Eric Fossum

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Eric R. Fossum (born 1957) is an American physicist and engineer, inventor of the CMOS image sensor. He is currently a professor at Thayer School of Engineering in Dartmouth College.

Early years and education[edit]

Fossum was born and raised in Simsbury, Connecticut and attended public school there. He also spent Saturdays at the Talcott Mountain Science Center in Avon CT which he credits for his lifelong interest in science, engineering and mentoring students. He received his B.S. in physics and engineering from Trinity College in 1979 and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Yale University in 1984.

Academic career[edit]

Eric R. Fossum was a member of the Electrical Engineering faculty at Columbia University from 1984 to 1990. At Columbia University, he and his students performed research on CCD focal-plane image processing and high speed III-V CCDs. In 1990, Dr. Fossum joined the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and managed JPL’s image sensor and focal-plane technology research and advanced development.


While Fossum was at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, then-NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin invoked a plan of "Faster, Better, Cheaper" for NASA Space Science missions. One of the instrument goals was to miniaturize charge-coupled device (CCD) camera systems onboard interplanetary spacecraft. In response, Fossum invented the CMOS Active pixel sensor (APS) camera-on-a-chip technology. As part of Goldin's directive to transfer space technology to the public sector whenever possible, Fossum led the CMOS APS development and subsequent transfer of the technology to US industry, including Eastman Kodak, AT&T Bell Labs, National Semiconductor and others. Despite initial skepticism by entrenched CCD manufacturers, the CMOS image sensor technology is now used in almost all cell-phone cameras, many medical applications such as capsule endoscopy and dental x-ray systems, scientific imaging, automotive safety systems, DSLR digital cameras and many other applications.


In 1995, frustrated by the slow pace of the technology's adoption, he and then-wife Dr. Sabrina Kemeny co-founded Photobit Corporation to commercialize the technology. He joined as Chairman of the Board and Chief Scientist in 1996 and became CEO of Photobit Technology Corporation in 2000. In late 2001, Micron Technology Inc. acquired Photobit and Dr. Fossum was named a Senior Micron Fellow. He left Micron in 2003. In 2005, he joined SiWave Inc., a developer of MEMS technology for mobile phone handsets, as CEO. SiWave was renamed Siimpel and grew substantially before his departure in 2007. Siimpel was later acquired by Tessera.

From 2008 to the present he has been a consultant with Samsung Electronics, Semiconductor R&D Center. He joined Dartmouth in 2010.

In 2007 he sponsored, in part, the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Robot Contest,[1] aimed at increasing innovation and invention in the world of robotics.

In 1986 he founded the IEEE Workshop on CCDS, now known as the International Image Sensor Workshop. He is President of ImageSensors, Inc. A California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation that manages the workshop and an on-line library of technical papers.

Achievements and awards[edit]

Eric R. Fossum has published over 240 technical papers, and holds more than 130 U.S. patents. He is a Fellow member of the IEEE. He has been primary thesis adviser to several graduated Ph.D.s. He has received several prizes and honors. Some of those awards and honors are:


  1. ^ Trinity Fire Fighting Robot Contest -Event Sponsors

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