University of Rochester

New Optics Building Gets $100,000 Boost from Semiconductor Firm

May 28, 2004

To help push the envelope of optics, KLA-Tencor, one of the world’s leading suppliers of process control and yield management solutions for the semiconductor and microelectronics industries, has contributed $100,000 to the University of Rochester’s new optics building fund. The 91,000-square-foot structure will be shared by optics and biomedical engineering departments, with the aim of creating the best optics research facility in the world.

“It is with great pleasure that KLA-Tencor makes this donation to help fund the new optics facility at the University of Rochester,” says Ken Schroeder, CEO of KLA-Tencor. “The university has produced a rich supply of technical talent, which has greatly contributed to our success and growth. We look forward to enhancing our relationship with the University and its future alumni in the years to come.”

According to KLA-Tencor, the advancements in optical technology made possible by the University have played an important role in maintaining KLA-Tencor’s leadership in the semiconductor process control market. The state-of-the-art optics used in the company’s tools are essential in detecting the nanometer-scale manufacturing defects that can cost chip manufacturers millions of dollars in bad products if not caught and corrected. Many of KLA-Tencor’s employees are alumni of the University.

“The University of Rochester is globally recognized as a learning institution that fosters and produces great technological advances in optical science and engineering,” said Kevin Parker, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Donations like KLA-Tencor’s to this building fund will significantly contribute to our continuing excellence in optics education and research.”

The University of Rochester has the oldest optics doctoral program in the nation and the new optics building will strengthen the program with collaborations with biomedical engineering—a field that is seeing tremendous growth across the country. The Institute of Optics’ expansion is focused on enhancing both the pure research conducted at Rochester as well as the ability of the University to create new, revenue-producing technology. As industry starts cutting back on its own research and development, it is turning to academe to fill the need.

The total building project, estimated at $30 million, includes a technology transfer program called the Center for Institute Ventures, which will help produce local high-tech spin-off companies. Investors would come to Rochester looking for help in the development of a new biomedical product; and University researchers would carry out research and prototyping, and then test it in conjunction with the University of Rochester Medical Center. The researchers would be given a stake in the new technology, but could retain their status as University researchers. Startup companies would spin out into local high tech incubators, creating high quality jobs. This makes it much more likely that new companies will be founded in the Rochester area.