Tsung-Dao Lee

T. D. Lee

Tsung-Dao Lee

(T.D. Lee; Li, Zheng Dao)

Born:             24 November 1926
                        Shanghai, China

Citizenship:    USA

Field:                 Physics

Alma mater:
                            National Southwest
                                 Associated University
                             Zhejiang University
                             University of Chicago

Known for:       Parity violation
                             Lee Model
                             Non-topological solitons
                             Particle Physics
                             Relativistic Heavy Ion (RHIC)

Notable prizes: Nobel Prize in Physics

Tsung-Dao Lee (T. D. Lee, 李政道 Pinyin: Lǐ Zhèngdào) (born November 24, 1926) is a Chinese American physicist, well known for parity violation, Lee Model, particle physics, relativistic heavy ion (RHIC) physics, nontopological solitons and soliton stars. In 1957, Lee, at age 31, with C. N. Yang received the Nobel Prize in Physics for work on the violation of parity law in weak interaction, which Chien-Shiung Wu experimentally verified. Lee and Yang were the first Chinese Nobel Prize winners.

Lee's ancestral hometown is Suzhou, Jiangsu. He was born in Shanghai, China, and received his secondary education in Shanghai and Jiangxi. The first part of his university education began at Zhejiang University, but was interrupted by the war, so he continued at the National Southwest Associated University (西南聯合大學) in Kunming the next year. Lee went to the University of Chicago in 1946 and completed his PhD with Enrico Fermi. He then worked with collaborators on phase transitions in statistical mechanics and polarons in condensed matter physics. In 1953, he became an assistant professor at Columbia University, and worked mainly in particle physics and field theory. Three years later, at age 29, Lee became the university's youngest full professor. Over the years, Lee has pioneered and developed research ranging from symmetry violations in weak interactions to fields of high energy neutrino physics and RHIC physics. He remains an active member of the Columbia faculty and has held its highest academic rank, University Professor, since 1984. Currently, his interests have turned to the bosonic nature of high Tc superconductivity, the neutrino mapping matrix and new ways to solve Schrödinger equation.

Soon after the re-establishment of China-American relations with the PRC, Lee and his wife, Hui-Chun Jeannette Chin (秦惠莙 Qín Huìjùn), were able to go to China, where Lee gave a series of lectures and seminars, and organized the CUSPEA (China-U.S. Physics Examination and Application).

In 1998, Lee established the Chun-Tsung Endowment Fund (秦惠莙--李政道中国大学生见习基金) in Beijing in memory of his wife, Hui-Chun Chin, who died 3 years earlier. The Chun-Tsung scholarships are awarded to undergraduates, usually in their 2nd or 3rd year, at five universities in China. Students selected for such scholarships are named "Chun-Tsung Scholars" (莙政学者). Chin and Lee were married in 1950 and have two sons: James and Stephen.

Lee reads whodunit novels when he does not work on physics.

His English given name differs dramatically from the then-existing Chinese Romanizations, such as Wade-Giles and Gwoyeu Romatzyh. Tsung Dao Lee is also known as T.D. Lee.


1957 Nobel Prize in Physics
1957 Albert Einstein Award in Science
1969 G. Bude Medal, College de France
1977 G. Bude Medal, College de France
1979 Galileo Galilei Medal
1986 Order of Merit, Grande Ufficiale, Italy
1994 Science for Peace Prize
1995 China National-International Cooperation Award
1997 Naming of Small Planet 3443 as the T.D. Lee Planet
1997 New York City Science Award
1999 Pope Joannes Paulus Medal
1999 II Ministero Dell Interno Medal of the Government of Italy
2000 New York Academy of Science Award
2007 The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Japan


  • Particle Physics and Introduction to Field Theory,
                         Harwood Academic Publishers, 1981
  • T.D. Lee, Selected Papers, Vols 1-3,
                         Ed. G. Feinberg, Birkhauser Boston Inc., 1986
  • Thirty Years Since Parity Nonconservation,
             A Symposium for T.D. Lee,
                          Birkhauser Boston Inc., 1988
  • Symmetries, Asymmetries, and the World of Particles,
                          University of Washington Press, 1988
  • T.D. Lee, Selected Papers, 1985-1996,
                          Eds. H.C. Ren and Y. Pang, Gordon and Breach, 1998
  • Science and Art
                          Eds. T.D. Lee and Liu Huaizu
                          Shanghai Science and Technology Publisher, 2000
  • The Challenge from Physics
                          T.D. Lee
                          China Economics Publisher, 2002
  • Response to the Dispute of Discovery of Parity Violation
                          Eds. Ji Cheng, Liu Huaizu and Teng Li (in Chinese)
                          Gansu Science and Technology Publisher, 2004
                          Cosmos Books Ltd. Hong Kong, 2004
Online Edition (in Chinese)
Updated on May 28, 2007
China Center of Advanced Science and Technology, Copyright © 2007