CNSE wins $6M in sensor projects for military, power gen - Small Times
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CNSE wins $6M in sensor projects for military, power gen

February 25, 2011 -- The Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence (STC) of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany will spearhead a pair of national initiatives valued at $6 million to develop, fabricate and deploy innovative nano-sensing technologies in support of critical applications in the military and energy sectors.

STC has been awarded a $3 million contract by the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego, CA to develop, fabricate and test a variety of smart sensor technologies to enhance military intelligence gathering by soldiers in the field. Featuring a combination of integrated circuits with active sensing technologies, they include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors; inertial sensors, acoustic sensors and energy-harvesting components; opto-electro-mechanical systems; and resistive heaters.

Dr. Richard Waters, fabrications manager for SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego, said, "The critical effort to develop and deploy innovative technologies that not only assist the U.S. military in achieving its strategic objectives, but also keep our fighting forces out of harm's way, will be strengthened through this partnership between SPAWAR and CNSE's Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence."

STC is also working with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) of Palo Alto, CA to design a groundbreaking wireless sensor for monitoring potentially damaging vibration of components on high-speed power generating equipment. This innovative on-line sensor can potentially save the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost availability and repair costs, as well as improving safety. STC will further leverage this work into a $3 million initiative through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a full system. Prototypes are expected this summer for the sensor system, which will initially monitor blades in steam turbines, but is expected to be expanded to include blades in wind turbines, helicopters, jet engines and turbines that power ships and submarines, among other applications.

Steven Hessler, Program Manager at EPRI, said, "The smart sensor technologies STC is developing, using their advanced design and fabrication capabilities, should provide our members with new opportunities to deliver power reliably, efficiently and cost-effectively."

Work for both programs will take place at STC's facilities and be supported by CNSE's Albany NanoTech Complex.

CNSE SVP and CEO Dr. Alain Kaloyeros said, "The UAlbany NanoCollege, through its Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence, is delighted to collaborate with SPAWAR and EPRI on these exciting initiatives enabled by nanoscale innovations. These new partnerships highlight STC's expanded focus on developing smart sensor technologies and solutions to address areas of critical national need, including the military and energy sectors."

CNSE VP for disruptive technologies and STC executive director Paul Tolley said, "We are excited to work with both SPAWAR and EPRI to develop innovative smart sensor technologies that address vital challenges for the U.S. military and the energy industry. These programs demonstrate the growing importance of smart sensor technologies to enable essential system improvements, from the state-of-the-art systems used by SPAWAR to enhance military performance while protecting our soldiers, to the program with EPRI that will ensure reliable power generation with significant financial savings."

Integrated into CNSE in a partnership of two of New York's Centers of Excellence, STC provides certified cleanroom space for fabrication and packaging of MEMS devices that leverages CNSE's $7 billion Albany NanoTech Complex, which features 80,000 square feet of Class 1 capable cleanrooms equipped with leading-edge tools and state-of-the-art capabilities to accelerate 21st century nanotechnology innovations. The UAlbany CNSE college is dedicated to education, research, development, and deployment in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience, nanoengineering, nanobioscience, and nanoeconomics. The UAlbany NanoCollege houses a fully integrated, 300mm wafer, computer chip pilot prototyping and demonstration line within 80,000 square feet of Class 1 capable cleanrooms.

An expansion currently in the planning stages is projected to increase the size of CNSE's Albany NanoTech Complex to over 1,250,000 square feet of next-generation infrastructure housing over 105,000 square feet of Class 1 capable cleanrooms and more than 3,750 scientists, researchers and engineers from CNSE and global corporations. For information, visit

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering's Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center assists small and large companies transition new technologies from concept to manufacturing. STC maintains a 140,000-square-foot facility with over 25,000 square feet of cleanrooms for micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication and packaging, and works with large and medium-sized companies to help them bring new technologies to market; with small companies ready to transition from prototype and low-volume manufacturing to scalable manufacturing; and with various federal agencies to develop technology solutions to areas of critical national need, including smart prosthetics and improvised explosive device (IED) detection. For more information, visit


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