Eric Fossum

Eric Fossum 3

Eric R Fossum is a professor of engineering at the Thayer School of Engineering, New Hampshire, USA, and a serial entrepreneur. After graduating from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut in 1979, he gained a Masters (1980) and PhD (1984) in engineering and applied science from Yale University. He worked at Columbia University’s Electrical Engineering faculty (1984-90) and then joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While at NASA, Fossum invented the CMOS active pixel image sensor and the so-called ‘camera-on-a-chip’ CMOS image sensor. He also led the sensor’s development and technology transfer to US industry. He has been CEO of two high tech companies – Photobit Corporation and Siimpel Corporation – and was a consultant for Samsung Electronics 2008-13.

Fossum began winning awards at an early age. He received the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award (1986-1990) with later awards including a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (1996), the Royal Photographic Society Progress Medal (2004), the Yale University Wilbur Cross Medal and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Camera Origination and Imaging Medal (both 2014).

He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011 and is a volunteer for its Collegiate Inventors Competition and also Camp Invention, where young children take part in a one-week summer camp to unleash their inner inventor.


Three innovations across three decades have revolutionised our visual world: the charge-coupled device; the pinned photodiode and the complementary metal oxide semiconductor image sensor.