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The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a public-private partnership, recently announced a new Defense Department project. The AIM Photonics initiative will help researchers develop sensors that can be employed by photonics-based systems for use in a wide range of applications, such as environmental monitoring, disease diagnosis, detection of chemical and biological weapons, and to ensure food safety.

According to the report by, the $900,000 U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) project, along with an additional $1.41 million in matching funds from AIM Photonics industrial members, will support a consortium of private and public partners led by the University of Rochester.

Professor Ben Miller, the principal investigator of the project, explained:“Sensors represent the interface between the real world and data. Developing a universal set of protocols to design, manufacture, modify, and integrate sensors into photonics systems will not only advance this technology, but also present a tremendous economic opportunity”.

The project will focus on developing the part of the sensor that interacts with what is being detected so that these components can be mixed and matched by manufacturers to build systems that identify a wide range of chemical or biological targets.

Individual photonics sensors can also be miniaturized and packed together in a small space, allowing for the creation of systems that can scan for multiple biological or chemical agents simultaneously. This approach could give rise to new technologies such as a “lab on a chip” that would allow researchers and clinicians to scan for several different proteins in a single blood sample, or enable municipalities to continuously monitor drinking water for dangerous toxins, for example.

“Integrated photonics is a key piece of the 21st-century technology revolution,” said Michael Liehr, CEO of AIM Photonics. “Sensors enabled with the power of integrated photonics will play an integral part of our lives by greatly improving the quality of life for future generations. We are proud to partner with the DoD, the University of Rochester, and our industrial and academic members in the development of this critical technology.”

“The city of Rochester and the State of New York are honored to support the manufacturing of this important sensor technology which will benefit citizens of Rochester, NY, and individuals worldwide,” said Robert Duffy, Chairman of AIM Photonics Leadership Council and President and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.