The Albany NanoTech complex, slated for a 300,000 square foot expansion over the next two years, is poised to build on its work in innovating and designing microchip prototypes and accelerating their commercial manufacture as next big technological advances are developing.
Semiconductor microchips are the backbone of modern technology that most people use in their personal and professional lives, including cell phones, automobiles, home appliances, healthcare equipment and more.
Officials hope that the recent signing of federal and state legislation to promote semiconductor manufacturing will transform Albany NanoTech, a research and development site for critical technology, into a hub for the future.
“This really is a strategic investment – it’s a generational investment,” said NY CREATES President David Anderson.
The recently signed CHIPS Act will invest $52 billion over the next five years to increase US semiconductor manufacturing and invest in related research and workforce development.
Governor Kathy Hochul also signed a state law last week allocating $10 billion to clean or renewable energy to reduce the climate impact of semiconductor creation.
The goal is to be able to compete with countries like China as continued shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the shortcomings.
“A lot of manufacturing has moved overseas, and with it a lot of skilled workers,” said Shadi Sandvik, senior vice chancellor of research, innovation and economic development at SUNY.
Albany NanoTech is home to multiple cleanrooms with large operating tools to help hone chip innovation and design.
NY CREATES owns and operates Albany NanoTech, home to companies like IBM, GlobalFoundries, Samsung and many others. SUNY is a major partner in the operation, helping to run the site, which is poised to expand research and development of silicon wafers – or a thin wafer of high-purity silicon containing hundreds of semiconductor chips.
“Google, Apple, and Facebook…the government and the media call them ‘big tech,’ but in reality, they’re not tech at all,” Anderson explained. “It’s just software that runs on big tech, which are the semiconductor chips we make here.”
Both measures will help the facility’s tenants, and likely Albany NanoTech, grow and create jobs across the state by involving students in the industry sooner.
“We say SUNY is within 30 miles of every New Yorker in New York State — we’re everywhere,” Sandvik said. “If we just think about the impact this has on the economy … of the local economy across New York, it’s huge.”
New York has been investing in the semiconductor industry for 20 years, giving the state a head start in a rapidly growing industry.
Coupled together, the new state and federal CHIPS laws will help SUNY’s programming in the field and propel it as a center for the future of semiconductor design.
A request for proposals to expand the Albany NanoTech complex was issued in May. The proposed construction includes 50,000 square feet of new clean rooms, a parking garage, catwalks and more.
The expansion was launched months before the law was signed. Albany Nanotech, home to SUNY Poly’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, already has the infrastructure to take semiconductor manufacturing to the next level.
“As we prepare to build and expand with additional facilities, today we have the capabilities to begin this work,” Anderson said.
The historic state and federal investment will make Albany NanoTech one of the nation’s premier semiconductor research and development facilities.
“It is expected to be the hub of this national semiconductor technology center, which will be the future of semiconductor design and the research and development of new chip products for many decades to come,” he said. Anderson added.
Sandvik stressed that the investments will transform all facets of the semiconductor manufacturing industry, including new construction, educational programs and the involvement of younger students, resulting in a stronger workforce. .
The development could help reverse the pandemic’s trend of declining overall college enrollment.
“It’s not just a workforce that starts after high school,” she added. “Our children are excited to make this world a better place.”