George E. Smith
Born: 10 May 1930, White Plains, NY, USA
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 George Smith and Willard Boyle 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.