Tingye Li was born in 1931 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and his Ph. D. from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. Shortly after graduation in 1957, Li joined AT&T- Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey where he worked with Gardner Fox on laser resonator modes. Their work has been fundamental to the theory and practice of lasers.
Li was a pioneer in lightwave system research and was credited with revolutionizing lightwave communications by advocating and leading the research on amplified wavelength-division-multiplexed transmission systems at AT&T. He retired from AT&T in 1998, as a division manager in the Communications Infrastructure Research Laboratory, and then worked as an independent consultant in lightwave technologies and systems.
Li was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Academia Sinica (Taiwan) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He was an IEEE Life Fellow and an OSA fellow. Li received the IEEE Edison Medal, the IEEE David Sarnoff Award, the IEEE W.R.G. Baker Prize Paper Award and the OSA/IEEE John Tyndall Award.
Tingye Li died on 27 December 2012.