(Updated instructor's bio from the "SQUID Technology" APS March Meeting course)

Last Updated: December 2020

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Dr. Michael Burns has worked on Solid State Physics and Biotechnology projects for over almost 30 years.  Dr. Burns is the author of 7 issued U.S. patents in semiconductor, superconductor  and biotechnology fields. He has authored more than  160 publications & presentations.  Dr. Burns is also holder of 10 software copyrights for software ranging from Auger Spectroscopy control & collection, to computer network security.

Dr. Burns is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with BS, MS & PhD degrees in Physics, where at 17 he started college in 1974.   El Camino Real High School 1974

While working on his Bachelors at UCLA, Dr. Burns worked in the Environmental Test Lab at Hughes Missile Systems Division (HMS) of Hughes Aircraft Company. Dr. Burns was awarded a Hughes Aircraft Company Masters Research Fellowship to work on his Masters at UCLA. During that time, Dr. Burns worked on ion propulsion systems at Hughes Research Labs, including performing finite element simulations on ion engines, and developed infrared detectors at HMS.  HMS merged with Raytheon in 1997.

Dr. Burns' PhD was under Prof. Paul Chaikin and he finished the last year of his PhD work at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia when Paul moved there from UCLA. Dr. Burns underwent post-doctorial studies at Penn as well as at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts. Dr. Burns graduate work primarily involved studies of superconductivity and metal-insulator transitions in 2-d films. This work involved the fabrication of ultra-thin (1 atom thick and greater) films, and studies of their electronic properties down to ultra-low temperatures. Other work during this time involved studies of organic quasi-one-dimensional layered superconductors (e.g. (TMTSF)2PF6) as well as natural and artificial quasi-crystalline systems.

Dr. Burns post-graduate work at Harvard primarily involved studies of impurity conduction in semiconductors under Prof. Bob Westervelt using intense magnetic-fields (H< 20 Tesla) to tune the dopant wave functions to induce metal-insulator transitions in degenerately doped semiconductors at ultra-low temperatures (T>0.004 K), as well as continued collaborations with Chaikin studying flux lattices on quasiperiodic superconducting sub-micron networks. This later work extended the mathematical concept of commensurability, showing it can be applied to ordered yet non-periodic systems.

After his post-doctorial studies, Dr. Burns accepted an assistant professorship in the Physics Department at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainseville. At UF, Dr. Burns continued his studies of impurity conduction in semiconductors as well as his studies of superconductivity in films. In addition, using PIXE (Proton Induce X-ray Emission), Dr. Burns & his students demonstrated refractory metals made viable copper diffusion barriers.  This DARPA funded research was aimed towards exploring whether refractory metal cladding of copper interconnects was a viable route to copper use for interconnects in IC's.  Dr. Burns & his students also built one of the earliest reactive co-evaporation systems for the production of YBa2Cu3O7-d (YBCO) thin films.

At UF, Dr. Burns also started collaborating with biologists on a variety of topics. This work led to a number of publications and patents on plant biology, optics, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) microscopy. These biology collaborations included researchers at UF, Stanford, CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, and Harvard.

Also while at UF, in 1990 Dr. Burns became involved in Conductus, Inc., a tiny pre-IPO venture capital funded start-up company in Sunnyvale California created to commercialize the then-new High-Temperature Superconductors (HTS) such as YBCO. Conductus, which went public on the NASDAQ exchange in 1993, in December 2002, merged to become part of Superconductor Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SCON).  Dr. Burns left the University of Florida in early 1992 to devote his full attention to Conductus.  Dr. Burns held numerous positions at Conductus including leading the SQUID department and the Process Development department. While at Conductus, he led the team which created the world’s first two commercial products using HTS technology, the first released in 1992, which was recognized with an R&D 100 Award in 1993.  This included setting up and supervising the manufacturing line for the series of expensive & complex electronic instruments Conductus sold during its early years, supervising the development of the SQUID chips, and developing the cryogenic chip packaging for the SQUID chips. It also involved setting up the medium volume (hundred of units per year) manufacturing, sales & service for these instruments. He is also lead inventor of the technique for co-integrating active HTS devices and CMOS devices on the same integrated circuit chip.  The technique marries two highly disparate and incompatible technologies to produce unparalleled performance unachievable by either technology alone: superconductor technology with high-speed SOI CMOS technology.

After leaving Conductus in 1995, Dr. Burns went to the California Institute of Technology’s NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena to lead development of HTS based Terahertz1 sensors.  In the projects first year, it shared the Award for Technical Excellence for development of 2.5 THz (2500 GHz) quantum noise limited mixers. Dr. Burns also worked on tunnel junction spectroscopic imaging sensors (where each high-quantum efficiency pixel determines the energy of each photon it collects). He also volunteered to be a technical contract monitor for JPL's SBIR program, supervising companies receiving SBIR's. Dr. Burns' work at both Conductus and JPL has been recognized with two NASA Certificates of Recognition.

