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Milliwatts with Mega Impact

Anantha Chandrakasan, director of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories, sees big potential for electronics with tiny power needs.

In the MTL At left, Vivienne Sze, SM ‘06, PhD ‘10, Yogesh Ramadass, SM ‘06, PhD ‘09, and Joyce Kwong, SM ‘06, PhD ‘10, discuss an energy-efficient microcontroller chip that operates at very low voltages. At right, Patrick Mercier, SM ‘08, and Denis Daly, SM ‘05, PhD ‘09, test the supply voltages for a chip used to control a moth’s flight.

When Anantha Chandrakasan got up to give his talk at the 1994 International Solid-State Circuits Conference, a crowd quickly filled the room and spilled out into the hallways. Dozens of people couldn’t get close enough to hear. So the organizers decided to do something that they’d never done before for a talk on new research and have never done since: they asked Chandrakasan, who was then a doctoral student at UC Berkeley, to give his presentation again, so that the throng of people who missed it the first time could hear what he had to say.

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