The pioneers of fibre optics and the CCD sensor have jointly won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics. Charles K Kao, Willard S Boyle and George E Smith all shared the award, with Kao being awarded half the prize, and Boyle and Smith getting a quarter each.

Charles K Kao was awarded his half "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication". He calculated in 1966 how it'd be possible to transmit light more than 100km in cables by removing impurities in glass. At the time, fibre-optic cables could only manage about 20 metres.

Willard S Boyle and George E Smith received their quarter-awards "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor". The two created the "charge-coupled device" sensor while working at Bell Labs in 1969. It used Einstein's photoelectric effect to transform light into electronic signals - the team had to work out how to turn those signals into pixels in a rapid period of time. Today, CCDs are used in digital cameras, astronomy, and medicine, as well as other fields.

The prize total is 10 million Swedish Kronor, and so each prizewinner will get a share of that sum. Nobel Prizes are awarded for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Economics and Literature and are awarded every year "to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind".