Nobel Prize winners Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences today has announced the winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics for 2009. The split prize was half awarded to Charles K. Kao for "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication," and the other half awarded jointly to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for "the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit - the CCD sensor."
The CCD (Charge-Coupled Device), invented by Boyle and Smith in 1969, has led to the explosive popularity of digital photography. Based on Einstein's theory of the photoelectric effect - for which he won the Nobel prize in 1921 - the CCD captures light and turns it into an electric signal. The key was to be able to read and use the signal fast enough.
Through the development and refinement of the CCD, you now have a camera that can show you instant results; a camera in your cell phone; a camera that can take pictures from inside your body; even video cameras that can bring you images from the opposite side of the globe (and indeed, even farther than that). For their hard work, bth Boyle and Smith will grab a quarter of the $1.4 million prize.
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