Zhen-Ning Franklin Yang (Chinese: 楊振寧; pinyin: Yáng Zhènníng) (born 22 September 1922) is a Chinese American physicist who worked on statistical mechanics and symmetry principles.

In 1957, at the age of 35, he and Tsung-Dao Lee received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their theory that weak force interactions between elementary particles did not have parity (mirror-reflection) symmetry. Chien-Shiung Wu experimentally verified the theory. His relationship with Lee turned sour around 1962 after they had received the Nobel Prize. Their quarrel has been who, among the two of them, first proposed the idea of parity non-conservation for weak interaction up to the present day.

Chen Ning Yang

Chen Ning Yang, aged 35, at the time of the noble prize award.

Yang is also well known for his collaboration with Robert Mills in developing a gauge theory of a new class. Such "Yang-Mills theories" are now a fundamental part of the Standard Model of particle physics.

Born in Hefei (Anhui, China) Yang attended elementary school in Beijing, and middle school first in Beijing, then in Kunming.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree from National Southwestern Associated University in Kunming in 1942. Two years later, he studied for his Master of Science degree with a full scholarship at Tsinghua University, at the time also in Kunming. He attended the University of Chicago on a Tsinghua University Fellowship in January 1946. There he studied for his Ph.D. with Edward Teller and after receiving it in 1948, remained for a year as an assistant to Enrico Fermi. In 1949 he moved to the Institute for Advanced Study and in 1965 to the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

He has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Academia Sinica, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Princeton University (1958).

Yang married Chih-li Tu (杜致禮 Dù Zhìlǐ), a teacher, in 1950 and has two sons and a daughter: Franklin Jr., Gilbert, and Eulee (in order of age). His father-in-law was the Kuomintang General Du Yuming.

He retired from Stony Brook in 1999 and returned to Tsinghua University. His wife died in the winter of 2003. At the age of 82, Yang became engaged to 28-year old Weng Fan (翁帆) who is studying for her masters at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, and married her in early 2005. He has since received much criticism from some Chinese media.


  • Nobel Prize in Physics (1957)
  • Rumford Prize (1980)
  • National Medal of Science (1986)
  • Benjamin Franklin Medal (1993)
  • Bower Award (1994)
  • N. Bogoliubov Prize (1996)
  • Lars Onsager Prize (1999)
  • King Faisal International Prize (2001)


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