February 23, 2011

Infotonics In Canandaigua Wins Key Tech Contracts

By: by Tom Tobin, Democrat and Chronicle


The former Infotonics Center in Canandaigua, now a partner with a larger high-tech center in Albany, has landed two new deals that officials said herald a lucrative future and more jobs.

The contracts, valued at $6 million, are in the military and energy areas.

The center, now called the Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence (STC), is an affiliate of SUNY Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which is the best funded and most successful of the state Centers of Excellence created about 10 years ago.

Last September, the Albany center absorbed the Canandaigua facility, giving the local center an expanded ability to develop and manufacture state-of-the-art nanoscale, or extremely small, products, including sensors and optical devices.

On Tuesday, STC officials said the center was awarded a $3 million contract by the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego to develop ultra-sensitive sensors for use by soldiers. They include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors that enhance the ability to detect movement and sound.

Also, the Canandaigua complex, located on Route 332, has a deal with the Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto, Calif., to design wireless sensors able to monitor high-speed power generators for potentially damaging vibrations.

The latter project will lead, officials said, to a $3 million contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to apply the sensors to wind turbines, jet engines, helicopters and other mechanical systems.

Alain Kaloyeros, CEO of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and Paul Tolley, executive director of the Canandaigua facility, said the local center is in the first phase of a $25 million upgrade that will permit it to design and manufacture microprocessing systems of various sizes. The change will enable the center to compete for more military and energy contracts.

The phased-in upgrade is expected to be completed in 2013, with the hiring of 115 or so workers to supplement the current STC work force of 50.

"We will be able to do wafers on any scale," Tolley said of the improvements to the microprocessing design and manufacturing capabilities.