Charles K. Kao

Hong Kong-British-American Physicist

Charles K. Kao was born in Shanghai, China on November 4th, 1933 and is the Hong Kong-British-American Physicist. At the age of 84, Charles K. Kao biography, profession, age, height, weight, eye color, hair color, build, measurements, education, career, dating/affair, family, news updates, and networth are available.

Date of Birth
November 4, 1933
United States, United Kingdom
Place of Birth
Shanghai, China
Death Date
Sep 23, 2018 (age 84)
Zodiac Sign
Academic, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Inventor, Physicist
Charles K. Kao Height, Weight, Eye Color and Hair Color

At 84 years old, Charles K. Kao physical status not available right now. We will update Charles K. Kao's height, weight, eye color, hair color, build, and measurements.

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Hair Color
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Charles K. Kao Religion, Education, and Hobbies
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University College London (PhD 1965, issued by University of London), Woolwich Polytechnic (BSc 1957 issued by University of London[citation needed])
Charles K. Kao Spouse(s), Children, Affair, Parents, and Family
Gwen May-Wan Kao ​(m. 1959)​
Dating / Affair
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Charles K. Kao Career

In the 1960s at Standard Telecommunication Laboratories (STL) based in Harlow, Essex, England, Kao and his coworkers did their pioneering work in creating fiber optics as a telecommunications medium, by demonstrating that the high-loss of existing fiber optics arose from impurities in the glass, rather than from an underlying problem with the technology itself.

In 1963, when Kao first joined the optical communications research team he made notes summarising the background situation and available technology at the time, and identifying the key individuals involved. Initially Kao worked in the team of Antoni E. Karbowiak (Toni Karbowiak), who was working under Alec Reeves to study optical waveguides for communications. Kao's task was to investigate fiber attenuation, for which he collected samples from different fiber manufacturers and also investigated the properties of bulk glasses carefully. Kao's study primarily convinced him that the impurities in material caused the high light losses of those fibers. Later that year, Kao was appointed head of the electro-optics research group at STL. He took over the optical communication program of STL in December 1964, because his supervisor, Karbowiak, left to take the Chair in Communications in the School of Electrical Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia.

Although Kao succeeded Karbowiak as manager of optical communications research, he immediately decided to abandon Karbowiak's plan (thin-film waveguide) and overall change research direction with his colleague George Hockham. They not only considered optical physics but also the material properties. The results were first presented by Kao to the IEE in January 1966 in London, and further published in July with George Hockham (1964–1965 worked with Kao). This study first theorized and proposed to use glass fibers to implement optical communication, the ideas (especially structural features and materials) described are largely the basis of today's optical fiber communications.

In 1965, Kao with Hockham concluded that the fundamental limitation for glass light attenuation is below 20 dB/km (decibels per kilometer, is a measure of the attenuation of a signal over a distance), which is a key threshold value for optical communications. However, at the time of this determination, optical fibers commonly exhibited light loss as high as 1,000 dB/km and even more. This conclusion opened the intense race to find low-loss materials and suitable fibres for reaching such criteria.

Kao, together with his new team (members including T. W. Davies, M. W. Jones, and C. R. Wright), pursued this goal by testing various materials. They precisely measured the attenuation of light with different wavelengths in glasses and other materials. During this period, Kao pointed out that the high purity of fused silica (SiO2) made it an ideal candidate for optical communication. Kao also stated that the impurity of glass material is the main cause for the dramatic decay of light transmission inside glass fiber, rather than fundamental physical effects such as scattering as many physicists thought at that time, and such impurity could be removed. This led to a worldwide study and production of high-purity glass fibers. When Kao first proposed that such glass fiber could be used for long-distance information transfer and could replace copper wires which were used for telecommunication during that era, his ideas were widely disbelieved; later people realized that Kao's ideas revolutionized the whole communication technology and industry.

