Sir Charles Kuen Kao

Sir Charles Kuen Kao is a Chinese born Physicist who has spent most of his career in the UK and USA.  He won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for “groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication” and is widely known as the “Father of Fibre Optics” and more recently the “Godfather of Broadband”.

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Physicist PHYSICIST (Applied Physicist)
Charles Kao
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Honorary degrees

  • Honorary Doctor of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (1985)
  • Doctor of Science, The University of Sussex, UK (1990)
  • Doctor of Engineering, National Chiao Tung University, R.O.China (1990)
  • Degree of Honorary Doctor, Soka University, Japan (1991)
  • Doctor of Engineering, The University of Glasgow, UK (1992)
  • Honorary DCL, Durham University, UK (1994)
  • Doctor of the University, Griffith University, Australia (1995)
  • Honorary degree in ”Telecommunications engineering”, University of Padua, Italy (Oct 18, 1996)
  • Doctor of Science, The University of Hull, UK (1998)
  • Doctor of Science, Yale University, USA (1999)
  • Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, The University of Greenwich, UK (2002)
  • Doctor of Science, Princeton University, USA (2004)
  • Honorary doctor of laws degree, University of Toronto, Canada (June 16, 2005)
  • Honorary Doctor, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, P.R.China (2007)
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science, University College London, UK (2010)
  • Honorary Degree, University of Strathclyde, UK (Sep 24, 2010)
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, P.R.China (Mar 2011)


  • 1976: The Morey Award, American Ceramic Society, USA.
  • 1977: The Stewart Ballantine Medal, Franklin Institute, USA.
  • 1978: The Rank Prize, Rank Trust Fund, UK.
  • 1978: The IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award. Citation: ”for making communication at optical frequencies practical by discovering, inventing, and developing the material, techniques and configurations for glass fiber waveguides and, in particular, for recognizing and proving by careful measurements in bulk glasses that silicon glass could provide the requisite low optical loss needed for a practical communication system”.
  • 1979: The L. M. Ericsson International Prize, Sweden.
  • 1980: The Gold Medal, AFCEA, USA.
  • 1981: The CESASC Achievement Award, Southern California, USA.
  • 1983: USAI Achievement Award, U.S.-Asia Institute, USA.
  • 1985: The IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal.
  • 1985: The Marconi International Scientist Award, Marconi Foundation, USA.
  • 1985: The Columbus Medal of the City of Genoa, Italy.
  • 1986: The CIE Achievement Award of the CIE-USA Annual Awards, USA.
  • 1987: The C & C Prize, Foundation for Communication and Computer Promotion, Japan.
  • 1989: The Faraday Medal, Institution of Electrical Engineers, UK.
  • 1989: The James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials, American Physical Society (APS). Citation: ”for contribution to the materials research and development that resulted in practical low loss optical fibers, one of the cornerstones of optical communications technology”.
  • 1992: The Gold Medal of the Society, SPIE.
  • 1995: The Gold Medal for Engineering Excellence, The World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), UK.
  • 1996: The Prince Philip Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK; in recognition of ”his pioneering work which led to the invention of optical fibre and for his leadership in its engineering and commercial realisation; and for his distinguished contribution to higher education in Hong Kong”.
  • 1996: la Citta’ di Padova, Italy.
  • 1996: The 12th Japan Prize. Citation: ”for pioneering research on wide-band, low-loss optical fiber communications”.
  • 1998: The International Lecture Medal, IEE, UK.
  • 1999: The Charles Stark Draper Prize (co-recipient with Robert D. Maurer and John B. MacChesney), USA.
  • 2001: Millennium Outstanding Engineer Award, Hong Kong.
  • 2006: The HKIE Gold Medal Award, HKIE (The Hong Kong Institute of Engineers), Hong Kong.
  • 2009: The Nobel Prize in Physics (1/2 of the prize), Sweden. Citation: ”for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication”.
  • 2009: The IEEE Photonics Society Plaque.
  • 2010 (Feb 27): Distinguished Science & Technology Award, 2010 Asian American Engineer of the Year Award, AAEOY 2010, USA.
  • 2010 (Mar 27): 2009/2010 World Chinese Grand Prize, Phoenix Television, Hong Kong.
  • 2010 (April 8/9): Chinese American Distinction Award, San Francisco, USA.
  • 2010 (July 1): Grand Bauhinia Medal, Hong Kong SAR.

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