Established in 2013, the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST) is one of six university microelectronics research centers funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support the continued growth and leadership of the U.S. semiconductor industry.
The six centers and their 39 universities make up the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network (STARnet). SRC and DARPA have dedicated $194 million over five years to the six new centers, with each center receiving about $6 million annually.
LEAST explores the physics of new materials and devices that can lead to more energy-efficient integrated circuits and systems. The research focus is on ultra-low voltage and steep transistors – transistors that have steep transitions between their on and off state (less than 60 mV/decade of current).
The research team, led by 30 faculty members from 12 universities, includes recognized leaders in materials physics, materials growth, device physics, surface science, chemistry, density-functional theory, quantum transport, nanoscale characterization, circuits, systems, and architectures.
LEAST is led by the University of Notre Dame. The Center’s technical director is Alan Seabaugh, professor of electrical engineering, Frank M. Freimann director of the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND), and associate director of Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano).
The nine partner universities are Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, University of California Berkeley, University of California San Diego, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Texas Austin, and University of Texas Dallas.
Building on success
LEAST is an outgrowth of research done in the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND), another SRC center established in 2008 and funded under the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with local support from the State of Indiana and the City of South Bend. One of the devices developed in MIND, the tunnel field-effect transistor (TFET) has entered industrial research and development labs worldwide.
The other five centers are:
- the Center for Future Architectures Research (C-FAR) at the University of Michigan
- the Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN) at the University of Minnesota
- the Center for Function Accelerated nanoMaterial Engineering (FAME) at the University of California, Los Angeles
- the Center for Systems on Nanoscale Information fabriCs (SONIC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- the TerraSwarm Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley
Gilroy Vandentop is executive director of STARnet.