Sept. 14--ALBANY -- The SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the military's top research labs to try to land a $70 million federal high-tech manufacturing research center.
The group, which also includes Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, as well as Cornell and Columbia universities, wants to create what would be known as the Power Electronic Manufacturing Consortium.
The schools, along with companies such as IBM Corp. and General Electric Co., want to create the next generation of power switches and electric control devices using semiconductor materials that have less resistance to electrical currents than basic metals-- and are more energy efficient.
The NanoCollege specializes in making devices such as computer chips and solar panels using semiconductor materials, which are used in different combinations for different effects.
In this case, gallium nitride and silicon carbide are the two most promising materials for power conversion technologies.
The money the NanoCollege is seeking is available through the Department of Energy, which wants to create a clean energy manufacturing institute as part of President Barack Obama's plan to fund high-tech manufacturing institutes across the country to help rebuild the country's manufacturing base.
The new semiconductor power controls are envisioned for the wave of clean-tech energy technologies expected to hit the market in products such as electric cars, solar-electric systems and devices used in the high-voltage electrical grid. The NanoCollege would set up up pilot manufacturing for the new devices, likely in the Capital Region.
Details of the NanoCollege's application were made public last week in a filing with state regulators. NYSERDA, the state's main energy agency, says it would pledge $7.5 million to the NanoCollege consortium if it wins the DOE award. The money, which comes from fees charged on utility bills in the state, was originally designated for other NYSERDA programs, and the state Public Service Commission must approve the change.
NanoCollege officials said in July that they intended to apply for the DOE funding after a visit to Albany by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. She said the NanoCollege embraced the model that the Obama administration was looking for in the manufacturing institutes it wanted to open, where academics, scientists and industry worked together in one place. Up to $200 million is being made available by the federal government to create three such institutes.
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