Inventors of blue LEDs achieve Nobel Prize recognition
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that although the invention of Japanese scientists, Prof. Isamu Akasaki, 85, a professor at Meijo University and distinguished professor at Nagoya University. Nagoya University;s Prof. Hiroshi Amano, 54, and Shuji Nakamura, 60, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, was just 20 years old "it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all."
The winners will share prize money of eight million kronor (£0.7m).
The scientific community had been struggling for decades to produce the blue diodes that are a crucial component in producing white light from LEDs when the three laureates made their breakthroughs in the early 1990s.
The work of the trio transformed lighting technology, paving the way for LED lights that are more long-lasting and energy-efficient than older sources of light. Although red and green LEDs had been around for a number of years, blue LEDs had become a long-standing challenge for scientists in both academia and industry. Without them, the three colours could not be mixed to produce white light in LED lamps.
"They succeeded where everyone else had failed," pointed out the Nobel committee. "Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps."
Akasaki, 85, is a professor at Meijo University and distinguished professor at Nagoya University. Amano, 54, is also a professor at Nagoya University, while the 60-year-old Nakamura is a Japanese-born professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Akasaki and Amano made their inventions while working at Nagoya University while Nakamura was working separately at Japanese company Nichia Chemicals. They built their own equipment and carried out thousands of experiments – many of which failed – before they made their breakthroughs.
The Nobel committee said LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources because about one-fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes.
They are more efficient than older light sources, and tend to last 10 times longer than fluorescent lamps and 100 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
"The blue LED is a fundamental invention that that is rapidly changing the way we bring light to every corner of the home, the street and the workplace – a practical
invention that comes from a fundamental understanding of physics in the solid state," said H. Frederick Dylla, the executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics.