended for shipment to Ukraine.  Queens Man Sought to Export Controlled Rifle Scopes and Thermal Imaging Equipment Designed for Military Use.

The devices obtained by the defendant and his co- conspirators included some of the most highly powerful and technologically sophisticated night vision rifle scopes and thermal imaging equipment available, including, among others, an Armasight Zeus-Pro 640 2-16×50 (60Hz) Thermal Imaging weapons sight, a FLIR Thermosight R-Series, Model RS64 60 mm 640×480 (30Hz) Rifle Scope, and a ATN X -Sight II 5-20x Smart Rifle Scope.

Thanks to Jon Yormick at Phillips Lytle LLP for making us aware of this story.

>>DOJ Press Release Here<<

Please Note:
The deadline for providing public comments to the State Department and Commerce Department’s Notice of Inquiries (NOIs) regarding suggested changes to US Munitions List Category XII and corresponding Commerce Control List VI is March 14th.

If your company or university can provide detailed comments on the direct impact of the suggested language in the NOIs, this is by far ideal. Templates to help guide you in providing these comments, and further information on the NOIs, can be found at

Not commenting at all will be seen by the inter-agency as having no objections to the proposed regulatory language in the NOIs. The Federal Register notices can be found at the links below.