(L-R) Michael Tompsett, Eric Fossum, and Nobukazu Teranishi
The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize) is an international, £1 million engineering prize that rewards and celebrates the engineers behind a ground-breaking innovation that has been of global benefit to humanity. The objective of the QEPrize is to raise the public profile of engineering and to inspire young people to become engineers.


The 2017 QEPrize honours the four engineers responsible for the creation of digital imaging sensors; Eric Fossum, George Smith, Nobukazu Teranishi and Michael Tompsett. Together, three innovations spanning three decades have revolutionised our visual world. They are the charge coupled device (CCD), the pinned photodiode (PPD) and the complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor.

Digital imaging now enables society to access a vast array of intricately detailed pictures and video, ranging from the minute scale of cell structures to images of far-flung stars and galaxies billions of light years from Earth.

Billions of sensors are produced every year to be used in medicine, environmental monitoring, the frontiers of space, transport, security, scientific research, personal communication and entertainment. The growing breadth of application to this engineering innovation is breathtaking.

Infographic: image sensor technology

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Chair of Judges for the QEPrize, said: “A picture is a universal form of communication. It can be shared instantly with anyone around the world, no matter what language they speak. We chose this innovation to win the QEPrize this year because it epitomises what the prize stands for. Everyone around the world, especially young people, understands the importance of images. This engineering innovation is inspirational, it is truly something that everyone can understand, and it has had a remarkable social impact worldwide.”

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation has overall responsibility for the prize and the board of trustees is chaired by Lord Browne of Madingley. The day-to-day running of the prize is managed by the QEPrize team at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is funded by an endowment which has been established with support from the following generous corporate donors:

  • BAE Systems
  • BG Group
  • BP
  • GSK
  • Hitachi Ltd
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • National Grid
  • Nissan Motor Corporation
  • Shell UK Ltd
  • Siemens UK 
  • Sony
  • Tata Consultancy Services
  • Tata Steel Europe
  • Toshiba

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering website