Kenneth Chau, PhD, PEng

(He, Him, His)

Associate Professor

Applied Science, Electrical, Engineering, School of Engineering
Other Titles: Associate Director, Faculty Development
Office: EME4231
Phone: 250.807.8646

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Optics and optical systems, electromagnetic simulation, wearable sensors, immersive visualization

Courses & Teaching

Capstone design, engineering electromagnetics, technology entrepreneurship for engineers, user-centred immersive design


Light is used to understand the origins of the universe, communicate instantly across the globe, and give insights into our health. By researching how light can be harnessed and controlled, me and my research team are creating technologies that can make our society smarter, safer, and more sustainable.

I’m an Associate Professor at the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan. My core research is in electromagnetic modelling and simulation, optical system design, wearable sensors for metabolic monitoring, and immersive visualization technologies. My research and professional activities aim for real-world impact. Some outcomes of my program include a commercialized wearable metabolic sensor used by world-leading smart watch manufacturers and 100s of researchers at universities in every continent and an immersive visualization technology that is powering the metaverse experiences of professional sports teams in the NHL, MLB, and NBA. I’m proud that the students I train have become societal leaders who are similarly ingrained with a desire to work on the most challenging problems and to develop solutions that meet the needs of end users.

Connect with me to learn more and for opportunities to collaborate on great ideas.



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

Research Interests & Projects

  • Multiscale modelling of optomechanical phenomena
  • Photorealistic computational visualization of optical structures
  • Optical gas sensors for metabolic analysis
  • UV LED water sterilization technologies for remote communities
  • Emotionally responsive extended reality technology

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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