08 October 2009 Nobel Prize for Working Light!

Drs. Kao, Boyle and Smith

The optical fiber

The CCD sensor

ICFO congratulates laureate pioneers in light technology. Dr. Charles Kao, Dr. Willard Boyle and Dr. George Smith are this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics awardees.

Dr. Kao, from ST Labs (UK)/University of Hong Kong (China), was awarded half of the prize “for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication”; and Dr. Boyle and Dr. Smith, both from Bell Labs (USA), will share the other half of the award “for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor”.

ICFO Prof. Juan Torres on Dr. Kao:

“According to Nobel, annual prizes should be awarded “to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind…”. There is no doubt that high capacity long distance communications through optical fibers belong to the category of inventions that benefit mankind. Prof. Charles Kao was a visionary thinker at the end of the 1960\'s when he pushed the dream of using optical fibers for high capacity communications. A few years later in 1970, researchers from Corning demonstrated that the dream could be real. Our world would be completely different without those little pieces of pure glass that carry voice and data to every corner of the world.”

ICFO Prof. Valerio Pruneri on the CCD sensor:

“The invention of the CCD has changed human life because it allows us not only to detect the visible with much greater resolution than possible with our own eyes, but also the invisible. Key to its impact has been the fact that WSB and GES have managed to add imaging functionality to semiconductor based devices -from high speed communication lines to computers and vision devices-, which so ubiquitously permeate present day information societies.”