Erica Graham an AIM Photonics Journey

AIM Photonics, the Department of Defense (DoD) sponsored Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute, heads into its fifth year, with a number of notable accomplishments and technological achievements. Some of these major milestones include Radio Frequency (RF) over fiber for warfighter improvements, high-speed optical communications advancements (>1Tbps), low cost sensors for military and commercial applications (real time COVID-19 testing), and the only open-access 300mm state-of-the-art Photonic/Microelectronic test, assembly, and packaging research facility in the world. 

Often times the technological advancements developed in these great institutes can overshadow one of the most important aspects of these manufacturing organizations; training our next generation workforce of skilled technicians, engineers, scientists and leaders in these new technologies. A little over two years ago, a bright young Ph.D. candidate attending the University at Albany and SUNY Poly’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering decided to take a summer course recommended by her professor. 

This was AIM Photonics Summer Academy 2019; a week long course covering a number of new technology aspects of integrated photonics including: design, simulation, device characterization, and process development.  Going into this week-long training, she knew of the added educational benefits, but little did she realize how this would change her future trajectory.  A graduate of Stony Brook University, with a bachelor’s and master’s in Mechanical Engineering in just 5 years, focusing on Energy Technology, Ms. Erica Graham knew she had opened a new world that would not only change her view of technology, but the future of the 21st century. It was this simple one week course at AIM Photonics Academy’s HQ in the MIT campus where this happened. This new world was one of nanometer sized light particles traveling through waveguides made of silicon and silicon nitride. These waveguides enable devices to be powered by photons, instead of the traditional electrons. This was a new world to not only her, but many at the Summer Academy, as well as so many in our advanced technological workforce today.

With a unique desire to understand science and mathematics, it was early on where it all began.  “Looking back at my fifth grade year book, there was a section of it that asked what you want to be in the year 2020,” said Erica Graham.  “I wrote I wanted to be a scientist, so I guess I made the conscious decision sometime before fifth grade, and I believe my father was a driving force for that.”

Growing up in a very small farming community, she recalls her father’s work as a cleanroom technician for Intel and then IBM. Not much can be recalled, as much of the technology was confidential, even with family members, but she remembers driving by the facility in East Fishkill. 

“There was this massive network of buildings and smoke stacks, and as a child, I wanted to know what was in there,” said Erica. “My father always had us focus on math and science, and this is why out of my three sisters, two are now doctors, one is in dentistry, and the other is in nanoscience. My third sister holds a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University.”

Since math and science were the subjects she was most interested in, it helped guide her down the technology path. “These were topics I could talk to, solve problems, and engage teachers in hypothetical questions that weren’t necessarily on the curriculum, but drove my desire to understand and learn more,” said Erica.

Having lived in a family that strongly supported education as a tool for advancement, including her three sisters with advanced degrees, it was easy for Erica to decide her path at SUNY. “Financially, in-state schools are amazing especially for families of multiple college bound children, in addition to being close to home,” said Erica. 

After completing her master’s, Erica decided to continue work towards a Ph.D. and ultimately chose SUNY Poly’s College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering while at UAlbany. “SUNY Poly made the decision easy because it offers students hands-on lab and cleanroom experiences,” said Erica. “These are experiences you typically only get in industry after you have graduated.” 

She also took part in the unique Innovation Intensive program, a joint SUNY Poly/Albany Law School program supported by the SUNY Research Foundation. The Innovation Intensive Clinic affords students an immersive opportunity to partner with interdisciplinary teams to understand and work within the technology commercialization process in a university setting. With a heavy focus on intellectual property law and the regulation of new technologies, students are on the cutting edge of both the law and such rapidly evolving areas as nanotechnologies, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence.  Erica shared her experience in this video:

Returning from the 2019 Summer Academy course, Erica was now filled with the knowledge and understanding of the potential that integrated photonics has for our future. She continued her device modeling work to include those particles of light. Nate Cady, Erica’s Ph.D. advisor and Professor at SUNY Poly, welcomed the opportunity for her to promote this in her thesis. Coupled with her keen curiosity for new scientific advancements, she began using the knowledge gained from the week-long summer course.

