Narinder Singh Kapany

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Narinder Singh Kapany
Born 12 October 1926 (87)
Moga Punjab
Residence United States
Nationality ,American
Fields Physics
Institutions Agra University
Ordnance Factories Board
Imperial College of Science
British Royal Academy of Engineering[1]
Optical Society of America
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
Stanford University
Alma mater Agra University
Imperial College London
Known for pioneering work on Fiber optics
Notable awards Pravasi Bharatiya Samman
The Excellence 2000 Award
FREng[1] (1998)

Narinder Singh Kapany (Punjabi: ਨਰਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ) FREng[1] born 31 October 1926 to a Sikh family in Moga, Punjab, India, is an Indian-born American Sikh physicist known for his work in fibre optics.[2][3][4][5][6] He was named as one of the seven 'Unsung Heroes' by Fortune magazine in their 'Businessmen of the Century' issue (1999-11-22).[3][4][6] He is also known as "Father of Fiber Optics".[7] [8][9][10] He is a former IOFS officer.[11]

Early life[edit]

Narinder Singh was born in Punjab, India and educated in India. Kapany has lived in the United States for forty-five years. In 1952, this earlier work led Kapany to conduct studies that led to the invention of optical fibre. A graduate of Agra University, India, he completed advanced studies in optics, and PhD degree at Imperial College London in 1955. He served as an IOFS officer prior to moving to the UK.[12]

His father was younger brother of S. Gurcharan Singh Kapany, a great philanthropist of Ambala Cantt, and that's how his connection with Ambala Cantt where he spent many holidays.

His career has spanned science, entrepreneurship and management, academia, publishing, lecturing, and farming. His personal interests include philanthropy, art collecting, and sculpting.

Kapany is considered as one of the founders of fibre optics.[2][3][4][5] His research and inventions have encompassed fibre-optics communications, lasers, biomedical instrumentation, solar energy and pollution monitoring. He has over one hundred patents, and was a member of the National Inventors Council. He has received many awards including 'The Excellence 2000 Award' from the USA Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 1998. He is an International Fellow[1] of numerous scientific societies including the British Royal Academy of Engineering,[1] the Optical Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Kapany lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Satinder. His son, Rajinder, is a hi-tech executive; and his daughter, Kiren, is an attorney and filmmaker.

Businessman and entrepreneur[edit]

Optical fibres

As an entrepreneur and business executive, Kapany has specialised in the processes of innovation and the management of technology and technology transfer. In 1960, he founded Optics Technology Inc. and was chairman of the board, President, and Director of Research for twelve years. In 1967 the company went public with numerous corporate acquisitions and joint-ventures in the United States and abroad. In 1973, Kapany founded Kaptron Inc. and was President and CEO until 1990 when he sold the company to AMP Incorporated. For the next nine years, Kapany was an AMP Fellow, heading the Intrapreneur & Technical Expert Program and serving as Chief Technologist for Global Communications Business. He recently founded K2 Optronics. He has also served on the boards of various companies. He was a member of the Young presidents Organization and is presently a member of the World presidents Organization.

As an academic, Kapany has taught and supervised research activity of postgraduate students. He was a Regents Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), and at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). He was also Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED) at UCSC for seven years. At Stanford University, he was a Visiting Scholar in the Physics Department and Consulting Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Research scholar[edit]

As an author and lecturer, Kapany has published over 100 scientific papers and four books on opto-electronics and entrepreneurship. He has lectured to various national and international scientific societies. His popular article on Fibre optics in Scientific American in 1960 established the new term (Fibre optics); the article constitutes a reference point for the subject even today. In November 1999, Fortune magazine published profiles of seven people who have greatly influenced life in the twentieth century but are unsung heroes. Kapany was one of them.[6]


As a philanthropist, Kapany has been active in education and the arts. He has been the founding chairman and major funder of the Sikh Foundation and its activities for over 30 years.[13] In collaboration with international institutions and publishers, the Foundation runs programs in publishing, academia and the arts. In 1998, Kapany endowed a Chair of Sikh Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His gift in 1999 of $500,000 to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco will establish a gallery in its new building displaying the works he has donated from his collection of Sikh art. In 1999, he endowed a Chair of Opto-Electronics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also trustee of the University of California, Santa Cruz Foundation. He has served as a trustee of the Menlo School in Menlo Park, California.

As an art collector, Kapany has specialised in Sikh art. He provided paintings and other objects on loan for the internationally acclaimed 'Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms' exhibition, which was held at London's Victoria & Albert Museum beginning in March 1999; from there, the exhibition proceeded to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (with the Sikh Foundation as a sponsor) and opened in May 2000 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The exhibition follows 'Splendors of the Punjab: Sikh Art and Literature in 1992' organised by Kapany in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum and UC Berkeley to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sikh Foundation.

As an artist, Kapany has created 40 "dynoptic" sculptures which were first displayed in a one-man show at the Exploratorium of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1972. Since then, the collection has been viewed at museums and art galleries in Chicago, Monterey, Palo Alto, and Stanford.


  1. ^ a b c d e "List of Fellows". 
  2. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Honouring the Achievers. Retrieved on 6 April 2011.
  4. ^ a b c The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Business. Retrieved on 6 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b Biography of Great Sikh Personality Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany. Retrieved on 6 April 2011.
  6. ^ a b c How India missed another Nobel Prize – India News. (12 October 2009). Retrieved on 6 April 2011.
  7. ^ [2].
  8. ^ [3].
  9. ^ [4].
  10. ^ [5].
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ (18 March 2011). Retrieved on 6 April 2011.

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