Kam-Yin Lau (BS '78, MS '78, PhD '81), professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley, is honored for his innovations in and commercialization of laser diode and radio-over-fiber technologies that broadly enable today's wireline and wireless high-speed internet access as well as enabling progress in interplanetary exploration, radio astronomy, and particle physics research, and for his remarkable artistic contributions to the Chinese ink painting movement.
His contributions to high-speed laser diodes and radio-over-fiber technologies have had direct applications for both multi-hundreds Gbps optical-fiber systems that serve as the backbone of the internet and for Gbps cables that have helped provide internet and cable access to billions of homes and businesses worldwide. Furthermore, his radio-over-fiber technologies have enabled ubiquitous high-speed wireless internet access and connectivity across urban environments, including inside buildings, tunnels, and underground structures. Lau's radio-over-fiber technologies allow for ultraprecise time and frequency transfer over 50 kilometers, which is required for scientific endeavors in radio astronomy, interplanetary exploration, and particle physics experiments. His high-speed laser diodes were critical components in the ultrafast remote transient data acquisition system deployed at the Nevada Test Site for underground nuclear tests during the 1980s, generating data vital for the development and maintenance of the United States' strategic deterrence.
A prodigious artist, Lau was part of the avant-garde of the modern Chinese ink painting revolution during the 1970s. His paintings have been shown, displayed in professional exhibitions in Hong Kong, and four of his paintings are currently in the permanent collections of two museums.
In the realm of business, he has co-founded with his colleagues and students three companies to commercialize radio-over-fiber systems and applications. Acquired by industrial giants, these companies continue to be dominant suppliers in today's high-speed internet access infrastructures industry.