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‘Father of Fiber Optics’ Narinder Singh Kapany Passes Away at 94

Narinder Singh Kapany

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    Narinder Singh Kapany, known as the “Father of Fiber Optics” for introducing the term in a 1960 Scientific American article, passed away in his Woodside, California home on Dec. 3 at 94.

    Born in Moga, Punjab-India on Oct. 31, 1926, Kapany lived in Dehradun and graduated from Agra University in 1948, according to The Sikh Foundation. He received his doctorate at Imperial College London in 1955 and migrated to the United States after marrying Satinder Kaur.

    He worked at Rochester University and later at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago before moving to Woodside, San Mateo County, where he founded his company Optics Technology Inc. in 1961.

    Kapany went public with his company in 1967 and created the Sikh Foundation that same year.

    From 1977 to 1983, he became Regents Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Kapany also established two endowed chairs at the university, mainly the Narinder Singh Kapany Chair in Optoelectronics in the Baskin School of Engineering in 1999 and the Narinder Kapany Professor in Entrepreneurship in 2012, according to UC Santa Cruz. In 1979, he also started the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurial Development (CIED) at the university.

    Besides UC Santa Cruz, Kapany also taught students at UC Berkeley and Stanford.

    Kapany achieved many things during his life, including earning over 120 patents, publishing four books and over 100 scientific papers, and receiving multiple awards and honors under his name.

    Some of his notable awards include The Excellence 2000 Award from the USA Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 1998, the Pravasi Bharati Award by the Indian government in 2008, an honorary doctorate by the Guru Nanak Dev University, the Fiat Lux Award by the University of California in 2008 and the Asia Game Changer West Award in 2019.

    As a philanthropist, Kapany donated his family’s collection of Sikh art to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and later funded the gallery to display the artwork in 1999.

    Before he passed away, Kapany spent most of his time writing his memoir, “The Man Who Bent Light,” which is set for release later this year.

    Featured Image via The Sikh Foundation International

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