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Bernard Yurke Named INL Distinguished Fellow

By: Kathleen Tuck   Published 9:03 am / February 7, 2017

Bernard Yurke in the lab with a research assistant.

Bernard Yurke, a Distinguished Research Fellow in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering at Boise State, has been named a Distinguished Joint Appointment Fellow by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The appointment is intended to foster collaboration between the two institutions in basic energy science research in coherent exciton interactions in matter.

INL offers a broad array of capabilities in both fundamental sciences and engineering sciences in support of the U.S. Department of Energy mission, and delivers critical outcomes in nuclear, clean energy deployment and critical infrastructure protection.

“It is necessary for our lab to expand emerging core capabilities in chemical and molecular science, and condensed matter physics and materials science in ways that will enable our applied missions,” said Kelly Beierschmitt, INL’s deputy lab director and chief research officer. “One way to do this was to develop a partnership with researchers in materials science at Boise State University. We are thrilled to add Dr. Yurke and the Boise team to our community.”

The national lab is interested in expanding emerging core capabilities in chemical and molecular science, and in condensed matter physics and materials science. One way to do so is to develop a partnership with researchers in materials science at Boise State. Currently, Yurke and his colleagues in Boise State’s Nanoscale Materials and Device Group are developing new technologies for fabricating devices using DNA as a nanoscale building material.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Dr. Yurke, and also serves to highlight the innovative work being done here in the College of Engineering,” said Amy Moll, dean of Boise State’s College of Engineering. “We appreciate the opportunity to continue our strong partnership with INL and look forward to new discoveries and new partnerships that will benefit the state of Idaho and our nation as a whole.”

Yurke is known for his unprecedented work in nanoscale science and technology research, including the development of new technologies for fabricating devices using DNA as a nanoscale building material. He is considered one of the founders of the field of DNA nanotechnology. He and his collaborators at Rutgers University were among the first to introduce DNA nanotechnology into polymer gels, which has created a new class of hydrogels that are now being used to examine cellular responses of spinal cord neurons, detect diseases and monitor drug release. He has authored or co-authored more than 120 publications in multiple fields and holds 13 patents.

The Nanoscale Materials and Device Group at Boise State currently is conducting research in excitonics and quantum computing using biomolecular self-assembly. Researchers have expertise in photonics, plasmonics, DNA nanotechnology and optical and electrical characterization of nanodevices, all areas that are highly suited to pursuing research in the areas INL is interested in.

Yurke will visit INL quarterly to interact with other fellows and scientists at INL, establishing collaborations and pursuing funding from the Department of Energy. In addition, he will continue support and grow research activities within the Nanoscale Materials and Device Group at Boise State. He also will supervise a graduate student and host INL scientists at Boise State.

A Boise native, Yurke completed his first two years of undergraduate work at the then-Boise State College. He then transferred to the University of Texas at Austin where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics. He obtained his Ph.D. at Cornell University in experimental low temperature physics and had an exemplary 25-year career at Bell Laboratories where he became a distinguished member of the technical staff. In 2008, he joined Boise State as a research professor in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.