SPIE Members Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

SPIE Fellow R. Rox Anderson and SPIE Member Ming-Jun Li are recognized for their technological advances
14 January 2020
By Karen Thomas

During "the Greatest Celebration of American Innovation" in May, the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) will induct 22 engineers and inventors who hold US patents for highly significant technology. Founded in 1973, the NIHF's mission is to "honor the people responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social, and economic progress possible."

Two SPIE members, R. Rox Anderson and Ming-Jun Li, will join an eclectic array of new inductees, which includes the inventors of ibuprofen, the hard hat, center-pivot irrigation, and the sports bra. Previous SPIE members inducted into the NIHF include Arthur Ashkin, Theodore Maiman, Charles H. Townes, Rebecca Richards-Kortum, and Kristina Johnson.

Ming-Jun LiLi is being recognized for inventing ClearCurve® optical fiber. In 2004, while experimenting with new types of optical fiber, Corning colleagues Li, Dana Bookbinder, and Pushkar Tandon developed this bend-insensitive optical fiber that can curve and turn without significant signal loss. Before the development of optical fiber, copper wire, which uses electrical current, was employed to transmit data over long distances. Optical fiber works by sending pulses of light and can transmit far more data than copper wire. The disadvantage for conventional optical fiber was that it couldn't transmit light around tight bends, so it required long, straight cables in order convey data without critical signal loss.

The fiber developed by Li and his colleagues had a core surrounded with a low refractive index "optical trench." Light beams could be reflected smoothly back into the core rather than being diffracted in the cladding at a sharp bend. ClearCurve® has reached previously inaccessible locations, advancing data transmission across a wide range of industries.

"I'm very honored to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame," says Li. "It's a great recognition not only for myself, but also for my colleagues whom I worked with at Corning. Developing Corning's ClearCurve® bend-insensitive fiber was a team effort and I'd like to thank them for their contributions."

A Corporate Fellow at Corning, Li holds more than 200 US patents and shares several awards for ClearCurve® optical fiber with Bookbinder and Tandon.

R. Rox AndersonThe NIHF is recognizing Anderson for his groundbreaking developments in laser dermatology treatments and procedures including permanent hair removal, acne treatment, and tattoo and birthmark removal.

"Research and innovation are full of surprises, and joining the National Inventors Hall of Fame is surely one of them," says Anderson. "Taking care of patients, I've had a front-row seat to nature's human drama, and my work is simply a persistent attempt to help people. Since the first attempt to solve a problem rarely works, little failures turn out to be a guide toward success, which in the end always requires teamwork and a bit of luck."

As a Harvard University medical student in 1980, while studying the scarring effects of argon laser treatment for port wine stains, he developed "selective photothermolysis," which uses pulses of light at specific wavelengths to target particular structures in the skin without damaging non-affected areas. With colleague Dieter Manstein, Anderson developed fractional photothermolysis, a procedure using microscopic laser beams to initiate a natural wound-healing response in raised scars without creating additional scarring. Anderson and Manstein also developed selective cryolipolysis -- known popularly as CoolSculpting -- a noninvasive alternative to liposuction, which uses cold to selectively remove excess body fat.

Anderson is a dermatology professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to his work with these organizations, he has established charitable medical treatment facilities in several countries.

The induction ceremony will take place during a two-day event in Washington, DC, 6 - 7 May.

Enjoy this article?
Get similar news in your inbox
Get more stories from SPIE
TAGS: Society News
Recent News