Robert D. Maurer
Born Jul 20 1924
Fused Silica Optical Waveguide; Method of Producing Optical Waveguide Fibers
Patent Number(s) 3,659,915; 3,711,262
Corning Glass researchers Robert Maurer, Donald Keck, and Peter Schultz made optical fiber, capable of carrying 65,000 times more information than conventional copper wire, a practical reality.
In 1970 Maurer, Keck, and Schultz designed and produced the first optical fiber with optical losses low enough for wide use in telecommunications. Previously, the limiting factor was the amount of light lost during transmission. The key was restricting light loss to 20 decibels per kilometer (at least one percent of the light entering a fiber remains after traveling one kilometer). Scientists around the world had worked on the problem for years to no avail.
Optical fiber is the foundation for the global, multimedia telecommunications network of tomorrow. More than 90 percent of the U.S. long-distance traffic is already carried over optical fiber; more than 800 million kilometers has been installed, virtually all of it using the original design of Maurer, Keck and Schultz.
The discovery by the group at Corning was quickly recognized as a breakthrough, paving the way for the commercialization of optical fiber and literally creating a revolution in telecommunications.
Maurer was born in St. Louis. He earned a B.S. from the University of Arkansas in 1948 and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1951. He joined the Corning Glass Works in 1952 and retired in 1989 as a research fellow.