Wang Yao 姚望

  • Senior Research Fellowship in 2020 at University of Hong Kong
  • Innovation Award in 2013 at University of Hong Kong
Prof. Yao is a theoretician working in an interdisciplinary field across condensed matter physics, quantum physics, and optical physics. He obtained his BSc from Peking University in 2001, and PhD in physics from University of California, San Diego in 2006. He joined the University of Hong Kong in September 2008, and is currently Chair Professor of Physics. His research interest lies in the physics of spin and valley in solids, with a current focus on two-dimensional materials and their heterostructures. He has played a decisive role in creating an important new research direction – valley optoelectronics in 2D materials, which aims to exploit valley, a quantum degree of freedom of electron, in future optoelectronic devices. Prof. Yao has received the OCPA Achievement in Asia Award (Robert T. Poe Prize) in 2014 from The International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers (OCPA), the Croucher Innovation Award in 2013 and Croucher Senior Research Fellowship in 2020 from the Croucher Foundation, the 2021 Nishina Asia Award from Nishina Memorial Foundation, the 2021 RGC Senior Research Fellowship from the Research Grant Council, and the 2021 Xplorer Prize from Tencent Foundation. He has been named by Clarivate Analytics in the list of “Highly Cited Researchers” among the world’s top researchers in consecutive years since 2018. He is elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), and Fellow of Optical Society of America (Optica).


Prof. Yao's main area of research is spin electronics and spin quantum computation, which aim at more energy efficient electronics and much faster information processing, by exploiting new ways to represent information in physical systems (e.g. by using electron’s internal degree of freedom such as spin), and exploiting new principles to process information (based on quantum physics instead of classical physics). The current focus of his team is to investigate electron’s spin and valley pseudospin in newly emerged atomically thin two-dimensional materials, and to explore their quantum mechanical behavior for new concept quantum devices. His most representative work in HKU is the prediction of the physics associated with valley pseudospin of electron, previously thought to be unusable as there lacks control over this degree of freedom. His work makes possible the electrical and optical controls of valley pseudospin, making it a suitable carrier of information in electronics.