Corning Inc. researchers inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame


CORNING, N.Y. (WETM) – Corning Inc. researchers Dana Bookbinder, Ming-Jun Li and Pushkar Tandon will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for inventing Bend-Insensitive Optical Fiber.

Bookbinder, Li, and Tandon invented the ClearCurve® optical fiber in 2004, allowing the fiber to bend without significant signal loss and allow it to reach locations previously inaccessible to optical fiber and advance data transmission across an array of industries.

Before optical fiber, copper wire was used to transmit phone calls and data over long distances. Copper uses electric current, while optical fiber sends pulses of light. Fiber is less vulnerable to electromagnetic interference and can transmit far more data. However, conventional optical fiber required long, straight cables to transmit data without significant signal loss, and it could not transmit light around tight bends.

The group discovered that certain types of optical fiber could transmit light around tight bends when they explored wrapping the material around a cylindrical rod. The light continued traveling through the fiber and out the other end. Eventually, the trio created a fiber that caused light beams to be reflected smoothly back into the core rather than diffracted in the cladding at a sharp bend. This new fiber had a core surrounded with a low refractive index “optical trench.” The fiber structure was optimized for both single-mode fiber and high-bandwidth multimode fibers that were fully standards-compliant for fiber-to-the-home and data center applications.

National Inventors Hall of Fame

The trio will be officially inducted on May 7 at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C

Ming-Jun Li

A native of China, Li earned his bachelor of science degree in applied physics at Beijing Institute of Technology, his master of science degree in optics and signal processing at the University of Franche-Comté and his doctorate in physics at the University of Nice. A Corning Corporate Fellow, Li joined the company in 1994. In a conversation with the National Inventors Hall of Fame®, Li praised the culture at Corning: “I think the innovation culture is really important. In Corning, everybody is encouraged to discover new things, to come up with new designs, new innovations.”

Li holds more than 200 U.S. patents and shares several awards for ClearCurve optical fiber with Bookbinder and Tandon.

Pushkar Tandon

Tandon, a Corning Development Fellow, shares multiple awards for ClearCurve optical fiber with Bookbinder and Li, including the 2017 ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award. A native of India, he received his bachelor of technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, and his doctorate from Yale University, both in chemical engineering. Tandon currently holds more than 135 U.S. patents.

Dana Bookbinder

Discussing the broad impact of bend-insensitive optical fiber in an interview with the National Inventors Hall of Fame®, Bookbinder said, “It’s exciting to work on things that matter to people, and the feeling of how much you’re helping someone.”

Bookbinder received his bachelor of science degree in organic chemistry from Northern Illinois University and his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bookbinder holds more than 200 U.S. patents and shares several distinguished awards for ClearCurve optical fiber with Li and Tandon. He retired from Corning in 2018 as a Corporate Fellow.

The Class of 2020 includes 14 living inductees and eight historical inductees for inventions such as Ibuprofen, the modern parachute, and the sports bra.

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