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LEAST-Low Energy Systems TechnologyEstablished in 2013, the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST) was 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 dedicated $194 million over five years to the six centers, with each center receiving about $6 million annually.

Center research

LEAST explored the physics of new materials and devices that can lead to more energy-efficient integrated circuits and systems. The research focused 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).

Multidisciplinary team

The research team, was led by 30 faculty members from 12 universities, including recognized leaders in materials physics, materials growth, device physics, surface science, chemistry, density-functional theory, quantum transport, nanoscale characterization, circuits, systems, and architectures.

Seabaugh photo
Alan Seabaugh

LEAST was led by the University of Notre Dame. The Center’s technical director was Alan Seabaugh, professor of electrical engineering, Frank M. Freimann director of the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND), and director of Notre Dame Nanoscience and Technology (NDnano).

The nine partner universities were 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

MIND Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics DiscoveryLEAST was 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 were:

Gilroy Vandentop was executive director of STARnet.

LEAST at a glance
  • Established January 2013
  • 11 universities
    27 principal investigators
    24 postdocs/5 Research Asst.
    72 graduate students 
  • Mission
    To develop low-voltage and steep subthreshold swing components for beyond-CMOS electronic systems.
  • Four research themes
    - Materials, interfaces, and surfaces

    - Quantum engineered steep transistors

    - Transduction components

    - Benchmarks, circuits and architectures
  • Technical director
    Alan Seabaugh (Notre Dame)
  • Managing director
    Robert Dunn (Notre Dame)