A packed house gathered at the Riverside Convention Center on Tuesday to discuss the region’s role within the photonics industry. On the table was everything you might already know about the AIM photonics hub; however, talks included a look ahead to a time when middle-skills jobs may come here.
The AIM Photonics hub will focus on attracting businesses that design and manufacture integrated photonic devices. But the testing, assembly and packaging – or TAP, as called by insiders– were especially touted as invaluable to the photonics industry. According to Tom Brown, a professor of optics at the University of Rochester, you can’t talk about one without mentioning all three.
"It’s a holistic picture. You haven’t made something if you can’t measure it and you can’t verify that it’s actually working," says Brown.
As the project moves forward, the AIM Photonics Leadership Council says Rochester will be the focal point for the TAP of integrated photonics components. Packaging is one of the most expensive processes in the wafer and semiconductor industry, for example. Bob Duffy, the council Chair, says the group hopes to establish a large packaging manufacturer in Rochester, and likely set up shop at Eastman Business Park.
“That would be a place where other companies who are in the semiconductor industry, wafer production would have the packaging done here,” says Duffy.
Companies around the world that perhaps can’t afford their own packaging facility could use the Rochester site as their partner. The large-scale packaging manufacturer would present an opportunity for the region to become a model for the type of sustainability that the AIM Photonics team is working to create.