Feeds

CCD inventors secure Nobel Prize for Physics

Optical fibre pioneer also honoured

A new approach to endpoint data protection

This year's Nobel Prize for Physics has gone to Willard Sterling Boyle and George Smith, inventors of the Charge-Coupled Device (or CCD), and Charles Kuen Kao, for his pioneering work on optical fibres.

Boyle and Smith were working in Bell Labs in New Jersey when, in October 1969, they formulated the idea for the CCD. Colleagues initially dismissed the concept, but once Bell Labs had produced a working prototype, the rest was history.

Boyle later recounted that "all hell broke loose" when he shortly afterwards presented a paper about the CCD at a conference in New York pondering “The Future of Integrated Circuits”. At a stroke, he and Smith had laid the foundation for digital photography.

Charles Kuen Kao has been honoured for tackling the problem of light loss in optical fibres. In 1966, while at Standard Telephones and Cables' labs in Harlow, he realised that this loss, which severely limited the optical transmission of data, was due to imperfections in the glass, rather than an inherent flaw in the technology.

He told the BBC back in 2006: "At the time I told my annoyed wife, as I was always late home for dinner, that it could be a world shaking project! She told me to 'pull the other leg' in absolute disbelief."

He added: "I think I sensed it at the time, but I knew I would need to convince the industry worldwide."

Kao's findings met with scepticism among the engineering community, but subsequent manufacturing breakthroughs proved him right. The UK's Institute of Physics (IOP) notes that there are currently three million kilometres of optical fibre laid in the UK alone.

Dr Robert Kirby-Harris, IOP chief exec, said of the trio's achievements: “Ours is the age of information and images and no two things better symbolise this than the internet and digital cameras. From kilobytes to gigabytes, and now to petabytes and exabytes, information has never been so free-flowing or, with the development of CCD, so instantly visual.

"These incredible inventors who have been responsible for transforming the world in which we live very much deserve their prize.” ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?