Over forty years ago, Corning scientists Drs. Robert Maurer, Peter Schultz, and Donald Keck were brought together to develop a highly pure optical glass that could effectively transmit light signals over long distances – a feat that had never before been achieved. Little did they know they would revolutionise the global telecommunications industry.
In the mid-1960s, it became clear to the researchers at Corning and to the larger telecommunications industry that the existing copper wire infrastructure used to transfer data and voice would not have enough bandwidth for the projected traffic of the future. The race to find a solution was on.
During this time period, members of the British Post Office came to our company seeking assistance in creating pure glass fibre optics. Their design required a single-mode fibre (100 micron diameter with a 0.75 micron core) having a total attenuation of about 20 dB/km. The very best bulk optical glasses of the day had attenuations of around 1,000 dB/km. This meant Maurer, Schultz, and Keck had to see an improvement in transparency of 1,098 in order to reach the 20 dB/km goal. It seemed impossible, but they did it, and their technological breakthrough forever changed the world.
Today, optical fibre continues to enable the world of connectivity in which we live. Services delivered over broadband have become a critical component of daily life, with access, speed, and reliable connectivity as features we all expect. Our revolutionary discovery and our ongoing optical fibre product innovations make this all possible.
In 2000, Drs. Maurer, Schultz, and Keck were awarded the National Medal of Technology for their life-changing innovation. This is the highest honor granted by the President of the United States to America’s leading inventors and innovators that have made lasting contributions to enhancing America’s competiveness and standard of living. Corning scientists have received this prestigious award four times, an example of our dedication to innovation and discovery.