Willard Boyle & George Smith Develop the CCD, a Sensor for Recording Images

Array of 30 CCDs used on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope imaging camera, an example of "drift-scanning".
Array of 30 CCDs used on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope imaging camera, an example of "drift-scanning".

Working at Bell Labs, in 1969 Willard Boyle and George E. Smith invented the charge-coupled device (CCD), a sensor for recording images.

Twenty years later, in 2009 Boyle and Smith shared half of the Nobel Prize in Physics "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor." 
In his acceptance speech for the prize George Smith made comments that help put the invention in perspective:

"It is heartening for us to see that the use of the CCD as solid state imaging devices initiated a revolution in which photographic film and electron beam imaging tubes were relegated to history. As part of the accelerating rise in information technology, it has helped transform the way we live our lives. Think of snapping a photo with your cell phone and instantly sending it to a friend thousands of miles away instead of finishing the roll of film, having it developed, putting it in an envelope and posting it to a far away country. Much easier to forget about it. The device is being used in many other applications including TV cameras, satellite surveillance and a variety of medical imaging applications. The one application which makes maximum use of the devices characteristics is in astronomy. CCD’s have been used to gaze much deeper and more accurately into the universe than ever before. This has resulted from the increased efficiency, lower noise, and larger dynamic range using CCDs than that which can be attained with photographic film. Also, the fact that you are using the same detector with each exposure allows you to correct for systematic errors in the CCD. No device is ever perfect nor is photographic film. Photographic film is a different detector with every shot. I was once thanked by a young astronomer for originating the device that created an avalanche of new data and made creating an original thesis project much, much easier. I have also been thanked by mobile TV cameraman for the big reduction in weight of their load" (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2009/smith/26290-george-e-smith-banquet-speech-2009/, accessed 9-2020).

"The lab [Bell Labs] was working on the picture phone and on the development of semiconductor bubble memory. Merging these two initiatives, Boyle and Smith conceived of the design of what they termed 'Charge "Bubble" Devices'. The essence of the design was the ability to transfer charge along the surface of a semiconductor. As the CCD started its life as a memory device, one could only "inject" charge into the device at an input register. However, it was immediately clear that the CCD could receive charge via the photoelectric effect and electronic images could be created. By 1969, Bell researchers were able to capture images with simple linear devices; thus the CCD was born. Several companies, including Fairchild Semiconductor, RCA and Texas Instruments, picked up on the invention and began development programs. Fairchild was the first with commercial devices and by 1974 had a linear 500 element device and a 2-D 100 x 100 pixel device. Under the leadership of Kazuo Iwama, Sony also started a big development effort on CCDs involving a significant investment. Eventually, Sony managed to mass produce CCDs for their camcorders. Before this happened, Iwama died in August 1982. Subsequently, a CCD chip was placed on his tombstone to acknowledge his contribution" (Wikipedia article on Charge-coupled device, accessed 10-06-2009).

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