TAKING A BREATHER from the brainwashing over at the Global Foundries media summit last week, the INQ took a tour of Albany University's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), even bumping in to the flamboyant, Ferrari driving doctor Nano, Alain Kaloyeros.
CNSE is purportedly the first college in the world where boffins can dedicate themselves wholly, not partially, to the study of such fascinating subjects as nanoengineering, nanobioscience, nanoeconomics, nano-R&D and deployment of nanoscience.
And this is one campus where the nerdy science types are not relegated to a shoddy, forgotten backwater of the college. The Albany nanotech complex is one of the most advanced research enterprises of its kind, a $4.5 billion, 800,000 square foot behemoth containing no less than 80,000 square feet of class-one capable cleanrooms for its over 2,000 scientists, researchers, engineers, students and faculty.
The college is actually so sexy, it has managed to attract many big corporate partners, ranging from IBM through GlobalFoundries, Toshiba, ASML, Applied materials, Tokyo Electron, Vistec Lithography and Atotech to the US government and industry chip research consortium Sematech. The big firms bring in the big bucks too, with CNSE managing to attract $3.5 billion in R&D investment from its corporate sponsors thus far.
Kaloyeros, who drives a $220,000 black chrome Ferrari with "DrNano" plates, wears ripped, faded jeans and saunters around in a shirt wide open at the neck, gives off more of a Simon Cowell vibe than the head of a cutting edge scientific institute. The flashy professor is more CEO than CAO (chief administrative officer) and has a whopping $696,000 a year salary to prove it - not half bad for a public servant.
The astounding salary is tribute to Kaloyeros' efforts and success in cajoling the state of New York to chunnel over $900 million worth of taxpayers' money into semiconductor R&D, helping to make Albany a mecca for firms like IBM, which set up a chip shop nearby just to be close to the research.
Kaloyeros, who got his PhD in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Illinois in 1987, also has 135 articles under his gem encrusted belt and holds 12 US patents.
None of that, however, is as much of an achievement as having created the only fully integrated 300mm wafer, computer chip pilot prototyping and demonstration line in an academic setting, including one of the most advanced clean rooms for chugging out next generation chips.
"We tell students they should pay us for the privelage of studying here" Kaloyeros quipped to the INQ, whilst showing off battle scars from his past life fighting in the Christian militia in Southern Lebanon.
"Anyone who wants to demonstrate any concept in nanotechnology will have to come here," Kaloyeros told us, dismissing Asia as any sort of competitive threat.
President Obama's $900 billion stimulus plan has also caught the good doctor's eye, with Kaloyeros hoping CNSE might get a good slice of federal dough for even more R&D.
But surely the campus is big enough as it is, we asked. Not according to Kaloyeros who aims to push back the highway and expand if the opportunity arises.
"Imagine having that on your CV," says Kaloyeros with a disarming smile. "Having someone say, 'wow, he actually moved a highway in his last job', that's quite an achievement".
And if his earlier achievements are anything to go by, we have no doubts he'll achieve it. µ
Some more photos from CNSE