STC Bags $3 Million Contract to Develop Nanosensor Systems for the U.S. Military

The Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence (STC) of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany announced today that it will spearhead a pair of national initiatives valued at $6 million to develop, fabricate and deploy innovative nanosensing 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.

Meanwhile, STC is 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 to develop a full system. Prototypes are expected this summer for the first-of-its-kind 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.

Work for both programs will take place at STC’s facilities and be supported by the unparalleled capabilities of CNSE’s Albany NanoTech Complex, which is the most advanced research and development enterprise of its kind in the world.

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. We look forward to utilizing the advanced capabilities of STC to deliver novel technologies in support of our vital global mission.”

Steven Hessler, Program Manager at EPRI, said, “We are pleased to see that the work we are undertaking at CNSE’s Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence may ultimately lead to a full system which will prove invaluable in addressing an issue of critical importance to the electric power generation industry. 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.”

CNSE Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer 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, and showcase the powerful combination of CNSE and STC in driving high-tech investment and growth in Western New York.”

CNSE Vice President 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.


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