Chen Ning Yang- A Chinese American Nobel Laureate

Chen Ning Yang (C. N. Yang Chinese: 杨振宁; pinyin: Yáng Zhènníng or English name Frank Yang) is a Chinese born American scientist. He along with Tsung-Dao Lee, won Nobel prize in Physics in 1957 for theory of Non-Conservation of parity. They proposed that law of the conservation of parity is violated in weak nuclear reactions. Yang is also well known for Yang-Mills Theory (in collaboration with Robert Mills), Lee-Yang Circle theorem, Yang-Baxter equation and many other academic achievements.

Yang was born in Hefei, Anhui, China. Frank Yang received his bachelor’s degree from  National Southwestern Associated University (Lianda) with thesis on the application of group theory to molecular spectra, under the supervision of Ta-You Wu. He received his master’s degree from Tsinghua University. He moved to USA for PhD studies, as his departure to USA was delayed for a year, he taught in a middle school during that duration. He Received his PhD from University of Chicago in 1948 under the supervision of  Edward Teller. He was president of National Association of Chinese Americans from 1977 to 1980, as he was American citizen by then.

A notice at Frank Yang’s former residence at Hefei.

Yang married Chih-li Tu (Dù Zhìlǐ) and had two sons and a daughter. Tu passed away in October 2003. Yang met his first wife Chih Li Tu while teaching mathematics at her high school in China. Frank Yang was in the news in December 2004 at the age to 82 then, by marrying his student Weng Fan who was 28 years old at that time. He is one of the biggest Chinese American names, so it made a huge controversy.

Academic Achievements:

Apart from his very famous academic works he has worked on statistical mechanics, condensed matter theory, particle physics and gauge theory/quantum field theory. Topic of his doctoral thesis was about angular distributions in nuclear reactions. Later he worked on famous Fermi-Yang model. In 1956, he and Tsung-Dao Lee proposed that Law of conservation of parity is not conserved in weak nuclear reactions and it was confirmed experimentally in 1956. This academic contribution won him a Nobel prize in physics in 1957. Frank yang is also famous for developing Yang-Mills theory in collaboration with Robert Mills. He studied the theory of phase transition and elucidated the Lee–Yang circle theorem, properties of quantum boson liquid, two dimensional Ising model, flux quantization in superconductors, and proposed the concept of Off-Diagonal Long-Range Order in 1962. In 1967, he found a consistent condition for a one dimensional factorized scattering many body system, the equation was later named the Yang–Baxter equation, it plays an important role in integrable models and has influenced several branches of physics and mathematics.


  • Nobel Prize in Physics – 1957
  • Ten Outstanding Young Americans – 1957
  • Rumford Prize – 1980
  • National Medal of Science – 1986Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture and Medal – 1988
  • Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences of the American Philosophical Society – 1993
  • Bower Award – 1994
  • Albert Einstein Medal – 1995
  • Lars Onsager Prize – 1999
  • King Faisal International Prize – 2001

Note: This article is a part of series of Asian Science Letter about history of Science in Asia. After the series of Asian Nobel prize winners, We’ll Introduce great Asian scientists of their times to promote science. Any suggestions or guest blogs are welcome.

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The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions of Asian Science Letters or its Editors. Information contained in our published works have been obtained by Asian Science Letters from authors believed to be reliable in their field.

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