The 2009 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for breakthroughs involving the transmission of light in fiber optics and inventing the CCD sensor.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said all three have American citizenship. Kao also holds British citizenship while Boyle is a Canadian dual national.
Kao initiated the search for and the development of the low-loss optical fiber used in optical fiber communication systems.
He showed that fused silica (SiO2) had the purity required for optical communication, which led to a search to produce glass fibers with low losses.
Four years after Kao's seminal 1969 paper, a research team from the Corning Glass Works used a Chemical Vapor Deposition process in making glass fibers of
fused silica with the low losses that Kao had envisioned.
Boyle and Smith invented the charge-coupled device used in many digital cameras and in advanced medical and scientific instrumentation. They conceived the device at Bell Laboratories in 1969.
The award, announced Tuesday (Oct. 6), includes a cash award for $1.4 million.
The prize ceremonies will be held in Stockholm on Dec. 10.