2009 Nobel Physics Prize Winners

The Nobel Physics prize is being awarded with one half to Charles Kao. He is a Shanghai-born British-American that won half the physics prize for a discovery that led to a breakthrough in fiber optics that involves determining how to transmit light over long distances via optical glass fibers.
      Simply put, Kao figured out how to get light to travel far enough down a glass fiber to pass signals over great distances. Since light tends to course down a microns-thick fiber instead of leaking out of the side, it only hits the surface of the fiber at a very acute angle then it is reflected back into the glass. Kao correctly predicted that a very thin fiber that allowed the light to propagate in only one mode would be best for producing practical communications networks.
The Nobel Physics Award of 2009 was also awarded half jointly to Willard Boyle and George Smith. Willard Boyle, a Canadian-American, and George Smith of the United States claim to have thought up the device in a couple hours in 1969 while brainstorming. Together, they invented the charge-coupled device (CCD), which was the first electronic chip capable of capturing an image.
      The CCD remains a key technological creation that is great for medical imaging, astronomical telescopes, and digital cameras. It contains a silicon chip that is divided into cells or "pixels." When light hits a pixel, it excites an electric charge in the silicon, which then induces a charge in a tiny electrode on the chip's surface. The "charge coupling" occurs in which the charge then quickly passes from electrode to electrode and is read on the edge of the chip.

Sources Cited

Recent Winners Article by Rueters - http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Recent+winners+Nobel+prize+Physics/2071155/story.html

About the Nobel Winners Set - http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2010/oct/nobel101509.html

Peacebox - http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE59B2IO20091012

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