He also played a leading role in the early stage of engineering and commercial realization of optical communication. In spring 1966, Kao traveled to the U.S. but failed to interest Bell Labs, which was a competitor of STL in communication technology at that time. He subsequently traveled to Japan and gained support. Kao visited many glass and polymer factories, discussed with various people including engineers, scientists, businessmen about the techniques and improvement of glass fiber manufacture. In 1969, Kao with M. W. Jones measured the intrinsic loss of bulk-fused silica at 4 dB/km, which is the first evidence of ultra-transparent glass. Bell Labs started considering fiber optics seriously. As of 2017, fiber optic losses (from both bulk and intrinsic sources) are as low as 0.1419 dB/km at the 1.56 µm wavelength.

Kao developed important techniques and configurations for glass fiber waveguides, and contributed to the development of different fiber types and system devices which met both civil and military application requirements, and peripheral supporting systems for optical fiber communication. In mid-1970s, he did seminal work on glass fiber fatigue strength. When named the first ITT Executive Scientist, Kao launched the "Terabit Technology" program in addressing the high frequency limits of signal processing, so Kao is also known as the "father of the terabit technology concept". Kao has published more than 100 papers and was granted over 30 patents, including the water-resistant high-strength fibers (with M. S. Maklad).

At an early stage of developing optic fibers, Kao already strongly preferred single-mode for long-distance optical communication, instead of using multi-mode systems. His vision later was followed and now is applied almost exclusively. Kao was also a visionary of modern submarine communications cables and largely promoted this idea. He predicted in 1983 that world's seas would be littered with fiber optics, five years ahead of the time that such a trans-oceanic fiber-optic cable first became serviceable.

Ali Javan's introduction of a steady helium–neon laser and Kao's discovery of fiber light-loss properties now are recognized as the two essential milestones for the development of fiber-optic communications.

Kao joined the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 1970 to found the Department of Electronics, which later became the Department of Electronic Engineering. During this period, Kao was the reader and then the chair Professor of Electronics at CUHK; he built up both undergraduate and graduate study programs of electronics and oversaw the graduation of his first students. Under his leadership, the School of Education and other new research institutes were established. He returned to ITT Corporation in 1974 (the parent corporation of STC at that time) in the United States and worked in Roanoke, Virginia, first as Chief Scientist and later as Director of Engineering. In 1982, he became the first ITT Executive Scientist and was stationed mainly at the Advanced Technology Center in Connecticut. While there, he served as an adjunct professor and Fellow of Trumbull College at Yale University. In 1985, Kao spent one year in West Germany, at the SEL Research Center. In 1986, Kao was the Corporate Director of Research at ITT.

He was one of the earliest to study the environmental effects of land reclamation in Hong Kong, and presented one of his first related studies at the conference of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) in Edinburgh in 1972.

Kao was the vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1987 to 1996. From 1991, Kao was an Independent Non-Executive Director and a member of the Audit Committee of the Varitronix International Limited in Hong Kong. From 1993 to 1994, he was the President of the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning (ASAIHL). In 1996, Kao donated to Yale University, and the Charles Kao Fund Research Grants was established to support Yale's studies, research and creative projects in Asia. The fund currently is managed by Yale University Councils on East Asian and Southeast Asian Studies. After his retirement from CUHK in 1996, Kao spent his six-month sabbatical leave at the Imperial College London Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering; from 1997 to 2002, he also served as visiting professor in the same department.

Kao was chairman and member of the Energy Advisory Committee (EAC) of Hong Kong for two years, and retired from the position on July 15, 2000. Kao was a Member of the Council of Advisors on Innovation and Technology of Hong Kong, appointed on April 20, 2000. In 2000, Kao co-founded the Independent Schools Foundation Academy, which is located in Cyberport, Hong Kong. He was its founding Chairman in 2000, and stepped down from the Board of the ISF in December 2008. Kao was the keynote speaker at IEEE GLOBECOM 2002 in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2003, Kao was named a Chair Professor by special appointment at the Electronics Institute of the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, National Taiwan University. Kao then worked as the chairman and CEO of Transtech Services Ltd., a telecommunication consultancy in Hong Kong. He was the founder, chairman and CEO of ITX Services Limited. From 2003 to January 30, 2009, Kao was an independent non-executive director and member of the audit committee of Next Media.