Charles K. Kao


Charles Kuen Kao

© The Nobel Foundation. Photo: U. Montan

Charles Kuen Kao
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2009

Born: 4 November 1933, Shanghai, China

Died: 23 September 2018, Hong Kong, N/A

Affiliation at the time of the award: Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow, United Kingdom; Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Prize motivation: “for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication”

Prize share: 1/2


The rapid transmission of signals over long distances is fundamental to the flow of information in our time. Since the 1930s thin filaments, or fibers, of glass have been used to see inside the body, but these long remained unusable for long-distance information transfer because too much light was lost along the way. In the 1960s Charles Kao presented a solution: fibers of very pure glass transported sufficient light. Together with laser technology, his solution has made telecommunication using optical fibers possible.

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