 The summer Academy was not the first step in Erica’s photonics journey. Her AIM-funded Ph.D. research is being conducted in the same location as the AIM headquarters. She was also awarded a co-op with the engineering team, and was given an opportunity that many would only dream of.  She was now working in one of the most advanced nanotechnology research organizations in the world, NY CREATES in Albany, NY. This organization supports research from industry leaders such as: IBM, Applied Materials, Tokyo Electron, CREE | Wolfspeed, Lam Research, and of course, AIM Photonics, as well as many other organizations. 

Here the AIM Photonics team builds the most advanced Photonic Integrated Chips (PIC) supporting multiple programs. As a co-op student, Erica experiences first-hand how AIM Photonics delivers an industry-leading Multi Project Wafer (MPW) program. Now involved in AIM’s entire ecosystem, and working with engineers, program managers, customer engagement, and business teams, she gains an entirely new understanding of how customers’ initial designs are developed into the final PICs. The most exciting part was using her SUNY B.S. and M.S. education and current Ph.D. studies to help perform simulations for current and future PIC device improvements. 

“Working with the AIM Photonics team was very special. I didn’t expect to learn so much, and have so much fun interacting with my colleagues,” said Erica. “One special aspect of AIM Photonics is that they focus on learning. They enroll you in design courses to increase your knowledge. They are focused on the individual worker, which I genuinely appreciate in a company.”

Unfortunately, not every young mind has the same opportunities or strong family network. Knowing this drove Erica to reopen and serve as the chapter President of the National Society of Black Engineers on the SUNY Stony Brook campus during her undergraduate years. Erica realized that the gifts she received were not simply endowed, and the challenges others might have in taking a similar path was something she was dedicated to helping those overcome. She is the founding president of the Graduate Students of Color Organization at UAlbany, the first graduate level organization devoted to addressing the needs of underrepresented students on campus. Her work in the organization has been devoted to increasing academic excellence as well as fighting against injustice and inequality for members. She served as a mentor and coach for the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy where she assisted in facilitating science programs and mentoring middle school age girls of color. 

 “I will always be a mentor, I will always be a leader, and I will always try to lift as I climb, and sharing that same passion with a curious young mind will, I hope, ultimately enable them to do the same,” said Erica.

Many individuals ask what AIM Photonics has accomplished, and as mentioned previously, the technology advancements in just five years are amazing. But, stories like Erica Graham’s are even more amazing, because without the Ericas of today, there might be no future AIM or integrated photonics. Erica’s story shows why these workforce programs and institutions are so important. 


About Erica Graham: Erica received her bachelor’s master’s degrees, both in mechanical engineering, from Stony Brook University. She is a graduate student at the University at Albany where she will be completing her Ph.D. in Nanoengineering this December. Her research focuses on stress induced optical inhomogeneity in passive photonic devices and resulting performance deviations. She is the author of three technical proceeding papers on the subject. She is currently interning at AIM Photonics as a photonic design engineer at the Albany Nanotech campus.

About the Author:  Frank Tolic is the Chief Marketing Officer of AIM Photonics. As AIM’s CMO, Frank is responsible for development and execution of marketing strategies that expand the AIM brand, membership, technology, and services to the photonics community. He also heads up NY CREATES’ marketing and communications efforts. Previously he was Associate Vice President for Business, wafer processing at SUNY Poly where he focused on the creation of new business partnerships and growing SUNY Poly’s core strategic technical and corporate partnerships. Prior to this assignment, he managed a portfolio of over one billion dollars in semiconductor business across the globe in support of semiconductor equipment, consumable, research, and manufacturing companies at Novati Technologies, SVTC, ATDF, and SEMATECH. Prior to his business roles, Tolic was a Sr. Device Integration Engineer at Motorola’s Advanced Products Research and Development Laboratory, in Austin, TX. He received both bachelor’s in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering from Lawrence Technological University, holds a number of patents, and has published and presented various technical and business topics throughout his 30 years in in the semiconductor industry.

About NY CREATES:  NY CREATES serves as New York’s bridge to the advanced electronics industry, as a resource for public-private and academic partnerships within New York State to create and lead industry connected innovation and commercialization projects that attract investment and create growth in high technology jobs. Managing public and private investments of more than $20 billion and boasting more than 2700 industry experts and faculty, NY CREATES is a global leader in innovation and commercialization. Learn more at

About AIM Photonics:  AIM Photonics is one of several Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, an industry-driven public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s premiere capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology that is both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return-on-investment to the U.S. economy. Learn more at

SUNY Poly-NIOSH Research on Nanomaterials’ Safety Published in Industrial Health

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Research Associate and Assignee to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) Nicole Neu-Baker, MPH, CPH recently published a field report in Industrial Health. This field report details health and safety evaluations conducted between 2011-2015 at 11 worksites that either produced engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) via a wet process or used ENMs in a wetted, suspended, or slurry form.

