Willard S. Boyle
Born: 19 August 1924, Amherst, NS, Canada
Died: 7 May 2011, Truro, NS, Canada
Affiliation at the time of the award: Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ, USA
Prize motivation: "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit - the CCD sensor"
Field: instrumentation, semiconductor technology
Prize share: 1/4
The ability to store images in a digital format is an important prerequisite for information technology. In 1969 Willard Boyle and George Smith sketched an electronic memory design, but their concept instead became the basis for a light sensitive charge coupled device, or CCD. In the sensor there is a grid of light sensitive cells that emit electrons when exposed to light, causing the cells to become electrically charged. When a voltage is applied to the cells, electrical signals are generated, which are used to build up a digital image. CCD was a breakthrough for digital camera technology.