By Anna Lynn Spitzer
December 16, 2004 -- Peter Burke, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at UC Irvine, and Calit² academic participant, was one of 86 of the nation's top nanotechnology researchers selected to participate in the second annual National Academies Keck Futures Initiative conference held last month in Irvine. This year's conference brought together researchers from different disciplines and sectors to explore the future of nanoscience in medical imaging, materials science, biological machines and tissue engineering.
Launched in 2003 by The National Academies and the W.M. Keck Foundation, the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative is a 15-year effort to stimulate interdisciplinary inquiry and to enhance communication among researchers, funding agencies, universities, and the general public. The Futures Initiative builds on three pillars of research: interdisciplinary encounters that counterbalance specialization and isolation; exploration of new questions; and communication bridging languages, cultures, habits of thought, and institutions. Key components of the Futures Initiative are encouraging communication among scientists in various fields and between scientists and the public.
Burke leads UCI's Nanotechnology Group, affiliated with the campus's Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility (INRF).
He is interested in quantum electronics and quantum information science, specifically the development of high-speed semiconductors and high-frequency electronic and optical devices. He is a recent recipient of a Young Investigator award from the Office of Naval Research.
Burke's current efforts are aimed at understanding 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, with the goal of better understanding the fundamental quantum properties of such systems and finding new applications in optics and electronics.
In the future, Burke plans to concentrate on the emerging fields of nanotechnology and quantum information science, where the goal is to utilize the laws of quantum mechanics to manipulate, transmit and store information in new, more powerful ways. His 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 National Academies comprise the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.