LED lighting gets Nobel Prize!

Singapore, 7th October 2014

The big and unique news of today is that the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to a trio of scientists in Japan and the US for the “invention of blue light emitting diodes”. Professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura discovered a way to create blue light emitting diodes (LEDs) in the 90’s, something that everyone else had failed to achieve. This enabled to create the new generation of white energy saving lights including LED screens and the like. The red and green LED’s had been around for much longer but the creation of blue light was essential for furthering the technology allowing to mix the colours for the creation of general lighting, TV screens, etc. The Nobel Price to awarded long after the actual invention, but the price was awarded to recognise usefulness and the enormous contribution it made as a benefit to mankind.

The interesting thing is that many big companies tried to develop the blue light but did not succeed. These guys kept trying and eventually found the way to do it. The key ingredient to create blue was gallium nitride. The report said that being able to grow big enough crystals was the key achieved by prof Akasaki and Amano when they worked at the Nagoya University. They did this by growing them on a specially designed scaffold made partly from sapphire. Not long thereafter Prof Nakamura made a similar breakthrough while working at Nichia (now one of the leading LED manufacturers). He achieved it by manipulating temperature to boost the growth of these important crystals.

One of the key parts of the citation explains how the use of LED in lighting potentially will help reduce the carbon footprint for lighting which currently accounts for about 20% of the world’s electricity to around 4% only,. Also LED lighting, because of their low energy demand, could potentially help more than 1.5 billion people who have no access to electricity grids to lighting by running the LED lamps on cheap local solar power.

To my knowledge it is the first time that a Nobel Prize has been  awarded to a lighting related subject. I think the award to the inventors of the blue Led that subsequently made all our LED lighting possible certainly deserves this recognition…

Light Watch 5-169: The Nobel Prize winners as officially announced on the Nobel Prize website (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2014/press.html)

Also a link to the Sydney Morning Herald with a video of one of the award winning professors (http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/nobel-prize-for-physics-goes-to-inventors-of-lowenergy-led-light-20141007-10rm03.html)

Pictures from the website

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08. October 2014 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and the economy, lighting applications, lighting of the future, lighting standards | Leave a comment

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