ABOUT THE ASRC: A Q&A with Director Jacob Trevino

Jacob Trevino, PhD, the NanoFabrication Facility Director and Research Associate Professor at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC).

Jacob Trevino, PhD, the NanoFabrication Facility Director and Research Associate Professor at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC).

Perched on a hilltop in Harlem, New York City, The CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) serves as a home to cutting-edge nanotechnology companies. From the state of the art equipment to its location in the best city in the world, there is no facility quite like the ASRC.  Here Jacob Trevino, PhD, the ASRC NanoFabrication Facility Director, discusses why you should consider moving your business to the lab on the hill.

What goes on at the ASRC?

The ASRC is a hub for innovative and collaborative research and engineering, serving as a home to researchers in Nanoscience, Photonics, Structural Biology, Neuroscience, and Environmental Sciences. The building is also home to several state-of-the art core user facilities, of which the NanoFab is the largest. These core facilities draw users from several area universities, start-up companies and industrial manufacturers, that utilize the equipment and expertise to help develop new technologies and products.

What kind of companies and projects work in the ASRC?

The ASRC draws a wide range of companies, in application spaces such as biotechnology, consumer electronics, semiconductors, watchmaking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and more. Projects can be as simple as utilizing a single piece of equipment for characterization of an existing product or process, to utilizing a series of systems at the ASRC to develop or manufacture a new product.

Dr. Trevino discusses process parameters with Firehouse Horology co-founders Nicholas Manousos and Kiran Shekar.

Dr. Trevino discusses process parameters with Firehouse Horology co-founders Nicholas Manousos and Kiran Shekar.

What kind of supports do you offer to the companies and scientists who work at the ASRC?

At the ASRC no prior fabrication experience is required. All users are offered a consulting session to discuss the application and goals of their particular project. We offer initial guidance and can help develop an action plan to achieve these goals. We offer free training on all of our equipment, providing users with the basics of tool operation and an introduction to process theory. As users face process challenges, our staff is always available to help overcome any difficulties. Beyond these standard services, we can offer more in-depth assistance with product development and even foundry services, where our staff can help process devices.    

What technology would I have access to as a member?

As a member of the ASRC NanoFab, users have access to state-of-the-art micro and nanoscale fabrication equipment, including lithography, etch, deposition, and metrology systems. The ASRC NanoFab maintains one of the most advanced set of lithographic tools on the east coast, with capabilities to pattern nanostructures down to 10 nanometers (Elionix, electron beam lithography) and nanoscale 3D printing (Nanoscribe, direct laser writing). In addition to the systems in the NanoFab, users immediately have access to the many other core user facilities at the ASRC, including: Surface Science Suite, Imaging Facility, NMR Spectroscopy Facility, Mass Spectroscopy Facility, Laser and Spectroscopy Facility, and many others.

What differentiates the ASRC from other nanotechnology facilities?

The first difference is the physical make-up of the facility and its equipment. The ASRC itself is architecturally stunning and highly functional. The facility was designed to promote collaboration with several common areas open to all users, including tea rooms, a 24/7 café, lockers, and lounge areas. All equipment in the ASRC has been purchased and installed within the past two years and is staffed with highly experienced scientists and engineers. Another differentiator is the openness of the facility. Many similar facilities across the nation have limited access to equipment and training, while the ASRC core facilities have been formed from the beginning to be highly accessible and affordable. The ASRC is a major public investment and it is the mission of the facility and its employees to be a catalyst for science, innovation, and economic development in New York City.

Lumiode engineers, Dr. Sibel Leblebici and Dr. Nancy Twu, review spectral reflectance data with Dr. Trevino in the NanoFabrication Facility.

Lumiode engineers, Dr. Sibel Leblebici and Dr. Nancy Twu, review spectral reflectance data with Dr. Trevino in the NanoFabrication Facility.

What is the ASRC’s capacity?

The ARSC has significant capacity to host several more companies and researchers. The facility runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is configured to run 4” wafers and in most tools up to 6” wafers. This allows for batch processing, creating hundreds to thousands of devices per wafer, and in many cases supporting low volume manufacturing. The NanoFab also partners with foundry services in upstate New York to help companies produce at even higher volumes if needed.

What does it cost to work at the ASRC?

The ASRC will train any interested member for free. Once qualified on a tool, users can use that piece of equipment as needed and are charged a tool-specific hourly rate. For academic users, these rates range from $5 to $45 an hour. For start-up companies and larger industrial users, the rates are between three and five times higher. Additionally, the facility offers a monthly cap for each category for unlimited processing. All rates are published on our website.

How did the ASRC come into being?

The State of New York wanted to elevate the importance of science across CUNY and the city. With the establishment of the ASRC the state has demonstrated its commitment to the future as well as to renewing CUNY’s legacy as a hub of world-class science. The facility seeks to investigate critical scientific/societal challenges, encourage interdisciplinary research and scholarship, promote community engagement and awareness, support student learning, and develop solutions to benefit the people of New York and the larger community. The NanoFab in particular fills a unique void in NYC. Prior to the opening of the facility, companies needing advanced fabrication were forced to move to other cities, like Boston or San Francisco, where this type of facility is more common.

How do I apply?

Step-by-step instructions on how to become a member can be found at http://nanofab.asrc.cuny.edu/become-a-member/. Additionally, if you are interested in discussing potential projects or have any questions at all, you can always email me at Jacob.Trevino@asrc.cuny.edu.