Alumnus George Smith receives Nobel Prize for developing a digital camera eye

Apparently the Nobel Prize committee didn’t realize how important digital cameras were until you started posting so many photos on Facebook.

By Ella Christoph

George E. Smith, SM’56, PhD’59, received the Nobel Prize yesterday for co-inventing the charge-coupled censor (CCD) – the electronic eye that makes digital cameras possible – in 1969. Since then, the device has also been used in telescopes, underwater cameras, and for microsurgery.

Smith and co-recipient Willard Boyle invented the device at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, in 1969. Smith spent his entire career at Bell Laboratories, after receiving his master's and doctoral degrees from the U of C. As a graduate student, Smith worked at the University's Institute of Metals – now known as the James Franke Institute.

Smith's prize brings the U of C's tally for graduates and professors of the university receiving Nobel Prizes in physics to 29. Last year, Professor Yoichiro Nambu received a prize for his research in subatomic physics.