Hui Cao


Cao focuses on understanding and controlling light transport, scattering, absorption and amplification in complex photonic nanostructures. Broadly put, her research is concerned with complex photonic materials and nanophotonic devices, both for fundamental physical studies and for applications. Her research involves nanofabtrication, material characterization, optical measurement with high spatial, spectral and temporal resolution, and numerical simulation.

Current research projects include:

- development of design, fabrication and characterization of semiconductor micro- and nano-lasers;

- realization of random laser - an unconventional laser whose cavity is formed by optical scattering in a disordered medium, and fundamental study of light transport and localization in active random media;

- investigation of color generation by photonic nanostructures in nature and fabrication of biomimetic samples.

Awards & Honors: 

  • Fellow of American Physical Society  (2007)

  • Fellow of Optical Society of America  (2007)

  • Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award from American Physical Society  (2006)

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation  (2004)

  • Outstanding Young Researcher Award from Overseas Chinese Physics Association  (2004)

  • National Science Foundation Career Award  (2001)

  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship  (2000)

  • David and Lucille Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering  (1999)


  • Semiconductor Cavity Quantum Electronics, 2000, Published by Springer-Verlag

Representative Publications: 

  • Hui Cao, "Lasing in Disordered Media", in "Progress in Optics", ed. E. Wolf, North-Holland, vol. 45, 317-370 (2003).

  • K. L. Prudic, C. Jeon, H. Cao, A. Monteiro, "Developmental Plasticity in Sexual Roles of Butterfly Species Drives Mutual Sexual Ornamentation", Science, vol. 331, pp. 73-75, 2011.

  • W. Wan, Y. Chong, L. Ge, H. Noh, A. D. Stone, and H. Cao, "Time-Reversed Lasing and Interferometric Control of Absorption", Science, vol. 331, pp. 889-892, 2011. 

  • H. Noh, J.-K. Yang, S. F. Liew, M. J. Rooks, Glenn S. Solomon, H. Cao, "Control of Lasing in Biomimetic Structures with Short-Range Order", Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 106, 183901, 2011.

  • H. Noh, Y. Chong, A. D. Stone, and H. Cao, "Perfect coupling of light to surface plasmons by coherent absorption", Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 108, 186805, 2012.

  • B. Redding, L. Ge, Q. Song, J. Wiersig, G. S. Solomon, and H. Cao, "Local Chirality of Optical Resonances in Ultrasmall Resonators", Phys. Rev. Lett. , vol. 108, 253902, 2012.


  • "Exciton Polariton Light Emitting Diode", 5,877,509, 1999: with S. Pau and Y. Yamamoto