Steep Transistors Workshop Gathers Experts from Around the World


On October 5 and 6, the University of Notre Dame hosted the first Steep Transistors Workshop to promote research collaborations targeting the development of smaller, faster, more energy-efficient nanoelectronic devices. The workshop, which had over 90 attendees, representing 34 different laboratories worldwide, was co-organized by Alan C. Seabaugh, Freimann Professor of Electrical Engineering and director of the Notre Dame Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST), and Lars-Erik Wernersson, professor of the Department of Electrical and Information Technology at the Lund University.

Semiconductor devices are at the core of modern electronics. One new class of devices called steep transistors (low voltage with steep turn-on characteristic) are being aggressively studied in an effort to push beyond the physical limits of currently available transistors with the goal of enabling smaller, more energy-efficient devices and systems.


Speakers, who each had 10 minutes to present their latest research results, focused on key issues of interest to the global community and took the opportunity to compare and contrast approaches, air technical challenges, and debate the best paths forward to accelerate development of this important pre-competitive technology. Participants also identified technical topics that require additional focus and discussed socioeconomic factors which impact new technology entry points. According to Peter Kilpatrick, the McCloskey Dean of Engineering at the University, “This was truly a meeting of the minds, and I am confident that this ‘coopetition’ will lead to exciting collaborations and, indeed, breakthroughs in switches and circuits for the computer hardware industry in the near future.”


Experts from 25 universities, 6 companies, plus several national labs and sponsoring agencies attended the two-day meeting. Schools represented included Notre Dame; Carnegie Mellon University; Cornell University; École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne; Forschungszentrum Jülich; Hokkaido University; Lund University; Pennsylvania State University; Purdue University; RWTH Aachen University; University of Bologna; University of California at (UC) Berkeley; UC at Riverside; UC at San Diego; UC at Santa Barbara; University of Illinois; University of Minnesota; University of Pittsburgh; University of Texas (UT) at Austin; UT at Dallas;  University of Tokyo, University of Twente; University of Udine; University of Virginia; and Sungkyunkwan University.

Companies attending the workshop included Cambridge CMOS Sensors; IBM; Intel; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company; Texas Instruments; and Toshiba. Other government agencies and organizations engaged in the meeting included the Office of Naval Research; the National Institute of Standards and Technology; the U.S. Army Research Lab; the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology; AIST, Japan; the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center; Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC); and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The University of Notre Dame is one of several focal points worldwide for development of energy-efficient transistors. The University has world-class semiconductor nanofabrication research and development facilities supporting more than 150 students and faculty. The colleges of science and engineering form an internal research network coordinated under the Notre Dame Center for Nano Science and Technology, which is directed by Wolfgang Porod, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


Based on the success of the event, plans are in the works for a follow-up workshop next year. “It is gratifying to see the wide interest this workshop created and to get so many of the thought leaders in nanoelectronics to Notre Dame. This meeting raised the level of awareness of the key problems that must be solved to make steep transistor technology viable. We are all walking away with a refreshed vision of how to realize a more energy-efficient transistor,” said Seabaugh.

The workshop was sponsored by LEAST through STARnet, which is funded by the SRC and DARPA, and the European Energy Efficient Tunnel FET Switches and Circuits program (E2 Switch).

Originally published by Nina Welding at on October 23, 2015.