Japanese-American trio who invented LED lamp share 2014 Physics Nobel

07 Oct 2014


Japanese scientists Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano together with American Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel prize for Physics, for inventing an energy efficient and environment-friendly new light source, the light-emitting diode (LED).

Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura

''The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 was awarded jointly to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes, which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources," the Nobel Prize awards committee said.

"With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($1.1 million) prize.

Isamu Akasaki teaches both at the Meijo University, Nagoya, and Nagoya University, in Japan while Hiroshi Amano is with Nagoya University, Japan and Shuji Nakamura is attached to the University of California, Santa Barbara (CA), USA.

Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima.

The prize amount of SEK 8 million will be shared equally among the laureates, the Nobel committee said.

''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,'' the committee noted.

''They succeeded where everyone else had failed…Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.''

White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and energy-efficient, they are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in Watt).

The most recent record is just over 300 lm/W, which can be compared to 16 for regular light bulbs and close to 70 for fluorescent lamps.

With one fourth of world electricity consumption 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.''

The invention of the blue LED is just twenty years old, but it has already contributed to creating white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all, the committee noted.

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