Excerpts from the citation awarding the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics to Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Institute says Mr. Kao was honoured for breakthroughs in fibre optics while Mr. Boyle and Mr. Smith were honoured for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit.
“This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded for two scientific achievements that have helped to shape the foundations of today’s networked societies. They have created many practical innovations for everyday life and provided new tools for scientific exploration.”
“In 1966, Charles K. Kao made a discovery that led to a breakthrough in fibre optics. He carefully calculated how to transmit light over long distances via optical glass fibres. With a fibre of purest glass it would be possible to transmit light signals over 100 km, compared to only 20 meters for the fibres available in the 1960s.”
“A large share of the traffic is made up of digital images, which constitute the second part of the award. In 1969 Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith invented the first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor, a CCD (Charge-Coupled Device).”
“Digital photography has become an irreplaceable tool in many fields of research. The CCD has provided new possibilities to visualize the previously unseen. It has given us crystal clear images of distant places in our universe as well as the depths of the oceans.”