Sample photo taken with the Quanta Image Sensor. It is a binary single-photon image, so if the pixel was hit by one or more photons, it is white; if not, it is black.
QEPrize winner Eric Fossum, together with engineers from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, has produced a new imaging technology that may revolutionise medical and life sciences research, security, photography and cinematography.
The new technology is called the Quanta Image Sensor, or QIS. It will enable highly sensitive, more easily manipulated and higher quality digital imaging than is currently available. The sensor can reliably capture and count single photons, generating a resolution as high as one megapixel, as fast as thousands of frames per second. Plus, the QIS can accomplish this in low light, at room temperature, using mainstream image sensor technology. Previous technology required large pixels, low temperatures or both.
An engineer, scientist and social tech entrepreneur, I am currently studying for a PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. The co-founder of two social tech start-ups, ‘Wudi‘ & ‘Favalley‘, my vision is to innovate, transform and empower society, revolutionising education through technology. I aspire to provide a platform for young people to become positive change makers for society.
Being in love with physics, exploring, and creating ‘stuff’, engineering came as an obvious choice to me. Trying to understand the mysterious ‘electric shock’ I received from objects as a child motivated me to take up electrical engineering as my specialisation. I started off with an undergraduate degree, then moved on to do a master’s and am now pursuing a PhD in the same area.
In celebration of our winners collecting the 2017 QEPrize from Buckingham Palace earlier this week, we hosted a very special event at the Science Museum.
More than 120 students from secondary schools across London joined us yesterday to hear the story of digital imaging sensors from the inventors themselves. Leading the conversation was BBC Click presenter, LJ Rich. With an eye on the latest gadgets, LJ has a keen interest in all things tech and everything unusual! Completing our panel of engineering experts were ‘Rocket Woman’, Vinita Marwaha Madill, and biomedical imaging specialist, Professor Alison Noble.
Next week marks the most important day in our calendar, as we head to Buckingham Palace for the presentation of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering!
Winning engineers Eric Fossum, Nobukazu Teranishi and Michael Tompsett will each be presented with their unique, 3D printed trophy by HRH the Prince of Wales. Together with George Smith, who is unable to attend the ceremony, this year’s winners are honoured for their contribution to creating digital imaging sensors. Found in billions of digital cameras and smartphones across the world, this innovation has transformed medicine, science, communication and entertainment.
Two years ago, on a rainy Monday in October, Queen Elizabeth II handed the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering to Dr Robert Langer. Only the second person to receive the award, the chemical engineer was honoured for his life’s work in developing ways to control the release of large-molecule drugs over time.
Used by 300 pharmaceutical, chemical and biotechnology companies, and featuring in some 1000 patents, Bob’s work has touched the lives of 2 billion people worldwide. His technology has helped develop treatments for cancer, diabetes and mental illnesses. He has even worked with famed voice surgeon, Steven Zeitels, to treat vocal injuries like those suffered by Julie Andrews and Adele.
Two years after receiving the award, Bob remains delightfully humbled by his success. “It was such a tremendous honour,” he said. “Firstly, it was a thrill to meet the Queen, who was so nice, and to meet five other members of the Royal Family. It’s such a wonderful prize and it’s hard for me to believe I could receive such an honour.”
When Nobukazu Teranishi began tinkering with semiconductors in the University of Tokyo’s undergraduate physics lab, he never dreamed it would land him the world’s most prestigious engineering prize. As he prepares to receive his award at Buckingham Palace next month, the news of the announcement is still sinking in.
“It makes me very happy and proud to have spent 40 years developing digital imaging sensors. There are so many technologies that are indispensable to our everyday lives and I feel very lucky that our work on imaging sensors has been chosen,” he said.
Teranishi is one of four engineers responsible for creating the digital imaging sensors found in digital cameras and smartphones around the world- and above it. His innovation, the pinned photodiode, is the missing puzzle piece linking the first CCD sensors to the tiny CMOS sensors of today.
Stepping outside our office in central London, it’s impossible to miss the impact of this year’s QEPrize-winning innovation. Tourists wear expensive SLR cameras slung casually about their necks; school children gather on Westminster Bridge, all vying for a selfie in front of Big Ben; and every so often the insect-like chatter of shutters explodes from a flurry of press photographers camped outside No.10 Downing Street.
Quizzed about digital imaging, most of us will instantly think of our mobile phones. High-resolution cameras are now common-place in the pocket-sized devices we carry every day. They give us quality face time with friends a world away and can upload a hipster shot of your ‘latte art’ before it’s even begun to cool.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Transcending languages, they cross oceans, reach out from space and show us inside the human body. In December, the winners of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering will receive their award at Buckingham Palace. They are to be honoured for creating digital imaging sensors. Together, they have revolutionised the way we see and capture the world around us.
Digital imaging allows people worldwide access to a vast array of pictures and videos. They have enable high-speed, low-cost colour imaging at a resolution and sensitivity that can exceed that of the human eye. From snaps of individual cells to stars billions of light years away, image sensors have transformed our lives.