Michael J. Burns, Ph.D.

Senior Research Associate Faculty



Post-Doctoral Research Fellow – Physics – Harvard University

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow – Physics – University of Pennsylvania

Ph.D. in Physics, University of California, Los Angeles

M.S. in Physics, University of California, Los Angeles

B.S in Physics, University of California, Los Angeles




Over 30 years of experience in product development, basic research, process development and program/product management. I've specialized in start-ups, having been involved with several, three of which had successful exits during my times with them (1 IPO, 2 acquisitions).

Now back in academia, my present research takes advantage of BC's commitment to Integrated Sciences and encompasses Nanotechnology, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, & Organismic Biology, as well as traditional Physics. We do a mixture of computer simulation, theory, and experimental work. My graduate teaching involves mentoring graduate students in pursuit of their PhD's. My undergraduate teaching involves teaching courses as well as course & curriculum development.

Department of Physics, affiliated with Prof. Naughton's Lab

Students in my PHYS65100 Contemporary Electronics class can find course materials here.

Office Phone:
Lab Phone:
Fax Number: (617) 552-8478
BC Electronic Mail Address:

Mailing Address:
Boston College Physics Department
Michael Burns, Higgins Hall, Rm 330M
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Curriculum Vita

LinkedIn Profile
Google Scholar Publication Profile
ORC ID 0000-0001-9804-405X
ISI Researcher ID D-2939-2011


Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Physics, Harvard University (Prof. Robert Westervelt) (1985-87)   
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Physics, University of Pennsylvania (Prof. Paul Chaikin) (1985)        
Ph.D. in Physics, University of California, Los Angeles (1984) (Prof. Paul Chaikin)                                                     
M.S. in Physics, University of California, Los Angeles (1980)
B.S in Physics, University of California, Los Angeles (1978)
El Camino Real High School, Woodland Hills, CA (1974)

~150nm diameter conical a-Si solar cell nanopillar Unit Cell in cross section:

Animation of 3-D Electromagnetic simulation of 600THz (λ=500nm) plane wave impinging
on an infinite array of solar cell nanopillars. Illustration is of one Unit Cell with 3-d Periodic
Boundary Conditions:

Energy absorption map showing all of the energy going into the ultra-thin a-Si PV layer:

Links to light articles & news about Science topics I work on.

Free Software written by me.

Weird But Legitimate Papers on Computer Simulations, Weird Science, and such by other people.



Most of my career has focused on thin-film process development and the optical & electronic properties of thin-films as applied to a variety of applications ranging from IC's, optical detectors, lasers, fuel cells, solar cells, chemical detectors and electron field emission. This includes deposition techniques ranging from Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), Atomic layer Deposition (ALD), Laser CVD, Sputtering, Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE), Pulsed laser Deposition (PLD) and Evaporation (thermal, e-beam, and reactive). These techniques encompass conditions ranging from Ultra-High Vacuum (10-9-10-10 Torr) & High Vac (10-8-10-6 Torr) all the way up to atmospheric (10+3 Torr).

Present Boston College Projects funded by the Keck Foundation, National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Institute of Health (NIH):

For full publication list of the last 30+ years, click here.
click on the button to download a specific paper

Patents and software copyright list

A few recent publications:

Yitzi M Calm,

Juan M. Merlo, Nathan T. Nesbitt, Yitzi M. Calm, Aaron H. Rose, Luke D’Imperio, Chaobin Yang, Jeffrey R. Naughton, Michael J. Burns, Krzysztof Kempa & Michael J. Naughton, "Wireless communication system via nanoscale plasmonic antennas", Sci. Rep. 6, 31710 (2016); doi: 10.1038/srep31710 To view the movie (supplementary video) that accompanies this article, please click here.

Jeffrey R. Naughton, Timothy Connolly, Juan A. Varela, Jaclyn Lundberg, Michael J. Burns, Thomas C. Chiles, John P. Christianson and Michael J. Naughton, “Shielded Coaxial Optrode Arrays for Neurophysiology”  Front. Neurosci. 10: 252 (2016). DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00252

T. Kirkpatrick, M. J. Burns, M. J. Naughton, "The Effects of Geometry on Drift-Limited Solar Cells", Phys. Status Solidi B 253, No. 8, 1653–1659 (2016), DOI: 10.1002/pssb.201552412

Nathan T. Nesbitt, Juan M. Merlo, Aaron H. Rose, Yitzi M. Calm, Krzysztof Kempa, Michael J. Burns, and  Michael J. Naughton, "Aluminum Nanowire Arrays via Directed Assembly",  Nano Lett. 15, 7294–7299 (2015), DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b02408

Michelle M. Archibald, Binod Rizal, Timothy Connolly, Michael J. Burns, Michael J. Naughton, and Thomas C. Chiles, "A Nanocoaxial-Based Electrochemical Sensor for the Detection of Cholera Toxin", Biosensors and Bioelectronics 74, 406-410 (2015), DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2015.06.069, PMID: 26164012

J. Kong, A. H. Rose, C. Yang, X. Wu, J. M. Merlo, M. J. Burns, M. J. Naughton, and K. Kempa, "Hot electron plasmon-protected solar cell", Optics Express 23, A1087-A1095 (2015), DOI: 10.1364/OE.23.0A1087, PMID: 26406739




Other Duties

Courses Taught

Boston College (2010-present):
    PH409 – Contemporary Electronics
    PH424 – Physics of Nanomaterials (substitute)
    PHYS351001 – Contemporary Electronics
    PHYS435001 – Experiments in Physics I (substitute)

University of Florida (1987-1992):
    PHY 4802L – Laboratory Electronics
    PHY 4803L – Advanced Physics Lab
    PHY 4221 - Classical Mechanics
    PHY 6556 - Low Temperature Physics (team taught)


1999 - NASA Certificate of Recognition for Technical Innovation for STJ Photodetector arrays

1997 - JPL Technical Excellence Team Award for the development of 2.5THz Hot Electron Bolometric Mixers

1996 - NASA Certificate of Recognition for Technical Innovation for the co-integration of CMOS & HTS on the same chip. (Associated NASA Tech Brief here.)

1993 - R&D 100 Award , Mr. SQUID™ Project Leader @Conductus (Here for alternative link.)

1978 - Hughes Aircraft Company Master’s Fellowship


Life Member, American Physical Society (APS)

Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Member, Materials Research Society (MRS)

Member, The Optical Society (OSA)


        Curriculum Vita