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Celebrating the creation of digital imaging sensors

Nov 20, 2017   |   Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

QE Prize Winners

"A picture is worth a thousand words," writes The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. "Transcending languages, they cross oceans, reach out from space and show us inside the human body. In December, the winners of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering will receive their award at Buckingham Palace. They are to be honoured for creating digital imaging sensors. Together, they have revolutionised the way we see and capture the world around us.

"Digital imaging allows people worldwide access to a vast array of pictures and videos. They have enable high-speed, low-cost colour imaging at a resolution and sensitivity that can exceed that of the human eye. From snaps of individual cells to stars billions of light years away, image sensors have transformed our lives. ...

... "The final piece of the puzzle fell into place with the work of Eric Fossum at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Tasked with shrinking CCD-based cameras for space travel, Fossum created a new sensor. Like the CCD, Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors, or CMOS sensors, use pixels to produce a current. Unlike CCDs, the second-generation sensor has transistors at each pixel to amplify and move charge. This means not only can sensors be shrunk to fit on a fingertip, they use 100 times less power than CCDs. CMOS chips proved cheap to produce and paved the way for cheaper cameras with better battery life. They have made photography accessible to everyone."

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