Return to Advancement of Basic and Applied Science

2018 Advancement of Basic and Applied Science Award – Eric R. Fossum

Eric R. Fossum, PhD. ’84, Engineering and Applied Science

John H. Krehbiel Sr. Professor for Emerging Technologies, Dartmouth College
Director, PhD Innovation Program
Associate Provost, Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer

Eric Fossum is best known for the invention of the CMOS image sensor “camera-on-a-chip” used in billions of cameras, from smart phones to web cameras to pill cameras and many other applications. He was awarded Yale’s Wilbur Cross Medal and has served on the Leadership Council of the Yale University School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is a solidstate image sensor device physicist and engineer, and his career has included academic and government research and entrepreneurial leadership.

In 2017 Eric received the Queen Elizabeth Prize from HRH Prince Charles, regarded by many as the Nobel Prize of Engineering, along with Teranishi, Tompsett and Smith, for the creation of digital imaging sensors. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011, elected to the National Academy of Engineering and selected as a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Other honors include the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the IEEE Andrew Grove Award and Medal, the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Medal, the Royal Photographic Society’s Progress Medal, the American Photographic Society’s Progress Medal, the SMPTE Camera Origination and Imaging Medal, and the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award. He was awarded Trinity College’s Alumni Medal for Excellence. An early Photobit sensor and camera is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Inventing in America exhibit, and he served as an AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador.

A Connecticut native, he received his B.S. in Physics and Engineering from Trinity College in Hartford before attending Yale. He was a member of Columbia University’s Electrical Engineering faculty, then joined the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, managing JPL’s image sensor and focal-plane technology research and advanced development. While at JPL, he invented the intra-pixel charge transfer CMOS active-pixelsensor camera on-a-chip technology and led its development and subsequent transfer of the technology to US industry. Nearly all of the 4 billion CMOS cameras made each year use the intra-pixel charge transfer invention. Dr. Fossum co-founded Photobit Corporation to commercialize the technology and served in several top management roles including Chairman and CEO. Photobit was acquired by Micron Technology Inc. He was Chairman and CEO of Siimpel Corporation, developing MEMS-based camera modules with auto-focus and shutter functions for cell phones. He consulted with Samsung Electronics, working on 3D image sensors as well as strategic issues before joining Dartmouth.

Fossum has published over 300 technical papers and holds 165 US patents. He co-founded the International Image Sensor Society (IISS) and was its first President. He is a Fellow member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), a Fellow member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), and a member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and the AAAS.

He volunteers on the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Inventors and the International Image Sensor Society, and the Board of Trustees of Trinity College. He has served on the Peer Selection Committee for the NAE, the Fellow Selection Committee of the NAI, and the selection committee and Board for the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF). He also supports Camp Invention and the Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Dr. Fossum has transformed the way that billions of people see and record their daily lives, and his work has revolutionized optical sensor array technology and made whole fields of research possible. For these reasons and more, we are proud to honor Eric Fossum as the 2018 recipient of the Yale Science & Engineering Award for Advancement of Basic & Applied Science.