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Japanese Scientist Trio Wins Nobel Prize In Physics For Blue LED Invention

Date: 2014-10-27   Clicked: 4516

10/7/2014 7:38 AM ET

Three Japanese scientists who invented energy efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LED), an invention that is just twenty years old, have won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics.

Announcing the award in Stockholm on Tuesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura are rewarded for "An invention of greatest benefit to mankind" - a new bright and energy-saving environment-friendly white light sources.


By using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. The advent of LED lamps paved the way for more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.

When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades.


They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. "Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps," according to the award committee.


White LED lamps are long-lasting, energy-efficient emit a bright white light,. They are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in watt). As about one fourth of world's electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth's resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights.


The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids. Due to low power requirements, it can be powered by cheap local solar power.


Isamu Akasaki, 85, is Professor at Meijo University, Nagoya, and Distinguished Professor at Nagoya University, Japan.

Hiroshi Amano, 54, also is Professor at Nagoya University.

Born in Japan in 1954, Shuji Nakamura is an American citizen. Currently he is Professor at University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Laureates will equally share the prize amount of SEK 8 million ($1.11 million).

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