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Ivan P. Kaminow

Photo of Ivan P. Kaminow

Charles H. Townes with Ivan P. Kaminow

Ivan Paul Kaminow was an OSA Fellow Emeritus whose contributions to lightwave technology revolutionized telecommunications.

Kaminow was born in New Jersey and attended Passaic High School.  He received degrees from Union College (BSEE, 1952), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) (MSE, 1954) and Harvard University. (AM, Ph.D., 1957, 1960).  As a Hughes Fellow at Hughes Aircraft Co. and UCLA (1952-1954) he did research on microwave antenna arrays.  He joined Bell Labs in 1954 and served as a Bell Labs Fellow at Harvard from1956-1960. 

Kaminow had a 42-year career at Bell Labs (1954-1996), where he developed several key aspects of lightwave communication systems. He did seminal studies on electro optic modulators and materials, Raman scattering in ferroelectrics, integrated optics (including titanium-diffused lithium niobate modulators), semiconductor lasers (including the distributed Bragg reflector laser, ridge waveguide, and multi-frequency lasers), birefringent optical fibers, and wave division multiplexing (WDM) lightwave networks. Later, as head of the Photonic Networks and Components Research Department, Kaminow led research on WDM components, including the erbium-doped fiber amplifier, arrayed waveguide grating router and the fiber Fabry-Perot resonator, and on WDM local and wide area networks.

After retiring from Bell Labs, Kaminow served as an IEEE Congressional Fellow on the staffs of the House Science Committee and the Congressional Research Service (Science Policy Research Division) in the Library of Congress. From 1997 to 1999, he returned to Lucent Bell Labs as a part-time consultant, and he served as senior science advisor to OSA in 1999.  He also established Kaminow Lightwave Technology to provide consulting services to technology companies, as well as patent and litigation law firms.
Beginning in 2004, Kaminow served as an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.  Previously, he had been a visiting professor at Princeton, UC Berkeley, Columbia, the University of Tokyo, and Kwangju University (Korea).

An OSA member for 48 years, Kaminow was elected an OSA Fellow in 1975.  He received OSA’s Charles Hard Townes Award in 1995 and the OSA/IEEE Photonics Society John Tyndall Award in 1997.  In 2011, he was the recipient of the OSA Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Endowment “for pioneering research in high-speed modulators, ridge waveguide lasers and wavelength-division-multiplexed optical networks, and each has had a profound impact on modern communication systems.”  Kaminow received numerous other awards and honors during his career, including the Bell Labs Distinguished Member of Technical Staff Award, IEEE Quantum Electronics Award, IEEE Third Millennium Medal, Union College Alumni Gold Medal, and IEEE Photonics Award.  In 2013 he was awarded the IEEE Edison Medal “for pioneering, life-long contributions to and leadership in photonic devices and networks instrumental to global high-capacity optical networks.”  Kaminow was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Diplomate of the American Board of Laser Surgery, a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, a Life Fellow of IEEE, and a Fellow of APS.

Kaminow published over 240 papers, received 47 patents, and wrote or co-edited ten books. His most well-known books are Introduction to Electrooptical Devices and the Optical Fiber Telecommunication Series, editions II (1988) through VI (2013).

Ivan Paul Kaminow died on 18 December 2013, please see Optica's memorial entry.

Document Created: 26 Jul 2023
Last Updated: 28 Aug 2023

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