Materials Science and Technology Division
Dr. Ho Nyung Lee earned his PhD in condensed matter physics from Korea University, Seoul, in 1999. Following a postdoctoral position at Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics, in Halle, Germany, he joined ORNL in 2002 as a strategic hire. Dr. Lee led efforts to advance the precision synthesis of oxide quantum heterostructures and to prominence the use of epitaxial strain and interfaces in perovskite-based artificial superlattices to discover novel phenomena or improve physical properties. The method offers unprecedented freedom for materials design that can be applied to synthesize artificially layered superlattice crystals, in which the functionally cross-coupled interfaces introduce new behaviors or improved physical properties unique to 2D systems. Dr. Lee currently leads efforts to apply precision synthesis techniques to elucidate the functional coupling of interfacial magnetization in correlated thin films and their heterostructures, which allow for tailoring physical properties through deliberate tuning of interactions between the lattice, spin, charge, and orbital degrees of freedom in correlated quantum materials. These efforts have helped positioned ORNL as a leader in the fields of correlated quantum heterostructures. His advice is valued and sought out by peers and Laboratory management.
Dr. Lee became a Corporate Fellow in July 2020 and currently serves as director of the US Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Energy Sciences Materials Sciences and Engineering (BES-MSE) Program at ORNL. He oversees the basic research portfolio that spans multiple ORNL research divisions, representing one of the largest BES-MSE investments with national laboratories. This includes experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, physical behavior of materials, mechanical behavior and radiation effects, neutron scattering, electron and scanning probe microscopies, synthesis and processing science, and materials chemistry. Dr. Lee has also served ORNL as interim Materials Science and Technology Division director (2019) and Quantum Heterostructures group leader (2013–2020). He plays a central role in the expanding landscape of the DOE National Quantum Initiative and has worked to increase the impact of ORNL’s relationship with the University of Tennessee–Knoxville. He has also helped BES drive new science initiatives. For instance, Dr. Lee co-chaired the BES-sponsored Basic Research Needs Workshop on Transformative Manufacturing in 2020.
Dr. Lee has earned the recognition of the science community with awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2007), the highest honor bestowed by the US government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers; named as a Frontier Research Scientist (2011) from the Korean Academy of Science and Technology, Fellow of the American Physical Society (2016), and Fellow of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology. He earned the UT-Battelle Science and Technology Award (Scientific Research), in 2005 and 2012, and the inaugural Bombi Prize (2002) from the Korean Physical Society.
He has mentored group members, early careers, his peers through the BES-MSE program, and six graduate students, and he has advised or co-advised 26 postdocs. He has actively supported STEM educational programs and hosted numerous summer interns, including Siemens STARs, and Appalachian Regional Commission’s Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute.