Willard Sterling Boyle
Born Aug 19 1924 - Died May 7 2011
Charge-Coupled Device (CCD)
Patent Number 3,858,232
Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith invented the
charge-coupled device (CCD), a light-sensitive microchip that enabled dramatic
advances in digital imaging technology. CCDs are found in most imaging devices including digital cameras,
scanners, and fax machines.
The charge-coupled device stores information in discrete
packets of electric charge in columns of closely spaced semiconductor
capacitors. Stored information is read
by shifting stored charges down the columns, one position at a time. The CCDs’
ultra-sensitivity to light makes it an important tool for scientists. Most telescopes, including the Hubble Space
Telescope, rely on CCDs for electronic imaging.
Boyle’s major contributions include the first continuously
operating ruby laser and the first patent proposing a semiconductor injection
laser. At Bellcomm, Inc., Boyle helped identify landing sites for NASA’s manned lunar space program.
Born in Nova Scotia, Boyle was home schooled until grade
nine. After training as a pilot for the Canadian Navy during World War II, he went on to earn a Ph.D. from McGill
University, Montreal.While working at Bell Labs in 1969, Boyle and Smith sketched out the basic CCD in about an hour,
and built a working prototype in under a week.