A trio of scientists, two from Japan and one from the U.S., will share the Nobel Prize in physics for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which led to a new, environmentally friendly light source.
Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and U.S. scientist Shuji Nakamura were selected by the committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to share the 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million) prize.
"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."
The New York Times says the three physicists "working together and separately" were able to lay the groundwork enabling the "production of white light from light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. In just 20 years, the Nobel committee said, the invention has revolutionized lighting. For the same amount of energy consumption, LED bulbs produce four times the light of a fluorescent bulb and nearly 20 times the light of a standard incandescent bulb."
"Prof Nakamura, who was woken up in Japan to receive the news, told the press conference, 'It's unbelievable.'
"Making the announcement, representatives of the Nobel Foundation emphasised the usefulness of the invention, adding that the Nobel Prizes were established to recognise developments that delivered 'the greatest benefit to mankind.'
" 'These uses are what would make Alfred Nobel very happy,' said Prof Olle Inganas, a member of the prize committee from Linkoping University."