PRNewswire, Time, Dartmouth News: Eric Fossum, George Smith, Nobukazu Teranishi, and Michael Tompsett were announced as the winners of Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for the creation of digital imaging sensors. The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a £1 million prize, celebrating world-changing engineering innovations.
The revolution began in the 1970s with the development of the CCD by George Smith and its use in imaging by Michael Tompsett. The CCD is the image sensor inside early digital cameras, converting particles of light, or photons, into electrical signals enabling the image to be stored as digital data. The following decade, Nobukazu Teranishi invented the pinned photodiode (PPD), reducing the size of light-capturing 'pixels' and significantly improving image quality. The development of the CMOS sensor by Eric Fossum in 1992 allowed cameras to be made smaller, cheaper and with better battery life.
Tompsett told TIME that he was in "total shock and awe" when he found out he was a winner of the prize. "I was familiar with the need to make the cameras smaller," he said. "But at that time, did I guess that everyone would one day carry around a sensor in their pockets? No. What's happened over the last 40 or 50 years is the technology has continued to improve - image sensors are now all over the world and are being manufactured by the billions."
In 1992, Fossum developed the CMOS image sensor when working at JPL. "I knew [the CMOS image sensor] would be useful for all kinds of things, but everyday I am still astonished by how widespread the technology is and in how many different places it's being used - from selfies taken by smartphones to pill cameras that can look inside your small intestine," Fossum said. "If I'd known this before I started the company, I probably would have structured things differently - I could have made a lot more money!"
Thanks to AT for the link!