Dr. Burns left JPL in 1999 to join Revise, Inc. a start-up in Burlington Massachusetts, which made Laser MicroChemical (LMC) tools for MEMS, Circuit Edit and Engineering of high-end microprocessors ( modification of circuits at the prototype "first silicon" stage).2  Dr. Burns led the New Process Development efforts at Revise, Inc.  Revise was sold to FEI Company in July 2003 (NASDAQ: FEIC) and moved to their facility in Peabody Massachusetts.  Dr. Burns was the LMC Product Manager at FEI, leading the integration of the Revise technology and products at FEI. (FEI was acquired by ThermoFisher in 2016.) In 2005, Dr. Burns joined the Charle Stark Draper Lab and in 2006 Dr. Burns joined a small solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) start-up called Lilliputian Systems as "Manager of Electrochemistry Process Development", working on scaling Lilliputian's R&D fuel cell electrode processes to manufacturing, trouble-shooting those processes, and overseeing the pilot production electrode manufacturing. In 2009, Dr. Burns became the Director of Research & Development for Solasta, a solar cell startup with a novel nano-architecture invented at Boston College. During this time he also became a Visiting Scholar in the Physics Department of Boston College. In 2010, after demonstrating a world record level a-Si performance of 10.58% efficiency, Solasta was sold to a foreign solar cell manufacturer and all operations transferred overseas, and Boston area operations were closed. Later that same year, Dr. Burns became a Research Professor (Senior Research Associate) in the Physics Department of Boston College. Presently, Dr. Burns manages the Advanced Engineering group at Cambridge Technology, and laser beam steering OEM. Dr, Burns is also a Visiting Scholar at Boston Colelege.

During his career Dr. Burns has gained extensive experience in R&D, Product Management, both commercial & government Project Management, building labs & managing facilities, and setting up & managing low volume manufacturing.  He has designed and set up several laboratories in both University & Industrial settings. He has designed and built countless thin film deposition systems, laser systems, cryogenic systems, electrical & magnetic property measurement systems and computer control/acquisition systems. Deposition systems have ranged from several ultra-high vacuum ( 10-10 torr) molecular beam epitaxy systems, triple e-beam evaporators, pulsed laser deposition systems, commercial laser CVD systems, and ultra-clean ( 10-10 Torr base) sputtering systems.  These have encompased R&D deposition systems, in-house production deposition systems, and commercially sold systems. He has designed and built numerous laser systems with functions ranging from chemical-state probing, through high-power ablative deposition of epitaxial ceramics, through position sensing. He has also designed & built commercial laser microchemical systems at Revise & FEI, as well as consulted on LMC efforts at Varioscale. Dr. Burns has also designed and built (or re-build) a half dozen He4, He3 and He3-He4 refrigeration systems, the latter capable of milliKelvin temperatures


In 2018, Dr. Burns became the Manager of Advanced Engineering at the Cambridge Technology division of Novanta (NASDAQ: NOVT).


He sometimes consults on technical and patent matters (if his employer allows it), having consulted at various times for Albany Nanotech, Conductus, Great Bay Ventures, Harvard University, Lilliputian Systems, Q1 Nanosystems, Solasta, Star Cryoelectronics and Varioscale.


   1 Terahertz = 1000 GHz = 1 Million MHz. = 1 Million Million Hz. = 1012 Hz.

Laser MicroChemical (LMC) etching is also often called Laser Chemical Etching, or LCE. The Revise machines performed both LMC etching and LMC Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Varioscale presently sells these machines.

Degrees & Academic Positions
Visiting Scholar
Senior Research Associate
Visiting Scholar
Assistant Professor of Physics
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
       (Physics & DAS)
Research Physicist (post-doc)
Ph.D.  in Physics
M.S.  in Physics
B.S in Physics
Boston College (2018-present)
Boston College (2010-2018)
Boston College (2009-2010)
University of Florida (1987-1992)
Harvard University (1985-1987)

University of Pennsylvania (1985)
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 1984
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 1980
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 1978

Related Links:
Publications (by chronology)

Other useful documents generated by Michael Burns

Albany Nanotech
Boston College
Boston College Department of Physics
California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology’s NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
Cambridge Technology
Carnegie Mellon University
Conductus, Inc.
Draper Lab
FEI Company (bought by ThermoFischer in 2016)
Harvard University
           Department of Physics
           Division of Applied Sciences
           Holbrook Lab (Biology)
Hughes Aircraft Company
Hughes Research Labs
Lilliputian Systems Inc. (original website not in service)
Revise, Inc. (original website not in service, bought by FEI Company in 2003)
R&D 100 Awards
Solasta (original website not in service)
Stanford University
Star Cryoelectronics
Superconductor Technologies Inc.
UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles)
UCLA Department of Physics
University of Florida
University of Florida Department of Physics
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania Department of Physics
El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills CA



External links are provided for reference purposes. Michael Burns is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. Copyright © 1997-2024 Michael J. Burns All Rights Reserved.