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A Simple Illustrative Model of a Charge-Coupled Device (CCD)

Physics Teacher Volume 47, Number 7, ISSN 0031-921X


Many students (as well as the general public) use modern technology without an understanding of how these devices actually work. They are what scientists refer to in the laboratory as "black boxes." Students often wonder how physics relates to the technology used in the real world and are interested in such applications. An example of one such "black box" is the charge-coupled device (CCD), an electronic imaging sensor invented in 1970 by Bell Labs researchers Willard Boyle and George Smith. Astronomers first embraced CCD technology in the early 1980s because CCDs are very light sensitive, consume low amounts of power, and generate digital images quickly. More than three decades later, CCDs have become ubiquitous, as they are found in consumer digital cameras, scanners, photocopiers, medical imaging devices and spectroscopic detectors. This paper presents a model of a CCD "chip" that can be easily adapted as a classroom demonstration.


Santillo, M.F. (2009). A Simple Illustrative Model of a Charge-Coupled Device (CCD). Physics Teacher, 47(7), 454-455. Retrieved May 22, 2019 from .

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