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Invention of Efficient Blue LED Wins Nobel Prize in Physics
Oct 09, 2014

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.

Professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura made the first blue LEDs in the early 1990s. By combining blue light with existing red and green LEDs, this enabled a new generation of bright, energy-efficient white lamps as well as LED screens.

Although red and green LEDs had been around for many years, blue LEDs were a long-standing challenge for scientists. Without them, the three colours could not be mixed to produce white light in lamps, as well as in computer and TV screens.

Today, blue LEDs are found in people's pockets around the world, inside the lights and screens of smartphones.

White LED lamps, meanwhile, deliver white light to offices and households around the world. They use much less energy than both incandescent and fluorescent lamps.

That improvement arises because LEDs convert electricity directly into photons of light, instead of the wasteful mixture of heat and light generated inside traditional incandescent bulbs. Those bulbs use current to heat a wire filament until it glows, while the gas discharge inside fluorescent lamps also produces both heat and light.

In just 20 years, 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.

Dr. Akasaki, 85, of Meijo University and Nagoya University, and Dr. Amano, 54, of Nagoya University, are Japanese citizens. Dr. Nakamura, 60, is an American citizen.


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