For 30 years scientists tried to create the blue LED. Red and green diodes had been around for years, but in 1990 three scientists created blue diodes and only then could the white LED lamps that we see lighting every corner of our world be created.
One-fourth of the world’s electrical energy is consumed in producing light, the invention of the blue LED holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids. Given this and because LED lights save on energy, last long and are environmentally-friendly because they don’t contain mercury, the honoring committee said the trio’s work is in keeping with the spirit of Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize.
Officially, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura were honored with the 2014 Physics Nobel prize for inventing the blue light emitting diode. Together these three scientists have received over 46 awards.
Shuji Nakamura, born May 22 1954 is a Japanese American professor at the University of Santa Barbara in California. Nakamura graduated from the University of Tokusjima and joined Nichia Corporation also in Tokushima Japan. At the time, many considered creating a GaN LED too difficult to produce, therefore Nakamura was fortunate that the founder of Nichia, Nobuo Ogawa (1912–2002) was initially willing to support his GaN project.
The principal problem in developing the blue LED was making strongly p-type GaN. Another Japanese group led by Professor Isamu Akaski and Hiroshi Amano, had a method however it wasn’t suitable for mass production. Nakamura, drawing on that work managed to develop a thermal annealing method that was more suitable for mass production.