Results from these 11 worksite evaluations indicated that wet handling or processing of ENMs reduces potential worker exposure compared to dry handling or processing; however, exposures may still occur. NIOSH provided recommendations to each of the 11 participating companies to reduce potential exposures following the hierarchy of controls. The data and recommendations presented here are of particular relevance to the advanced electronics industry since ENMs in slurry are used in high volumes during semiconductor fabrication. This SUNY Poly-NIOSH co-authored publication builds on the close decade-long partnership between the two institutions that focuses on health and safety considerations for the emerging technologies workforce.

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AIM-Led team selected for research project under DARPA’s Lasers for Universal Microscale Optical Systems (LUMOS) program. Technology will advance many applications such as self-driving vehicles, augmented reality, 3-D camera technology, and quantum computing.


Albany, NY, Dec. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a program of NY CREATES today announced $19 million in research program awards for advanced integrated photonics under The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Lasers for Universal Microscale Optical Systems (LUMOS) program. 

The LUMOS program will enable efficient on-chip optical gain in highly capable integrated photonics platforms.  This will enable complex, end-to-end photonic functionality on a single crystal silicon substrate for disruptive optical microsystems. 

This $19 million DARPA contract will support a team of academic, industrial, and government partners, led by AIM Photonics, and continues the growth and expansion of this critical Department of Defense (DoD) funded manufacturing institute.


Photonic Integrated Chips (PICs) produced by AIM Photonics at NY CREATES 300mm Microelectronic Chip Research Facility.


AIM Photonics is the nation’s premier Photonic Integrated Chip (PIC) manufacturing institute advancing Integrated Photonic technology and associated workforce development. A public-private partnership founded in 2015, AIM Photonics is celebrating five years of success and is nationally recognized for creating the world’s first open-access complete Integrated Photonic manufacturing ecosystem.  AIM’s ecosystem provides the photonics industry, the academic research community, and the DoD access to a full suite of design tools, advanced wafer fabrication, testing, and chip packaging technologies throughout the entire product development cycle.

“The AIM Photonics consortium, our Rochester and Albany-based team, and I thank DARPA for trusting us to lead the development of this critical next gen PIC technology,” said Dr. Michael J. Cumbo, CEO of AIM Photonics.  “The advantages of on-chip lasers will provide not only significant benefits in military microsystems, but also in diverse commercial applications, including autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, big data, biosensing, and quantum computing.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “AIM Photonics is advancing New York State’s leadership in optics, photonics and imaging by attracting industry innovators from across the globe, building on Governor Cuomo’s strategic economic vision that has grown the Finger Lakes region as an Optics Photonics and Imaging industry hub.”

Other program partners include; University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), Analog Photonics, IQE, and NAsPIII/V GmbH. 

“UCSB’s extensive experience in laser research and integrated photonics, and recent collaboration with AIM Photonics, DoD experts and key defense contractors, will help accelerate the use of lasers on silicon chips,” said Dr. John Bowers, Professor UCSB, and Deputy CEO of AIM Photonics. “We thank the government for providing the means to advance this critical technology.”

In addition to addressing the equipment and process challenges associated with this technology, the LUMOS team will develop a standard laser design into non-traditional silicon-based integration.  AIM Photonics Tier 1 member and key design partner, Analog Photonics, will help implement these designs, having already established multiple Process Design Kits in the Albany Fab.

“Eight years ago, a team of engineers from the Albany Fab and Analog Photonics began implementing our first PIC designs and our first DARPA program,” said Dr. Mike Watts, CEO of Analog Photonics, and AIM Photonics Chief Technology Officer. “Back then, we didn’t have the capabilities to even consider direct integration of gain on-chip.  Fast forward eight years later, including five years with AIM Photonics, we are now accelerating this technology to a level of maturity approaching CMOS electronics, including LIDAR on a chip which will ultimately make self-driving vehicles mainstream and 3D camera technology standard in consumer electronics.”

