OSA names Donald B. Keck as Honorary Member

Nov. 1, 2012
Washington, DC--The Optical Society (OSA) Board of Directors has elected Donald B. Keck as its newest Honorary Member, chosen for his “breakthrough contributions to the field of optical communications, including the invention of the first low-loss optical fiber, and for a history of service to OSA.”

Washington, DC--The Optical Society (OSA) Board of Directors has elected Donald B. Keck as its newest Honorary Member, chosen for his “breakthrough contributions to the field of optical communications, including the invention of the first low-loss optical fiber, and for a history of service to OSA.” Being named to the OSA’s most distinguished membership status, Keck joins a group of 44 Honorary Members elected since its founding in 1916.

Keck studied physics at Michigan State University (Lansing, MI), earning a bachelor’s in 1962, a master’s in 1964, and a Ph.D. in 1967. After completing his studies, Keck spent 34 years at Corning (Corning, NY), ultimately serving as the company's corporate VP of science and technology and the director of office of research. He was recruited by the company specifically to work on the issue of optical loss in glass.

At Corning, Keck, along with co-inventors Robert Maurer and Peter Schultz, developed the first low-loss optical fiber suitable for wide-spread use in telecommunications. Virtually all long-distance communications traffic today is carried over optical fiber, both on land and under the sea. More than 1.6 billion kilometers of optical fiber encircle the world, providing the heart of today’s telecommunication network. Keck co-invented the inside vapor (IV) deposition process and the outside vapor (OV) deposition process for making fiber. The OV process ultimately became the leading method for the manufacture of fibers. As the telecommunications field grew, so did Keck’s impact. He later invented technologies for fiber splitters and couplers.

Keck, who holds 36 U.S. patents, has been recognized through numerous prestigious awards, including the President’s National Medal of Technology, the U.S. Department of Commerce American Innovator Award, the OSA/IEEE John Tyndall Award, and membership in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Engineering. Keck is an OSA Fellow and has been an active member of the society since 1963, including serving on the OSA Board of Directors from 1996-1997 and as editor for the Journal of Lightwave Technology from 1989-1994. He received an honorary doctorate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY) in 2004 and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater in 1996.

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