KAO, CHARLES K. / Physics / Researchers

International Center for Scientific Research


Physics / KAO, CHARLES K.


Retired from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China, and Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow, United Kingdom.

Research interests

Fiber technology, instrumentation

The innovative idea of using the glass fiber to carry light signals has won Mr. Charles k. Kao a Noble prize. Scientists knew for years that light signals can carry information while traveling though a glass. But difficulties arose in initial experiments as the glass absorbed most of the light signal making it too weak to deliver any information. Charles K. Kao discovered the cause of this absorption and found it that impurities in the glass absorbs the light signal. Charles K. Kao presented the denied the claims that’s glass’ structure causes the weakness in the light signal and theorized that it is the impurities in the fiber which absorbs the light signal making it considerable weak. He proposed that a more refined glass fiber can help to solve the problem. His theory was practically used in the making of a thin glass fiber at Coring Glass Works in New York in 1971 and technicians successfully made a fiber which could carry light for longer distances without weakening it considerably. This work laid the foundation of fiber optic communication which is being used today to carry data throughout the world. Charles K. Kao’s discovery has brought a whole new aspect in the way we communicate. Charles K. Kao’s work has been honored with Noble Prize.

Prizes and awards

1976: The Morey Award, American Ceramic Society, USA.
1977: The Stewart Ballantine Medal, Franklin Institute, USA.
1978: The Rank Prize, Rank Trust Fund, UK.
1978: The IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award.
1979: The L. M. Ericsson International Prize, Sweden.
1980: The Gold Medal, AFCEA, USA.
1985: The IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal.
1985: The Marconi International Scientist Award, Marconi Foundation, USA.
1985: The Columbus Medal of the City of Genoa, Italy.
1987: The C & C Prize, Foundation for Communication and Computer Promotion, Japan.
1989: The Faraday Medal, Institution of Electrical Engineers, UK.
1989: The James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials, American Physical Society (APS)[25].
1992: The Gold Medal of the Society, SPIE [26].
1993: The Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
1995: The Gold Medal for Engineering Excellence, The World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), UK.
1996: The Prince Philip Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering; in recognition of "his pioneering work which led to the invention of optical fibre and for his leadership in its engineering and commercial realisation; and for his distinguished contribution to higher education in Hong Kong".
1996: The 12th Japan Prize; "for pioneering research on wide-band, low-loss optical fiber communications".
The 3463 Kaokuen, discovered in 1981, named after Kao in 1996.
1999: The Charles Stark Draper Prize (co-recipient with Robert D. Maurer and John B. MacChesney).
2006: The HKIE Gold Medal Award (HKIE: The Hong Kong Institute of Engineers).

2009 Nobel Prize in Physics (1/2 of the prize) "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication"

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