A vital component of NY CREATES is AIM Photonics, with more than 126 consortium members, including those focused on data communications, sensors, quantum and neuromorphic computing.  AIM featured services include our industry leading Process Design Kit (PDK), Multi Project Wafer (MPW), and Test, Assembly and Packaging (TAP) capabilities.  AIM’s comprehensive set of silicon Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) devices are enabling the implementation of next-generation products.


NY CREATES serves as New York’s bridge to the advanced electronics industry, as a resource for public-private and academic partnerships within New York State to create and lead industry connected innovation and commercialization projects that attract investment and create growth in high technology jobs. Managing public and private investments of more than $20 billion and boasting more than 2700 industry experts and faculty, NY CREATES is a global leader in innovation and commercialization. Learn more at

About AIM Photonics

AIM Photonics is one of several Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, an industry-driven public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s premiere capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology that is both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return-on-investment to the U.S. economy. Learn more at

Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited


Frank Tolic

Kristin Devoe
Empire State Development
(518) 292-5107

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Air Force, Navy accelerate Quantum Research with international virtual event

Rome, N.Y. – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate is spearheading an international alliance of principal investigators across government, academia and industry to accelerate quantum enabling technologies.

Innovare Advancement Center, a partnership between the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, New York State, Oneida County, New York, the City of Rome, New York, the Griffiss Institute, NYSTEC, and The State University of New York, announce the 18 research teams from around the world who have qualified for awards for their potentially game-changing quantum research and innovations as part of the live, virtual “Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator.” This global engagement took place September 1-3, and boasted cross-department support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Office of Naval Research.

Over 1,000 top-tier researchers, members of industry, higher education leaders, and members of the public from around the world, virtually attended this first-of-its-kind event centered around a $1 million quantum-focused pitch competition for university researchers. Notably, viewers took part and learned more about how advanced research, especially related to quantum, can lead to incredible technological progress, during the keynote, “Quantum Fundamentals for Everyone,” by astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force Acquisition Executive Dr. Will Roper.

Nearly 250 teams from 22 countries submitted proposals to take part in this unique pitch competition. Of those, 36 teams were selected to pitch their potentially game-changing concepts related to quantum timing, sensing, information processing/computing, and communications/networking at the event to an elite panel of judges. On Sept. 1-2, 36 teams pitched ideas ranging from quantum sensors for GPS-denied navigation and a chip-scale integrated quantum platform, to ion traps and innovative lasers, and on Sept. 3, 18 teams went on to qualify for a portion of the more than $1 million in basic research funding provided by the AFRL, AFOSR, and ONR.

The teams qualifying for the $1 million-plus in basic research funds are from the following universities from around the world: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), University of Arizona, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institut d’Optique Graduate School, CNRS, The Australian National University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Melbourne, University of Chicago and, Monash University, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Texas at Austin and New York University, University of Queensland, University of Sydney, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Harvard University, Syracuse University, UC Berkeley.

During a very robust keynote conversation titled “Quantum Fundamentals for Everyone,” astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force Acquisition Executive Dr. Will Roper, spoke about quantum physics, quantum mechanics, the universe and even fine art.

“If you are a researcher, thank you for being here. We are rooting for you. I hope you win. I hope that you bring in that next spooky effect, that will eventually, hopefully, become commonplace for us, like the laser is today,” Dr. Roper said to the audience at the close of the keynote. “For the students who are here, we really welcome you. We are excited about your interest in science. The Air Force and the Space Force are great places to be scientists. We really, really love technology and science and service. We would like, at this event, which we will continue each year, to bring a new quantum phenomenon into the military. I don’t care what it is. We just want to start making this new battleground of physics something that is as commonplace as the airplane or satellite is today.”

The event also featured breakout sessions, “Coffee and Concepts” and “Poster Sessions,” with the purpose of stimulating collisions of thought through meeting new people, making connections and chatting about all-things quantum.

The “Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator” was the kick-off event for the Innovare Advancement Center, the new open innovation campus located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, N.Y.

“The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate welcomes you to the Innovare community, our launch pad for creative collisions among the international research community,” said Col. Timothy Lawrence, director of AFRL’s Information Directorate, during the opening ceremony. “The Air Force Research Laboratory launched the ‘1 Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator’ in partnership with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Office of Naval Research, because we are focused, and we are motivated, and we know you are too, to accelerate the achievement of quantum breakthroughs that can elevate our game – in the air, on the land, at sea, in space and cyber space.”

