Kenneth Chau

Associate Professor

Office: EME4231
Phone: 250.807.8646

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Nanophotonics; Microscopy; Optical sensors

Courses & Teaching

Calculus; Electromagnetics; Computational Electrodynamics, Entrepreneurship


Dr. Chau is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus.  He teaches courses in calculus, electromagnetics, computational electrodynamics, and entrepreneurship.  He is interested in basic questions about the momentum of light and in the development of technologies that harness light at nanometre size scales.


Postdoctoral – National Institute of Standards and Technology
PhD – Electrical Engineering, University of Alberta
BSc – Engineering Physics, University of Alberta

Research Interests & Projects

Plasmonic Metamaterials: Bridging Optics and the Nano-World

Exploring new ways to manipulate light using metallic nanostructures either in one-dimensional (layers), two dimensional (wires), or three-dimensional (particles) configurations. Collectively, such structures are known as “plasmonic metamaterials”. This field of research is relatively new because the possibility of engineering optical materials from the ground up within a short time frame has become feasible only with recent developments in computational electromagnetics and nanofabrication.

Radiation Pressure and Light Momentum

Consensus on a single electrodynamic theory has yet to be reached. Although degenerate sets of electrodynamic postulates can be fashioned to comply with global energy and momentum conservation, hope remains to isolate a single theory based on detailed comparison between force density predictions and radiation pressure experiments. This comparison is two-fold challenging because there are just a handful of quantitative radiation pressure measurements over the past century and the solutions developed from different postulates, which consist of approximate expressions and inferential deductions, are scattered throughout the literature.

Dr. Chau is also working with an international team of researchers to develop highly sensitive techniques to measure the deflection of small objects under light action. Detailed comparisons between simulations and experiments should reveal a single theory of electrodynamics.

Selected Publications & Presentations

  • Kenneth Chau, “Colour from Colourless Droplets,” Nature 566, 458-459 (2019)
  • T. Pozar, J. Lalos, A. Babnik, R. Petkovsek, G. Vinicius, B. Lukasievicz, M. Bethune-Waddell, K. J. Chau, and N. Astrath, “Isolated detection of elastic waves driven by the momentum of light,” Nature Communications 9, 3340 (2018).
  • Mohammed Al Shakhs, Lucian Augusto, Loic Markley, and Kenneth J. Chau, “Boosting the Transparency of Thin Layers by Coatings of Opposing Susceptibility: How Metals Help See Through Dielectrics,” Scientific Reports 6, 20659 (2016).
  • Max Bethune-Waddell and Kenneth J. Chau, “Simulations of Radiation Pressure Experiments Narrow Down the Energy and Momentum of Light in Matter,” Reports on Progress in Physics 78, 122401 (25pp) (2015).
  • Ting Xu, Maxim Abashin, Amit Agrawal, Kenneth J. Chau, and Henri J. Lezec, “All-angle negative refraction and active flat lensing of ultraviolet light,” Nature 497, 470-474 (2013).

Additional publications



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