Nobel Prize in Physics


In 2009, there were three winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Charles K. Kao won "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication" and Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith won "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor."

Charles K. Kao: Fiber Optics


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(Photo: nobelprize.org)

Kao first published his work along with George Hockham on fiber optics in 1966. The original intent of the work was to be used for optical communication-- what it is in fact used for today. The only problem at the beginning was the light signal would be lost. With a team of scientists, he tested many materials until he came upon fused silica, which had very few impurities.
The definition of fiber optics from the Merriam Webster Dictionary is "thin transparent fibers of glass or plastic that are enclosed by material of a lower refractive index and that transmit light throughout their length by internal reflection."

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(Picture: howstuffworks.com)

Fiber optic cable consists of three main parts-- the core is a very thin glass fiber, the cladding is made of an optical material, which reflects light back to the core, and on the outside, a buffer coating, which is plastic to protect the inside from moisture. Fiber optic cables are used to transmit light signals. You can transmit information through these cables which makes them very useful. The light does not travel in a straight line down the cable, but it rather is bouncing around in the core, because the cladding does not absorb it. Light is kept in the core of the fiber optic through total internal reflection which occurs when the exit angle of a ray of light is greater than the incident angle, causing the fiber to become a "waveguide" for the light.

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To send data or sound, the light signals form a sort of code. There are transmitters and receivers, which encode and then decode these signals. If you are interested in how these fiber optics are made, watch this video:





Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith: CCD sensor



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George E. Smith

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Willard S. Boyle

In 1969, Boyle and Smith invented the charged-coupling device (CCD), a device for the movement of electrical charges. Often, the device is used with a sensor to produce the charge being read, and thus the CCD has become a major technology where the conversion of images to digital signals is required. It is used in medical and scientific applications where high-quality image data is required.
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The CCD contains a layer of silicon where several areas are ion implanted with phosphorus. This defines the channel in which the charged packets travel. The gate oxide is grown on top of the silicon.

Other Facts about the Nobel Prize:
The first Nobel Prize in Physics was in 1901. This Nobel Prize was awarded to Wilhelm Rontgen for his discovery of the X-Ray. During the years of 1916, 1931,1934, 1940, 1941, and 1942, the Nobel Prize in Physics was not awarded to anyone. Why? Because if there were no new discoveries or new inventions, then the prize money would be reserved for the following year.Also, no awards were awarded during World War II. If then the prize is not awarded, the reward of money goes into the restricted funds. The number of shared and unshared nobel prizes are as following..
  • 47 prizes have been given to one laureate
  • 28 prizes have been given to two laureates
  • 28 prizes have been given to three laureates.
What is a laureate? A laureate is a nobel prize winner. When a Nobel Prize has been awarded to a team of members, the prize money is awarded equally. There have been 103 Nobel Prize awards in Physics since 1901. There have been 186 people awarded a Nobel Prize since 1901. Out of those 186, only two have been women. The youngest prize winner was Lawrence Bragg. He won his Nobel Prize in 1915 at the age of twenty-five. The oldest prize winner was Raymond Davis Jr. in 2002 at the age of eighty-eight. There have been only two people in history that have won the Nobel Prize twice and they were Marie Curie and John Bardeen.

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Lawrence Bragg Raymond Davis Jr. Marie Curie