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Nobel Prize for Physics

Japanese scientists Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano and American Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel Prize for physics for inventing the LED, an energy efficient and environmentally-friendly light source, the award-giving body said today.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the invention is just 20 years old, “but it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all.”

The blue LED is a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source. In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.

When the three researchers 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 (Japan). Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.

Isamu 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 professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (US).

The laureates triggered a transformation of lighting technology when they produced bright blue light from semiconductors in the 1990s, something scientist had struggled with for decades, the Nobel committee said.

Using the blue light, LED lamps emitting white light could be created in a new way. 

Nakamura, who spoke to reporters in Stockholm over a crackling telephone line after being woken up by the phone call from the prize jury, said it was an amazing, and unbelievable feeling. The three Laureates will share SEK 8 million in prize money.

The Optical Society (OSA) today congratulated OSA Member Hiroshi Amano,  Isamu Akasaki and Shuji Nakamura for being awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. Amano joins 31 other OSA members who have been awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry or Physiology/Medicine over the course of OSA’s nearly 100-year history.

On Monday, US-British scientist John O’Keefe split the Nobel Prize in medicine with Norwegian couple May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for breakthroughs in brain cell research that could pave the way for a better understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Last year’s Nobel Prize in physics award went to Britain’s Peter Higgs and Belgian colleague Francois Englert for helping to explain how matter formed after the Big Bang.

Labels: Nobel Prize,LED,Blue LED,Akasaki,Amano,Nakamura

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