Under the gun, Smith and Boyle went into an office and, in one hour, emerged with the basic plans for the CCD, the sensor still used in digital photography today. A CCD works like this: Light hits a tiny grid of photosensitive silicon cells, each which build a charge proportional to the intensity of the light hitting it. This charge can be measured precisely and we can know exactly how bright that portion should be. Add filters, and color can be discerned too.
This year’s Nobel Laureates are rewarded for having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source – the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.
When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a funda-mental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades.
Chemical reactions occur at lightning speed as electrons jump between atomic nuclei, making it virtually impossible to map every separate step in chemical processes involving large molecules like proteins.
Powerful computer models, first developed by the three scientists in 1970s, offer a new window onto such reactions and have become a mainstay for researchers in thousands of academic and industrial laboratories around the world.