The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three scientists for “the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes, which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.” The work of Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara was integral to the creation of now-standard white LED bulbs that provide “more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.”
Akasaki, Amano and Nakamura worked both in collaboration and independently to create the blue LEDs in the early 1990s. Prior to their success, scientists had only been able to create red and green LEDs—struggling (and failing) for some 30 years to create the blue LEDs necessary to create energy-efficient, bright, white light.
In honoring the scientists, the Nobel Committee explained that the spirit of the Nobel Prize is to reward an invention that greatly benefits mankind, adding that “[t]heir inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.” Moreover, with around one-fourth of the world’s electricity consumption used for lighting, potential savings in terms of the earth’s resources are huge.
Underscoring the importance of the invention of blue LEDs, the committee continued: “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 create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all.”
The trio will split the $1.1 million prize, to be awarded in Stockholm on 10 December, 2014.
Via New York Times