News | January 15, 2010

OFC/NFOEC 2010 To Be Dedicated To Nobel Laureate Charles Kao

The general and technical program co-chairs of the 2010 Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition and National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC) recently announced that this year's conference will be dedicated to Charles Kao, now retired from Standard Telecommunication Laboratories (STL) in the U.K. and Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kao won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for his "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication." He is known in the industry as the "Father of Fiber Optics" for determining a way to make light travel long distances over optical glass fiber, which today is the backbone for modern high-speed optical communications.

"Charles Kao sparked the optical fiber communications explosion," said Robert Jopson of Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent and one of this year's OFC/NFOEC technical program co-chairs. "Those of us in the industry were delighted to hear he won the Nobel Prize. It is a fitting tribute to dedicate the world's largest optical communications conference to the new Nobel laureate and ‘Father of Fiber Optics.' We have an exciting set of events planned to honor Dr. Kao."

Kao will be honored at the OFC/NFOEC Plenary and Awards Session on March 23 with a special address by Tingye Li, retired AT&T research scientist and lightwave communications pioneer. A special symposium on Kao's life and the influence of his work will be held March 24. The OFC/NFOEC Exhibit Hall will feature a video tribute to Kao in its Video Theater. The video is an interview with Kao in which he discusses how he and his staff at STL and ITT Corporation researched the potential use of optical fibers as a communications technology and the challenges they faced. The video will be shown daily at noon, March 23 – 25.

Kao received his Ph.D. in 1965 from University College London. Beginning in the early 1960s, he worked at STL in Harlow, England, where he performed his pioneering research on fiber optics. In 1966, with colleague George Hockman, Kao presented and published his results on studies of long-distance transmission of light over fiber optic cables. They showed that it should be possible to purify silica sufficiently to make signal transmission over glass fibers practical. The first ultrapure fiber was successfully fabricated by Corning, Inc. just four years later, in 1970. Today, fiber optic cables are the backbone of broadband communications – and, with amplification, a single fiber can carry optical signals between any two points on the globe.

Since 1979, the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC) has provided an annual backdrop for the optical communications field to network and share research and innovations. In 2004, OFC joined forces with the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (NFOEC), creating the largest and most comprehensive international event for optical communications. By combining an exposition of approximately 500 companies with a unique program of peer-reviewed technical programming and special focused educational sessions, OFC/NFOEC provides an unparalleled opportunity, reaching every audience from service providers to optical equipment manufacturers and beyond.

OFC/NFOEC, is managed by the Optical Society (OSA) and co-sponsored by OSA, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/Communications Society (IEEE/ComSoc) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Photonics Society. Acting as non-financial technical co-sponsor is Telcordia Technologies, Inc. For more information, visit,