The STEEPER projectSTEEPER was a major European research initiative addressing the alarming growth of energy consumption by electronic devices, ranging from mobile phones to laptops to televisions to supercomputers. STEEPER aims to increase the energy efficiency of these devices, when active, by 10 times and virtually eliminate power consumption when they are in passive or standby mode.
Coordinated by Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), STEEPER included leading corporate research organizations (IBM Research - Zurich, Intel and GlobalFoundries), large research institutes (CEA-LETI and Forschungszentrum Julich), academic partners (University of Bologna, RWTH Aachen, University of Udine and University of Pisa) and the managerial support of SCIPROM.
Find out more about the STEEPER consortium here.
Scientists collaborating on the project applied their expertise and research to tunnel field effect transistors (TFETs) and semiconducting nanowires to improve the efficient use of energy in electronics. To explain the challenge, consider a leaky water faucet -- even after closing the valve as far as possible water continues to drip -- this is similar to today's transistor, in that energy is constantly "leaking" or being lost or wasted in the off-state. In STEEPER, scientists did not only hope to contain the leak by using a new method to close the valve or gate of the transistor more tightly, but also open and close the gate for maximum current flow with less turns, i.e. less voltage for maximum efficiency.
Find out more about the project objectives here.