“With the opening of the Innovare Advancement Center, we’re bringing together government, industry and academia, and it’s a great place for researchers from all around the world to come together and continue this important work,” said AFRL commander, Brig.  Gen. Heather Pringle, during opening remarks. “Quantum breakthroughs are challenging and it’s going to take all of us coming together, to solve them effectively.”

In addition to the above, honorable guest speakers from industry, academia and government also took part in the 3-day event, including: Office of The Under Secretary of Defense; U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy; Office of Naval Research; Air Force Office of Scientific Research; The Quantum Economic Development Consortium; IBM; Citigroup; NY Creates; Oneida County; University of Queensland Australia; Stony Brook University; SUNY Polytechnic Institute

As Innovare-connected research takes place at partnering organizations all over the world, the Innovare launch is concurrently a bold step forward in implementing the National Quantum Initiative Act, which aims to foster the development of a quantum technology ecosystem among government, industry, and academia.

The 3-day event is now available for viewing on YouTube:

•     Day 1 –

•     Day 2 –

•     Day 3 –

About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit:

About Innovare Advancement Center

Innovare Advancement Center aims to be a global catalyst to converge world-class talent with cutting-edge facilities and focused technology challenges to accelerate the development of game-changing capabilities that protect and empower our country. An open innovation environment immediately adjacent to Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate in Rome, NY, Innovare Advancement Center offers a globally connected innovation ecosystem in which world-class scientific, engineering, and entrepreneurial talent from universities, government, and industry can leverage highly specialized resources in critical research areas, including artificial intelligence/machine learning, cybersecurity, quantum, and unmanned aerial systems to tackle the country’s greatest challenges to national security and economic competitiveness. To learn more, visit

By Deliarae Jesaitis, Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs / Published September 09, 2020

NY CREATES Announces New AIM Leadership

NY CREATES (New York Center for Research, Economic Advancement, Technology, Engineering and Science) announce the appointment of Dr. Michael J. Cumbo as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a program of NY CREATES, effective July 6, 2020.  Dr. Cumbo succeeds Dr. Michael Liehr in the role.

AIM Photonics is the nation’s premier Photonic Integrated Chip (PIC) manufacturing institute advancing Integrated Photonic technology and workforce innovation. A public-private partnership, founded in 2015, AIM Photonics is celebrating 5 years of success and is nationally recognized for creating the world’s first open-access complete Integrated Photonic manufacturing ecosystem, which provides the photonic community and DoD access to a full suite of advanced technology, capabilities, and resources throughout the entire product development cycle.

“The AIM Photonics executive team is pleased to welcome Dr. Cumbo, a highly experienced and accomplished technology executive, as the next leader of this important manufacturing institute,” said Dr. Douglas Grose, President of NY CREATES.  “Mike brings valuable experience to AIM Photonics as a results oriented, customer-centric technology business leader, in addition to his proven ability to move technology and teams ‘from lab to fab,’ and transforming new technologies into profitable businesses.”

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “AIM Photonics is advancing New York State’s leadership in optics, photonics and imaging by attracting industry innovators from across the globe, building on Governor Cuomo’s targeted Upstate investment that has grown the Finger Lakes region as an OPI industry hub. Dr. Michael Cumbo’s experience and leadership will no doubt help AIM to further expand its presence both statewide and around the world and we are pleased to officially welcome him aboard as the consortium’s new CEO.”

“As we celebrate AIM Photonics’ 5 year anniversary, and look to the next 5 years, what better way to celebrate than to welcome back to Rochester, Michael Cumbo,” said Mr. Ed White, National Photonics Initiative Chairman and Associate Vice President for AIM Photonics Test, Assembly, and Packaging (TAP) facility in Rochester, NY.  “AIM Photonics will benefit significantly from Mike’s technology leadership expertise, and I look forward to working with him to continue the advancement of the TAP facility and sharing his vision for the next 5 years and beyond.”

Prior to his new role, Dr. Cumbo was Vice President of Optics for ZYGO Corporation, a unit of AMETEK, which designs, develops and produces complex electro-optical systems and high-precision optical components for the Medical/Life Sciences, Defense & Aerospace, Semiconductor, and Industrial OEM markets.  He had full P&L responsibility and drove significant improvements in the business during his tenure.  He is the Founder and Chairman of Sandia Electro-Optics Corporation (SE-OC), Albuquerque, NM, an employee-owned enterprise devoted to the incubation of innovative measurement instruments in the life science and environmental sensing market segments. 

