An American and two Japanese scientists won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics for inventing a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source, leading to the creation of modern LED light bulbs.
Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and Japanese-born U.S. citizen Shuji Nakamura won the prize for developing the blue light-emitting diode (LED) — the missing piece that now allows manufacturers to produce white-light lamps.
The arrival of such lamps is changing the way homes and workplaces are lit, offering a longer-lasting and more efficient alternative to the incandescent bulbs pioneered by Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison at the end of the 19th century.
“Red and green LEDs have been around for a long time but blue was really missing. Thanks to the blue LED we now can get white light sources which have very high energy efficiency and very long lifetime,” Per Delsing, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, told a news conference.
“Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps,” the academy said in a statement.
“With 20 percent of the world’s electricity used for lighting, it’s been calculated that optimal use of LED lighting could reduce this to 4 percent. Akasaki, Amano and Nakamura’s research has made this possible and this prize recognises this contribution,” she said.
Contacted by telephone in the middle of the night, Nakamura said of the award: “It’s unbelievable.”
Nakamura invented the blue-light emitting diode while working at Nichia, an unlisted firm, but received next to nothing from them for the work until 2004, when the Tokyo District Court ordered Nichia to pay him a record 20 billion yen.
Nobel Prize Winner Prof Nakamura Talks un-cut – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9in3hZreYts