Fellows Highlight - Charles Kuen Kao Awarded Knighthood

June 17, 2010

Original article posted on October 17, 2010 – IET Knowledge Network.

Charles Kao, a Fellow of the IET, who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics for his invention of fibre optics, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Knighthood for Nobel Prize-winning IET Fellow

Sir Charles Kuen KaoAnnounced this month, Charles Kao’s knighthood comes as the fiftieth anniversary of the first working laser is being celebrated. Fibre-optics and laser technology are key components of optical communications.

Kao’s achievements will be celebrated today (16 June) at an event at the Royal Academy of Engineering. The event also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first working laser. The importance of these events is recognised by the IET which is sponsoring these celebrations. The event will be attended by leading experts and VIPs, including IET chief executive Nigel Fine.

Kao was awarded the Nobel Prize for his invention of fibre optic communications, which now unites the whole world. His invention led to the development of technology networks that carry voice, video and high-speed internet data around the world through calculating how to transmit light over long distances via optical glass fibres. With a fibre of purest glass it is now possible to transmit light signals over 100 kilometres, compared to only 20 metres for the fibres available in the mid 1960s.

Kao's groundbreaking work on optical fibres was published by the Institution of Electrical Engineering in 1966 and he was awarded the Faraday Medal in 1989.