January 18, 2012

Plant DNA's Mark Of Distinction

By: Larry Rulison, Business Writer

Source: Times Union

ALBANY — A Long Island company that uses plant DNA as unique markers to authenticate fine wine, money and computer chips has forged a new research partnership with the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

The company, Applied DNA Sciences Inc., is a publicly traded firm located at a high-tech incubator at Stony Brook University.

Although Applied DNA is already putting its unique stamp on existing computer chips, its research at the NanoCollege will focus on using its DNA marker during different stages of the manufacturing process for new computer chips as they move through the supply chain.

Officials from the school and the company say the need for such authentication markers has increased as the Defense Department has raised requirements for chip manufacturers to employ anti-counterfeiting measures.

Terms of the deal were not announced. But the school and the company submitted a joint proposal to the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, a national security program that puts money toward cutting-edge technologies for federal intelligence agencies, seeking to further develop the technology.

James Hayward, chief executive officer of Applied DNA, said Monday that the partnership with the NanoCollege will help accelerate its chip program. But more importantly, he said the work that will be done in Albany will help the military ensure that its expensive equipment in the field isn't compromised by second-rate or even malicious chips.

"It's an opportunity of critical national importance," Hayward said. "We'll be working to protect America against the scourge of counterfeit microchips."

Applied DNA is already working with electronics distributor SMT Corp. in a pilot program sponsored by the Defense Department to authenticate existing chips with its DNA mark.

But the work that will be done in Albany would take the DNA markers directly into the manufacturing process. Most chips go through hundreds of steps during manufacturing and in some cases are processed in multiple locations.

The Applied DNA deal wasn't the only good news the NanoCollege received this week. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that his budget designates $250 million for a new $4.8 billion research program at the college that will include efforts to move the industry to 450 millimeter wafers from the current 300 millimeter size, a giant leap in manufacturing efficiency.

NanoCollege Chief Executive Officer Alain Kaloyeros thanked the governor for "bold leadership, strategic investments and ongoing support" of the state's nanotechnology industry, saying the spending will create "significant economic growth" across the state.

Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Plant-DNA-s-mark-of-distinction-2589544.php#ixzz1mIGqGK00