CCD pioneers snap a Nobel prize

The pioneers of the CCD camera, which led to developments that gave us the digital camera and improved astronomical data, have been honoured with the 2009 Nobel prize for physics.

Charles K. Kao, who worked on the transmission of light through optical fibres shares the prize with Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, who came up with the Charge Coupled Device, or CCD, which uses the energy of incoming photons to excite electrons into boundaries that can then be read out. This means that CCDs have a linear response to the colour of light that comes its way, as opposed to film, whose response is dependent on the particular mix of chemicals used in the exposure. This has allowed far greater consistency in astronomical measurements.


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