Ready to Roll

Peter Borgesen brings
industry experience to
microelectronics manufacturing facility

By Eric Coker

The transformation of electronics to smaller, lighter and more portable components is due, in part, to the emerging roll-to-roll manufacturing of flexible electronics.

In 2005, Binghamton University embraced this technology when it was selected to spearhead the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM).

Today, its new director, Peter Borgesen, believes that the work being done by Binghamton University and Watson School faculty and students has been integral to the success of the facility and the maturing field.

“The center is something that is unique to the University: It’s a full manufacturing facility,” says Borgesen, also professor of systems science and industrial engineering (SSIE). “At Binghamton University over the years there has been an emphasis on manufacturing research, and a strong part of that has been in electronics manufacturing.”

For Borgesen, it is important to take a step back from the emerging technology and examine the manufacturing mindset and how vital it is to production and research.

“Manufacturing is more than just making something,” he says. “It’s making a lot of a product and making it cost-effective. It’s the difference between what you make in your garage and what you buy from a commercial supplier.” That difference often leads to a “culture shock” for the entrepreneur, Borgesen says.

“People invent or develop something,” he says. “Then somebody comes and says, ‘This is great. Can you make more?’ ‘Absolutely. Do you want three?’ ‘No, I actually want 5 million.’ There is a major leap from ‘I can make this’ to ‘I can manufacture this.’”

It is natural, therefore, for the Watson School and a department such as SSIE to study manufacturing research to help people and businesses make that leap.

“How do we make things cost-effective?” Borgesen asks. “What are the subtleties that people are missing when they make their own (products)?”

The road to the CAMM

It may seem logical to assume that the lure of overseeing a facility such as the CAMM was Borgesen’s impetus for coming to Binghamton University. But that was not the case.

“I came here because of the manufacturing-research perspective of SSIE,” says Borgesen, who started at the University in January 2009. “And I also came here because of (Watson School Dean) Hari Srihari and the way he built the department. I knew the people; I worked with them for many years. The atmosphere here was like coming home: nice and supportive.”

The region has served as Borgesen’s home base for almost 25 years. He received his doctorate in physics from the University of Aarhus in Denmark in 1982 and worked at Riso National Laboratory and at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics. Borgesen got into electronics materials during his eight years at Cornell University and spent more than 14 years at Universal Instruments in Conklin, N.Y., where he led a manufacturing research effort funded by a consortium of more than two dozen companies from the electronics industry. Additionally, he has published 200 papers and edited six books.

Peter Borgesen

About the CAMM

The CAMM was established by Flex Tech (formerly the United States Display Consortium) and opened in spring 2008 as a collaborative venture among Binghamton University, Cornell University and Endicott Interconnect Technologies, Inc. (EI). Located at EI’s Huron Campus in Endicott, the 10,000-square-foot facility focuses on the development of manufacturing technologies in a flexible, cost-efficient, roll-to-roll format and houses more than $14 million in flexible electronics prototype manufacturing equipment. Innovative products produced there could be used in areas such as lighting, energy and power, and homeland security.

The center, part of the University’s New York State Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging (S3IP) along with the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center (IEEC), the Institute for Energy Efficient Systems (IEES) and the Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP), also brings together government, industry and academic partners. CAMM equipment is available to private industry, which takes part through membership fees and research programs. The growing list of partners includes companies such as Corning, Samsung, Xerox and GE.

“Peter brings decades of experience at leading universities and cutting-edge research organizations that are housed in industry,” says Srihari. “The excellent combination of industry and academia that Peter has, along with his academic background and scholarship, made him a very attractive addition to Binghamton University and the Watson School.”

Besides what he calls the appeal of the “creative leadership” in SSIE, two other factors influenced Borgesen’s decision to move to Binghamton University.

One was the University’s Analytical and Diagnostic Laboratories, which provides access to state-of-the-art equipment (read about the ADL). Second was the opportunity to do something new and different. Borgesen’s experience running a large consortium of industries at Universal made him a natural fit to direct the CAMM and allow former CAMM Director Bahgat Sammakia to concentrate on leading the University’s Center of Excellence.

“It became clear that Bahgat was overloaded. He can’t do everything,” Borgesen laughs. “So they wanted me to give him a hand while he focuses on the S3IP umbrella.”

 “I’m used to involving industry in an active fashion and interacting with them. I don’t have to beg them to come to meetings because they want to be part of what we’re doing.”

Borgesen became CAMM director in October 2009 and has the “energy and enthusiasm” that will bring growth and opportunity to the CAMM and its partners, Sammakia says.

“Borgesen brings a wealth of technical and managerial experiences from previous academic and industrial positions to the CAMM,” he adds. “We look forward to new applications, projects and test beds taking place at the CAMM under Peter’s leadership. These applications will have high intellectual merit and will also have a strong technology transfer element, resulting in a broad and beneficial societal impact.”

On the job

As CAMM director, Borgesen’s mission is to find ways to bring partners to the center. That may mean engaging large companies that want to use CAMM technology or working with small companies that want to become involved, but may not have a completed project and are looking to others for collaboration.

Perhaps most important, Borgesen must think freely and openly.

“When someone comes around and says, ‘Can I do this with roll-to-roll?’ I shouldn’t say, ‘That’s not what it’s intended for,’” he explains. “I need to sit back and say, ‘I hadn’t thought of that. Of course we can. We will find a way.’”

Borgesen also works to get faculty involved with the CAMM.

“We have technical experts, such as Mark Poliks (technical director and chemistry research professor) from Endicott Interconnect Technologies, Inc. (EI),” Borgesen says. “He’s an expert who knows what he’s doing. We have a really good staff and good engineers. So that’s not what was needed most. The CAMM needed the additional faculty involvement: How do we engage the users? How do we develop research programs?”

Membership dues fund campus research projects ― in the Watson School and across Binghamton University ― and faculty members are able to submit proposals that are examined by industry officials. Three meetings per year are held to review projects, including one in which companies discuss their needs and interests relevant to flexible electronics.

“It’s important for faculty to have that direct touch with the people who have the money,” he says. “Faculty members need that feedback from the outside world, especially those of us who are teaching manufacturing courses.”

For Borgesen, the keys to the future for schools such as the Watson School and facilities such as the CAMM are science that is collaborative and multi-disciplinary, and the development of scientists who cannot be boxed into one field.

“You need partners to work with,” he says. “You need to identify people who are going to be able to deliver and be creative and constructive.

“There is a tremendous need for experts with enormous depth, but there’s also a need for these experts to talk with each other. And you must have someone who knows what both parties are saying.”

Borgesen believes that simply having the CAMM up and running is a reflection of short-term success. In the long term, he would like the facility to continue to adapt to the latest industry needs, such as energy technology and sustainability.

“I hope the CAMM will always be a growing place,” he says, “not just for equipment, but for research and application, as well.”

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