Howard (Ho Wai) Lee

Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy
4158 Reines Hall

Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, 2012-2015
Ph.D., Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Physics, 2012
MPhil, City University of Hong Kong, Electronic Engineering, 2008
BSc., City University of Hong Kong, Applied Physics, 2006

Professor Howard Lee is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UC Irvine. Before joining UCI, he was an Associated Professor in the Department of Physics at Baylor University and IQSE Fellow and visiting professor in the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering (IQSE) at TexasA&M. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Caltech, working with Prof. Harry Atwater in active plasmonics/metasurfaces. He received his PhD in Physics from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Germany in 2012 under the supervision of Prof. Philip Russell (2015 President of OSA). His current research focuses on active linear, nonlinear, and quantum plasmonic/metasurface/zero-index optics, quantum biophotonics and imaging, “meta”-fiber optics, and hybrid photonic-plasmonic on-chip optical devices. His work on nano-optics, plasmonics, and photonic crystals has led to 45 journal publications in various journals, such as ScienceNano LettersAdvanced MaterialsACS Photonics, and Laser & Photonics Reviews as well as 80 invited talks and 150 conference papers. Dr. Lee is a recipient of a 2024 SPIE Fellow, 2023 Finalist of Moore Inventor Fellow, a 2023 UCI Beall Innovation Award in Physical Sciences, a 2023 SONY Focused Research Award, a 2022 Finalist of Moore Inventor Fellow, a 2021 iCANX Young Scientist Award, 2021 Finalist of Rising Stars of Light, 2020 SPIE Rising Researcher, a 2020 Baylor Outstanding Professor Award, a 2019 DARPA Director’s Fellowship, a 2019 IEEE OGC Young Scientist Award, a 2018 NSF CAREER Award, a 2017 DARPA Young Faculty Award, a 2018 OSA Ambassador, a 2017 APS Robert S. Hyer Award, a 2018 Baylor Young Investigator Award, a 2016 Baylor Proposal Development Award, and a 2012 Croucher Postdoctoral Fellowship. 

He organized more than 25 technical sessions in nanophotonics/metasurfaces in international conferences (CLEO, META, PQE, MRS) and serves as Lead Symposium Organizer for plasmonic/metasurface symposiums at 2019-2024 MRS Fall Meeting and 2020-2024 MRS Spring Meeting. He is a Founding Associate Editor for OSA Continuum and Associate Editor for Scientific Reports and Photonics journals. He is a Fellow of SPIE.

Current Research Interest:

  • Active nano-optics/plasmonics/optical metasurfaces (include optoelectronic, nonlinear-optical, quantum-optical, magneto-optical effects)
  • Zero-index linear and nonlinear optics and materials
  • Quantum bio-photonics/imaging using nanophotonic platform
  • Nanostructured optical fiber for advanced light manipulation, sensing/lasing, and spectroscopy
  • Hybrid photonic-plasmonic on-chip optical nanocircuits and devices
  • Extreme light-matter interaction

Group Website


2024                             SPIE Fellow

2023                             Finalist of Moore Inventor Fellow\

2023                             SONY Focused Research Award

2023                             UCI Beall Innovation Award in Physical Sciences

2023                             Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, Department of Physics & Astronomy, UC Irvine

2022                             Finalist of Moore Inventor Fellow

2021                             iCANX Young Scientist Award 

2021                             Finalist of Rising Stars of Light

2020                            SPIE Rising Researcher

2020                            Outstanding Professor Award at Baylor University

2019                            DARPA Director’s Fellowship

2019                            Young Scientist Award, IEEE Optoelectronics Global Conference

2019                            OSA Senior Member

2018                            NSF CAREER Award

2018                            OSA Ambassador

2017                            APS Robert S. Hyer Award

2017                            DARPA Young Faculty Award

2017                            2018 Young Investigator Award, Baylor University  

2015                            Fellow, The Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University

Faculty Assistant: 
Jan Strudwick,, (949) 287-3922