The invention of Optical Fibre Communications at STL in 1966

Sir Charles K.Kao
2009 Nobel Prize in PhysicsStandard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow Essex, UK

Nobel Prize announcement:
"for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication"
The Masters of Light
The Scientific background
Gwen Kao's acceptance speech on behalf of Charles
December 8th, 2009, at Stockholm University

Charles pioneered the use of a single mode dielectric (glass) optical fibre waveguide for long distance communications, at a time when the losses of the best available glasses made the idea seem impossible.  It was in competition with the technology of Long-haul Microwave Waveguide, which was being developed as several laboratories around the world. 

What if optical fibre had not happened?
The image below was used at the time to emphasise the considerable mechanical advantages of a glass optical fibre, over the larger rigid and expensive longhaul microwave waveguide solution.

Comparison between hair-thin glass optical fibre and Longhaul Microwave Waveguide

A History of Communicating with Light
From a Wave of a hand to the World Wide Web
- by Richard Epworth

2009 Nobel Prize in Physics is shared (50/25/25%) with William Boyle & George Smith
"for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor"

on Charles' visit to STL in 2002 

Plaque Unveiled
in Harlow water gardens

March 25th 2011


Plaque Unveiled
in Harlow College

March 21st 2012

Click for larger image