Willard Boyle and George Smith received the Nobel prize for their part in the invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD), the light detector used in digital cameras. The invention goes back to 1969. They used a metal oxide semiconductor to convert photons into a flow of electrons.
Smith and Boyle have already received the C&C prize for their invention in 1999. A press release from Bell Labs describes the CCD:
|“The device they invented stores information, represented by discrete packets of electric charge, in columns of closely spaced semiconductor capacitors. With multiple columns side by side, a CCD chip can record images. Reading out the information – for processing, display, or more permanent storage – is accomplished by shifting stored charges down the columns, one position at a time. The CCD’s sensitivity to light, coupled to this method of storing and reading out information, makes it a versatile and robust optical detector.
By 1970, the Bell Labs researchers had built the CCD into the world’s first solid-state video camera. In 1975, they demonstrated the first CCD camera with image quality sharp enough for broadcast television.
source: Bell Labs, September, 1999
The Nobel Lectures in Physics will be held on Tuesday, 8 December 2009, at the Aula Magna, Stockholm University and the lectures will be published at http://nobelprize.org/
Unfortunately, I could not find the the original 1970 paper online:
W.S. Boyle and G.E. Smith. “Charge Coupled Semiconducting Devices” Bell Sys. Tech. J. 49 (April, 1970). p.387-595
[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Oct 06, 2009 ]