C. Kumar N. Patel
Born (1938-07-02) 2 July 1938 (age 85)
Alma materCollege of Engineering, Pune (B.E.)
Stanford University (M.S.)
Stanford University (PhD)
AwardsStuart Ballantine Medal (1968)
IEEE Medal of Honor (1989)
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical engineering
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Los Angeles

Chandra Kumar Naranbhai Patel (born 2 July 1938) is an electrical engineer. He developed the carbon dioxide laser in 1963;[1] it is now widely used in industry for cutting and engraving a wide range of materials like plastic and wood. Because the atmosphere is quite transparent to infrared light, CO2 lasers are also used for military rangefinding using LIDAR techniques.

Patel was born in Baramati, India, and received a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) degree from the Government College of Engineering, the University of Pune, India and the M.S. and PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1959 and 1961, respectively.[2] Patel joined Bell Laboratories in 1961, and subsequently became Executive Director of the Research, Materials Science, Engineering and Academic Affairs Division at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he developed the carbon dioxide laser. Patel's discovery, in 1963, of the laser action on the rotational–vibrational transitions of carbon dioxide and his discovery, in 1964, of efficient vibrational energy transfer between molecules, led to a series of experiments which demonstrated that the carbon dioxide laser was capable of very high continuous-wave and pulsed power output at very high conversion efficiencies.

From 1993–1999, Patel served as vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is also professor of physics and adjunct professor of electrical engineering.[3]

Patel discussing his career and his invention of the carbon dioxide laser.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded Patel the National Medal of Science, "[f]or his fundamental contributions to quantum electronics and invention of the carbon dioxide laser, which have had significant impact on industrial, scientific, medical, and defense applications."[4] In addition to the carbon dioxide laser, he also developed the "spin-flip" infrared Raman laser.[5]

Patel currently holds 36 U.S. patents relating to lasers and laser applications. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[6] the American Association for the Advancement of Science,[7] the American Physical Society, the IEEE, the Optical Society of America,[8] the Laser Institute of America,[9] the American Society of Laser Medicine and a Senior Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology.[10]

In 2018 C. Kumar N. Patel became an Honorary Member of the American Laser Study Club[11] which a year later named an award in his honor.[12]

Awards and honors


  1. ^ Patel, C. K. N. (1964). "Continuous-Wave Laser Action on Vibrational-Rotational Transitions of CO2". Physical Review. 136 (5A): A1187–A1193. Bibcode:1964PhRv..136.1187P. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.136.A1187.
  2. ^ "C. Kumar N. Patel". The American Institute of Physics. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  3. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details". The National Science Foundation. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  4. ^ "C. Kumar N. Patel". Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  5. ^ "MIT Inventor of the Week: Kumar Patel". The Lemelson-MIT Program. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  6. ^ "UCLA Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences". UCLA. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  7. ^ "AAAS Fellows" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  8. ^ "C. Kumar N. Patel". The Optical Society. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Fellow Award". Laser Institute of America. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  10. ^ "C. Kumar N. Patel". CCST. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  11. ^ "American Laser Study Club Names C. Kumar N. Patel as Honorary Member". India West. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Kumar Patel Prize". American Laser Study Club. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Laser Scientist, Patel, Gets Ballantine Medal". Physics Today. 21 (111): 119. 1968. doi:10.1063/1.3034571.
  14. ^ "IEEE Medal of Honor Revcipients" (PDF). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  15. ^ "National Medal of Science". National Science and Technology Medals Foundation. Retrieved 12 March 2022.