Charles K. Kao


This electrical engineer was awarded half the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009 "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication.” The prize was shared with Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for their work on Charged Coupled Devices (CCDs). Charles Kao used ray optics and waveguide theory to better understand how microwaves and optical waves propagate in circular waveguides. With the discovery of the laser in 1960, he began to consider how the laser could be used for optical communications, and in the process developed optical fibers as waveguides in 1966.