Previously, Dr. Cumbo spent 30+ years managing various levels of photonic technology development across the globe, most recently as President of IDEX Optics & Photonics.  He also spent time as a key advisor and expert supporting improvement programs for a number of venture capital startups.  Prior to that, Dr. Cumbo managed various photonics based companies including; Executive Vice President and General Manager, Coherent, Inc., Vice President and General Manager, Uniphase Commercial Laser Division, Vice President of R&D and Chief Technical Officer, OCLI, Vice President and General Manager, OCLI Telecom Division, as well as a number of management and engineering positions with OCLI, Bausch & Lomb, and Eastman Kodak in his home town of Rochester, NY. 

Dr. Cumbo holds a Ph.D. in Optics, an M.S. in Optical Engineering, and a B.S. in Physics from the University of Rochester (UofR), as well as an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  He has 11 patents, and authored 22 technical journal papers and conference proceeding articles.  He was chosen to announce the Prism award by SPIE at Photonics West 2012. 

NY CREATES COO Mr. Paul Kelly said, “AIM Photonics is leading how integrated photonics are developed and built and we’re proud to have such an exceptionally qualified leader to continue the program as part of the NY CREATES family, especially during AIM’s fifth anniversary.  We look forward to Mike leading the charge and taking AIM Photonics and Integrated Photonics to the next level.”

“I am excited to be joining the talented team at AIM Photonics, the nation’s premier Integrated Photonic manufacturing institute,” said Dr. Cumbo. “The recent innovations and applications demonstrated by AIM Photonics are already changing the world as we know it.  I’m honored to continue the efforts and look forward to expanding the technological opportunities in my home town of Rochester, NY, as well as within the state of New York and across the nation.”  

A vital component of NY CREATES is AIM Photonics, with more than 120 members, including those focused on data communications, sensors, quantum and neuromorphic computing.  AIM featured services include our industry leading Process Design Kit (PDK), Multi Project Wafer (MPW), and Test, Assembly and Packaging (TAP), which include a comprehensive set of silicon Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) devices enabling the implementation of next-generation products.

Dr. John Bowers, Deputy CEO of AIM Photonics, and distinguished professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) said, “We are just beginning to see the significant impact AIM Photonics is having on the world of integrated photonics.  There is so much more to accomplish, and it is a pleasure to have an individual of Mike’s qualifications leading us through the next phase.”

Dr. Cumbo will open the AIM Photonics 2020 Summer Members Meeting which is scheduled for July 15th, at 2:00PM (EST).   Details on the upcoming Members Meeting and additional events can be found at the AIM Photonics events website.


At 5-Year Mark, AIM Photonics Looks Back on Key Accomplishments, Future Goals

ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 16, 2020 — Since 2015, AIM Photonics has been at the forefront of New York’s success in the integrated photonics arena. Over the past five years, AIM has created a photonic integrated chip (PIC) manufacturing ecosystem, providing the photonics community with access to advanced technology, capabilities, and resources throughout the entire PIC product development cycle, from design, proof of concept, piloting, and development, to final test, assembly, and packaging, prior to commercialization.

This ecosystem has enabled small- and medium-size businesses, which would otherwise be priced out of the market, to bring integrated photonic chip (IPC) technologies through the product development cycle. Members  (there are over 120) and partners can use the resources provided by AIM without incurring prohibitive costs or risking more than they can afford. AIM’s test assembly and packaging (TAP) facility in Rochester, N.Y. — one of the organization’s primary achievements during its first five years — is the only 300-mm photonic packaging research facility in the world with open access.

“The test assembly and packaging facility is key to advancing the technology,” Ed White, AIM Photonics associate vice president and National Photonics chair, said. “Allowing companies to have access to the means to get their photonics product to market is something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, except in privately owned facilities.” The cost of developing a chip is very high, and assembly and packaging easily make up one-half of that cost, White said.

Ed White (left), associate vice president of AIM Photonics TAP facility and National Photonics Initiative chairman, describing how a 300-mm wafer is tested in the analytical lab. 


