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Lightwave Pioneer Kaminow Passes

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Ivan P. Kaminow, a pioneer in photonic devices and developer of several key aspects of lightwave communication systems, died on Dec. 18. He was 83.

Born in Union City, N.J., and raised in Passaic, N.J., Kaminow attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., earned a master’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and received a Ph.D. from Harvard. As a Hughes Fellow at Hughes Aircraft Co. and UCLA, he did research on microwave antenna arrays before joining Bell Labs in 1954.

Kaminow spent 42 years at Bell Labs, where he made pioneering contributions to advance the field of optical fiber communications. He conducted 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 multifrequency 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 in 1996, Kaminow served as an IEEE Congressional Fellow on the staffs of the House Science Committee and the Congressional Research Service (Science Policy Research Div.) in the Library of Congress. From 1997 to 1999, he returned to Lucent Bell Labs as a part-time consultant. He also established Kaminow Lightwave Technology to provide consulting services to technology companies as well as patent and litigation law firms.

Having served as a visiting professor at Princeton, University of California, Berkeley, Columbia, the University of Tokyo, and Kwangju University in Korea, he became an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at UC Berkeley in 2004; he left the adjunct position in 2012 due to health reasons.

In 2010, he was awarded the IEEE Photonics Award “for seminal contributions to electro-optic modulation, integrated optics and semiconductor lasers, and leadership in optical telecommunications.” In 2013, Kaminow received 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 published more than 240 papers, received 47 patents and wrote or co-edited 10 books, including the Optical Fiber Telecommunication series, editions II (1988) through VI (2013). He received other numerous awards and honors during his career, including the Bell Labs Distinguished Member of Technical Staff Award; IEEE Quantum Electronics Award’ IEEE Third Millennium Medal; and Union College Alumni Gold Medal. 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, Fellow Emeritus of The Optical Society (OSA) and a Fellow of American Physical Society.

Kaminow is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Florence, three children and several grandchildren.

Friends and colleagues are invited to make a memorial donation to an OSA Foundation fund or endowment in Kaminow’s honor at , or to Union College at

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2014
optical fiber
A thin filament of drawn or extruded glass or plastic having a central core and a cladding of lower index material to promote total internal reflection (TIR). It may be used singly to transmit pulsed optical signals (communications fiber) or in bundles to transmit light or images.
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