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CCD Inventors Earn Nobel Prize
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posted on Oct 6, 2009 at 5:35PM

CCD Inventors Earn Nobel Prize

By Emily Raymond
  • Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Awarded to CCD Inventors
  • CCD used in digital cameras

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the two inventors behind the CCD, which laid the foundation for digital photography. Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith developed the CCD in 1969.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the winners today at a press conference and will present them with their million-dollar prize (SEK $5 million) in December.

“[Boyle and Smith] have created many practical innovations for everyday life and provided new tools for scientific exploration,” stated the Oct. 6 press release issued by the Academy. The CCD is used not only in digital cameras, but in medical imaging devices and satellites, among other applications.

The charge-coupled device transforms light into electric signals, which are then gathered and decoded to form images digitally. The idea for an imaging semiconductor circuit came to Boyle and Smith while chatting at Bell Laboratories, where they worked together.

“We had a habit of batting things back and forth,” Smith said in a telephone interview with Nobel Prize officials shortly after his win was announced. “And, you know, things just happened to get together.


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