Kao, Charles Kuen

b. 4 November 1933 Shanghai, China
Chinese electrical engineer whose work on optical fibres did much to make optical communications a practical reality.
After the Second World War, Kao moved with his family to Hong Kong, where he went to St Joseph's College. To further his education he then moved to England, taking his "A" Levels at Woolwich Polytechnic. In 1957 he gained a BSc in electrical engineering and then joined Standard Telephones and Cables Laboratory (STL) at Harlow. Following the discovery by others in 1960 of the semiconductor laser, from 1963 Kao worked on the problems of optical communications, in particular that of achieving attenuation in optical cables low enough to make this potentially very high channel capacity form of communication a practical proposition; this problem was solved by suitable cladding of the fibres. In the process he obtained his PhD from University College, London, in 1965. From 1970 until 1974, whilst on leave from STL, he was Professor of Electronics and Department Chairman at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, then in 1982–7 he was Chief Scientist and Director of Engineering with the parent company ITT in the USA. Since 1988 he has been Vice-Chancellor of Hong Kong University.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Franklin Institute Stuart Ballantine Medal 1977. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Morris N.Liebmann Memorial Prize 1978; L.M.Ericsson Prize 1979. Institution of Electrical Engineers A.G.Bell Medal 1985; Faraday Medal 1989. American Physical Society International Prize for New Materials 1989.
1966, with G.A.Hockham, "Dielectric fibre surface waveguides for optical frequencies", Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers 113:1,151 (describes the major step in optical-fibre development).
1982, Optical Fibre Systems. Technology, Design \& Application, New York: McGraw- Hill.
1988, Optical Fibre, London: Peter Peregrinus.
Further Reading
W.B.Jones, 1988, Introduction to Optical Fibre Communications : R\&W Holt.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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