Mau-Hsiung Chen


Mau-Hsiung Chen died Feb. 12 due to respiratory disease complications. He was 77.

Chen was a world-renowned physicist in the field of atomic theory and a staff physicist in the Theory and Modeling Group of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Physics Division. Born in Taiwan, Chen received his bachelor’s in physics from National Taiwan Normal University in 1962. After two years of mandatory military service and a year of obligatory high-school teaching duty, he worked as a research assistant at National Tsing Hua University for two years before he came to the United States for graduate study. He received his doctorate in physics from the University of Oregon in 1972 and remained there as a research associate and subsequently a research assistant professor. During this period, he worked on atomic inner shell processes and physics of highly-charged ions. In particular, he carried out influential research on relativistic calculations of Auger transitions and fluorescence yields for atoms and few-electron ions. In 1984, he joined T Division at LLNL as a physicist to work on the X-ray laser project. Stimulated by the data needs of the X-ray laser effort, he performed theoretical studies of relativistic electron correlation problems in atomic structures and atomic transitions, electron-ion and photon-ion interactions, and other atomic processes in hot, dense plasmas. He also made significant contributions to the Lab’s mission by developing cutting edge relativistic code packages to study radiation opacities and model non-equilibrium atomic kinetics in plasmas. He continued to work tirelessly until declining health prompted him to retire in 2014.

For his seminal contributions to the relativistic theory of Auger transitions, the understanding of atomic inner-shell processes and the high precision calculation of the properties of few-electron ions, Chen was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1991. He also was chosen as an outstanding referee of the Physical Review Journal in 2008, the inaugural year of that program. His work in atomic physics played an important part in LLNL’s high energy density physics effort for decades.

Chen met his wife, Mei-Chi, in Taiwan. They got married in 1969 and enjoyed traveling together ever since. Chen was a sports fan and enjoyed fishing and gardening. He also liked to sing karaoke with friends and had a good singing voice. He was a gentle, modest man and was nice to everyone. His work always exemplified the highest scientific standards results. He was deeply respected as a scientist and as a friend and colleague.  

Chen is survived by his wife, one son and two grandchildren. No service was held for him. His family recently conducted a private ceremony at the interment site.