By Anna Lynn Spitzer
04.15.05 – Peter Burke, UCI assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and a Calit2 academic participant, is the recipient of a National Academies Keck Futures Initiative grant. Burke, one of 14 recipients this year of the $1 million in grants, was awarded $75,000 to support his research on carbon nanotube synthesis.
Burke will use the funds to hire a graduate student and purchase equipment to set up a directed evolution protocol and system in a lab in order to generate preliminary results that could justify larger-scale funding for making a nanotube synthase. He will also use a portion of the funds to attend a workshop in molecular biology and cloning techniques, giving him the training to set up a basic molecular biology lab for studies of genetic expression and enzyme engineering.
Burke’s research focuses on quantum electronics and quantum information science, specifically, the development of high-speed semiconductors and high-frequency electronic and optical devices. He is the recent recipient of a Young Investigator award from the Office of Naval Research.
His current efforts at UCI are aimed at the understanding of high-frequency (microwave and infrared) properties of two-dimensional electron systems formed in semiconductor quantum structures. Future work will include other semiconductor structures, as well as nano-scale devices. The goal is to better understand the fundamental quantum properties of such systems and to find new applications in optics and electronics.
Burke’s work has applications in the areas of wireless communication systems, such as cell phones, satellite communications, radar and high-bit-rate optical communications systems in fiber optics.
The competitive Keck seed grants support interdisciplinary research in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The grants are intended to breach the divide between research on bold new ideas and major federal funding programs that do not provide grants to proposals that are considered risky or unusual.
The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative was launched in 2003 to stimulate new modes of scientific inquiry and break down the conceptual and institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research. Funded by a $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative is a 15-year effort to catalyze interdisciplinary inquiry and to enhance communication among researchers, funding agencies, universities and the general public.