The Nobel Prizes tend to be given to people for breakthroughs or ideas rather than inventions. However, over the decades, there have been a handful of inventions to bring home the prize. Here are two of the best inventions to win the Nobel prize in physics.
2014 Physics Nobel: Blue LED.
Three scientists in the country of Japan won the Nobel Prize thanks to their invention of the blue light emitting diode(LED). Chances are, you have seen a blue LED in use. Maybe you didn’t think much of it at the time. After all, they are pretty commonplace today. However, that is often what marks a Nobel-worthy invention. It is something that opens up new possibilities and finds itself very common in everyday use.
What you may not know is that blue LEDs were particularly challenging to create. Red and green LEDs were already a thing long before the blue came along. These three colors were also required if a white LED were to ever be created.
Today, white LEDs are commonly used as household lamps as well as in computer screens and televisions. They are energy efficient, cost effective, and outshine fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs. These lamps would have never been possible had these Japanese scientists not unlocked the secrets of the blue LED.
2009 Physics Nobel: CCD.
Another great invention in the field of light, this particular invention; however, is meant to detect light rather than emit it. The CCD, or charge-coupled device, was actually invented back in 1969 by George E. Smith and Willard S. Boyle. It was the first digital sensor to successfully capture an image. It relied on the photoelectric effect described by Einstein.
The CCD works as the eye of the camera. The CCD is what eventually lead to the birth of the digital camera as a recreational device as well as a professional tool in fields like medicine and science. It is hard to picture a world without smartphone cameras and digital cameras, all of which are possible thanks to this invention.