© 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
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.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.