Nokia Bell Labs won its third Technology Emmy Awards

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) declared Nokia Bell Labs, along with Michael Tompsett as one of the receivers of the 71st Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards, for the trailblazing development of Charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor. Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith are acclaimed as the co-inventors of CCDs.

The CCD image sensor is one of the types of image sensors, which plays the role of converting light received on a camera into electric charge, and processing it into electronic signals for creating a digital image.

Well, its full research history cannot be captured in this article. However, on dwelling a bit, you would find that CCDs are based on metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) structure, which itself was invented at Bell Labs.

When the co-inventors were researching MOS technology in the late 1960s, they realized that even the tiniest MOS capacitors arranged in a row, along with enough voltage could transfer an electric charge from one to the other capacitor. And, that is how they invented the CCDs, which they initially used to call as “Charge Bubble Devices”.

Its application ranges from color cameras to medical imaging to astronomy and telescopes. With further enhancements and being less expensive, CCDs replaced the traditional photographic film rolls (remember?) in many fields and majorly in the television industry. However, CCDs have a limited presence in mobile phone cameras because of significant disadvantages over CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensors.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NATAS postponed the award ceremony until further notice, which was scheduled for April 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, US.

Till then, you can take a look at the accolades that Nokia Bell Labs* has won for the invention of CCD image sensors:

  • 1999 – C&C (Computers and Communication) Prize
  • 2006 – Draper Prize
  • 2009 – Nobel Prize (in Physics)
  • 2010 – (U.S.) National Medal of Technology & Innovation
  • 2012 – IEEE Edison Medal
  • 2017 – QEPrize (Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering)
  • 2020 – Technology & Engineering Emmy Award

Sources: 1, 2

*Bell Labs became a part of Nokia on January 14, 2016.

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