The TAP facility makes it possible for small companies that may need only one chip on a wafer to develop and produce only what they need. “We help them get in the game by giving them access to very expensive technology,” White said. “Their minimum run can be what they need it to be — one chip or 10 or 50. We can provide the means to package for as many or as few wafers as needed.” TAP has development and production process capabilities in wafer scale, chip scale, and I/O attach. The facility has state-of-the-art test and metrology capabilities for each of these functional areas.

AIM’s IPC development team in Albany, N.Y., is available to help AIM Photonics members with their IPC designs. The photonics member community can access design libraries created by AIM and then transfer that design to the chip development team in Albany. After the PIC is made, it’s transferred to the TAP facility for final test, assembly, and packaging.

AIM Photonics TAP engineer testing wafer in the analytical lab.


The AIM ecosystem — composed of the Process Design Kit (PDK), Multi Project Wafer (MPW), private and custom wafer runs, and the TAP facility — has led to significant advancements in PIC technologies over the past five years. “Many industry, government, and academic partners have stated that without the ecosystem, some of the current advancements would not have been possible for another five to 10 years,” Frank Tolic, chief marketing officer, said. Developments facilitated by the AIM ecosystem during its first five years include quantum photonic chips; advances in biomedical and biochemical sensors; optical transceivers that today perform at the speed of 400 to 800 Gb, and that in the future will perform at Tb speed; radio frequency (RF) over fiber applications; and lidar on a photonics chip.

Photonics in the Time of COVID
By drawing on its experience in managing product timelines and scaling production, AIM Photonics was able to respond quickly to the pandemic, submitting a proposal to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to be one of the first to support research in testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. AIM is helping industry, the DoD, and research labs collaborate on sensors for the testing, with the goal of having new sensors on inexpensive silicon chips by 2020-2021 flu season. While initial commercial rollout will be to clinical laboratories, the ultimate goal is to have a point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 test for use wherever flu tests are offered. AIM is facilitating a collaboration between the University of Rochester and Ortho Clinical Diagnostics to develop sensors for SARS-CoV-2 testing, and is partnering with researchers at SUNY Polytechnic Institute on the development of microfluidic devices for use in testing for SARS-CoV-2. 


Helping Lockheed Realize RF over Fiber Solutions for Its Platforms
Lockheed Martin is working with AIM Photonics to improve RF over a fiber network. Integrated photonics will allow the company to use more compact chips, reducing size and weight and saving power. IPCs will give its data communications more bandwidth and scalability. The business will be able to respond to new requirements quickly, without the need to re-cable, by moving existing fiber cabling to a different frequency and using multiplexing to put multiple sources of information on a single fiber. Lockheed has been a member of AIM Photonics since 2017.


Engineers analyzing AIM Photonics device structures in chips at TAP analytical lab.


AIM is working to extend its funding agreement with the DoD and the contracting process it uses in support of the congressional plus-up program. New York State has made a strategic investment in AIM Photonics, providing $250 million in funding. “A large portion of that was spent on the TAP facility in Rochester, on new metrology tools and equipment that is now being used by our members,” Tolic said.

In the next five years and beyond, AIM will seek to advance the IP ecosystem it has created through continued collaboration with its members and partners. Some existing and new technologies that AIM will focus on could include new PDKs for specific technologies such as sensors, packaging, and quantum. AIM will continue to welcome and support new ideas and collaborations from industry, academia, and government. It also intends to expand educational programs for PIC technology and applications, with a focus on expanding these programs to community colleges and undergraduate programs across the U.S.

Recently installed new equipment at Rochester, N.Y., TAP facility.


The AIM Photonics TAP facility continues to engage with existing and future clients. The TAP facility is currently engaged with more than 20 customer projects and is in discussions with a number of other organizations about future work. The interest in the AIM Photonics TAP facility is high among the photonics community. “Nearly half of the people who visited us at the last nonvirtual conference, Photonics West 2020, had a primary interest in the AIM Photonics TAP facility,” Tolic said. “We are working with several Rochester-based companies and universities, including Ortho Clinical, Syntec, L3Harris, Mosaic, UR, and RIT, and new companies are looking to work with us, especially in the areas of sensors and datacomm.”

If you are interested in learning more about how the AIM Photonics ecosystem can help you bring your idea for a photonics product to market, visit Your information will go directly to the AIM Photonics business development team. 

Jun 2020