The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded today to three scientists whose research into light paved the way for the digital age. Charles Kao received the prize for his work on the transmission of light through fiber-optic cables—the basis of modern communication networks. Bell Labs researchers Willard Boyle and George Smith were recognized for inventing a semiconductor unit used in the eye of contemporary digital cameras.
All three laureates, whose research dates from the late 1960s, are American citizens, although Kao was born in Shanghai and also holds British citizenship, and Boyle is also a Canadian. Kao will be awarded half of the $1.4 million prize in Stockholm in December, while Boyle and Smith will each receive a quarter.