5th December 2020   •   profile
Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany, the 'father of fibre-optics', passes away

by Barfi Culture Team | @barfi_culture.
Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany, commonly known as the 'father of fibre-optics' for his pioneering work in the field, passed away this week.

He was 94 years old.

Personal life

Narinder Singh was born in Moga, Panjab, and studied at Agra University before moving to Britain to study optics at the Imperial College London. It was there that he studied and wrote on transmitting images through optical fibre bundles.

In 1954 he married Satinder Kaur in London, and a year later they moved to the United States.

In the US he initially taught at the University of Rochester before moving to Palo Alto, CA. He became the first person of Indian origin to found a tech company, Optics Technology, in Silicon Valley in 1960.

He carried on teaching — at University of California (UC) Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and Stanford University — while going on to found more technology companies later in life.


Dr Kapany first coined the term "fiber optics" in an article in Scientific American in 1960 and wrote the first book on the new field.

His company, Optics Technology, further developed the technology that he had pioneered, until he sold it later in life. He went on to found Kaptron Inc and K2 Optronics while serving on the board of other companies.

Dr Kapany accumulated over 100 patents over his lifetime, a testament to his research into areas such as fibre optic communications, lasers, solar energy and pollution monitoring.


Dr Kapany also funded education and arts through the Sikh Foundation, which he created. In 1999 he gave $500,000 to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco to establish a Sikh arts gallery, named after his wife Satinder Kaur.

He donated historical and rare Sikh art works from his personal collection to various galleries across the US including the Sikh Heritage Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, DC.

The Sikh Foundation also sponsors a Punjabi language studies programme at Stanford University and the University of California.

Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany died on 4th December 2020.

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