Discovery and Invention
Forty Years of Fiber
Future of Fiber

Maurer, Keck, Schultz

COF_mks.jpgOver forty years ago, Corning scientists Dr. Robert Maurer, Dr. Peter Schultz, and Dr. 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 revolutionize 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. The race to find a solution was on. 

During this time period, members of the British Post Office came to Corning seeking assistance in creating pure glass fiber optics. Their design required a single-mode fiber (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 fiber 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 all features that we expect. Corning’s revolutionary discovery and our ongoing optical fiber product innovations make it possible.

In 2000, 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, which is a remarkable accomplishment.

Read a profile on Dr. Don Keck.