Remis Gaska, president and CEO of Sensor Electronic Technology, today helped dedicate a 15,000-square-foot building that will house the company’s new high-volume semiconductor manufacturing facility. (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)
By Chuck Crumbo
Published Sept. 21, 2012
Sensor Electronic Technology today dedicated a 15,000-square-foot building that houses its new high-volume semiconductor manufacturing facility off Atlas Road in Columbia.
The project, announced Oct. 31, represents a $20 million investment that’s expected to create 150 jobs. The company presently has 86 employees and plans to reach 200 by 2015, a spokesman said.
The company also added 5,000 square feet to its existing research and development facility at 1195 Atlas Road, which is across the highway from the manufacturing facility. The facility now consists of about 20,000 square feet.
“Today is a big day for our company,” said Remis Gaska, president and CEO, noting that the company has moved advanced research and development to high-volume manufacturing of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes, commonly called UV LEDs.
“In five years you will have this technology in your homes, suitcases and your pockets,” Gaska said, who founded the company in 1999 with Michael Shur.
Sensor’s growth plan calls for the manufacturing facility to expand to 130,000 square feet as it develops consumer products.
Applications for the type of LEDs that Sensor manufactures range from detecting lethal bio-agents to cleaning the kitchen counter. Customers include the U.S. military, Department of Homeland Security, NASA and some 400 commercial firms.
Some objects that can’t be seen will fluoresce when exposed to the UV LEDs. For example, anthrax, which is a deadly disease caused by a bacteria that can be used as a bio-agent, will give off a bluish light when exposed to a UV light set for a wavelength of 340 nm or 280 nm.
Although the use of UV light to kill bacteria and germs has been around for decades, the sources of UV radiation — mercury lamps and solid-state gas lasers — are expensive, cumbersome and based on 100-year-old technology.
The advantages of Sensor’s UV LED technology include small size, high speed, lower power consumption and low costs, according to the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency.
Besides military applications for Sensor’s research and development of UV LEDs, industry observers say the company’s products have a number of commercial uses such as disinfecting and sterilizing water and air, the manufacturing of optical sensors, development of pharmaceutical drugs, DNA analysis and treating skin diseases like psoriasis.