Dr. Thomas Mensah is a renowned innovator of fibre optics technologies with dozens of patents under his name. The most notable ones being for innovations in the fibre optics manufacturing and communication systems.
Early Life and Education
Dr. Thomas Mensah was born in Kumasi, Ghana where he attained his early education from Adisadel College. He exhibited an affluence for math and science which led him to eventually join the University of Science and Technology Kumasi in Ghana for engineering. He graduated in 1974 with an honours degree.
Around the same time that he completed his honours degree, the French government offered him a fellowship where he qualified for a scholarship to study chemical engineering at the University of Science and Technology in France, eventually graduating with a Ph.D. He pursued this degree alongside a concurrent program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Thomas Mensah spent most of his early career at Corning in the United States where he worked as a research engineer. While working as a researcher at Air Products and Chemicals of Allentown, he also helped increase the overall efficiency of the factory’s manufacturing processes.
In New York, Dr. Mensah joined the Corning Glass Works, which was and still is the world’s leading innovator in materials science. Here, he worked as an engineer and his main achievement was the identification of the problems that caused glass fibre optic wires to break easily. He discovered that trapped air increased the fragility of glass fibres, which also caused a great deal of latency in the transmission of data through the fibre.
Contribution to Fibre Optic Production at Corning
Through Dr. Mensah’s research, the production of fibre optic wire was improved by injecting carbon dioxide near the boundary layer to eliminate the problems caused by trapped air bubbles. This increased the durability and efficiency of the fibre optic wire significantly.
Contribution to Guidance System at Bell Labs
Using fibre optics, Dr. Mensah created a guidance system for missiles during his career at AT&T Bell Laboratories. The system comprised of a small fibre optic camera installed in the missile’s nose which worked at incredibly high speeds without compromising the accuracy of images.
Today, Dr. Mensah is celebrated as one of the greatest Ghanaian/African-American inventors in history. His contributions in the development of fibre optics and nanotechnology are unmatched and he is also a member of the US National Academy of Inventors.