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Nobel Prize in Physics to the Japanese developers of the blue LED and the lighting revolution

Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shoji Nakamura solved the puzzle of the blue LED in the nineties after thirty years of scientists and development personnel in industrial companies trying to develop it. Together with the red and green LEDs that have been known since the sixties, the discovery made it possible to create a strong white light, which translates, among other things, to the economical light bulbs.

Blue LED. The invention that earned its developers the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2014. From Wikipedia
Blue LED. The invention that earned its developers the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2014. From Wikipedia

The Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics to three researchers Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shoji Nakamura.

Akasaki worked with Amano at Nagoya University while Nakamura was employed by Nichiya as Michaels, a small company in Tokushima and now at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In the early nineties, the three succeeded in producing bright blue light rays with the help of semiconductors. They succeeded in making a fundamental revolution in lighting technology.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to them for developing an environmentally friendly and economical light source - the diodes emit blue LED light. In the spirit of Alfred Nobel's will to give the prizes to those who have made a great contribution to humanity. The use of blue LEDs makes it possible to create white light in a new way. With the advancement to LED bulbs, we now have a much longer life span and high energy efficiency that is a replacement for the old light sources.

Green and red LED lights have been known since the sixties, but without the blue light, it was not possible to create white light bulbs (a combination of the three colors).

Despite the tremendous efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED has remained a challenge for three decades. They succeeded where others failed. They developed a blue PN junction from the material gallium nitride (GaN).

Their invention was revolutionary, incandescent bulbs illuminated the 20th century, the 21st century will be the century of LED bulbs.

White LED bulbs emit white light, have a long lifespan and are energy efficient. The technology is still being developed to produce even brighter and more efficient bulbs in LUMEN units per watt. The record so far is just over 300 lumens per watt, compared to 16 for incandescent bulbs and 70 for fluorescent bulbs.

About a quarter of the electricity consumption is directed to lighting. The LED contributes to saving the earth's resources.
The LED bulbs are also replacing the fluorescent lighting that became for several years the most economical form of lighting, but it used mercury, which can now be disposed of.

Technological details - later today on the science website.

30 תגובות

  1. Mosheza
    Maybe you are right, but in practice, I have LED bulbs next to incandescent bulbs at home and there is no visible difference in the lighting.

  2. Regarding replacing the incandescent bulb, there is still no LED bulb with the same spectrum as the incandescent bulb

  3. Miracles,
    Nevertheless, it seems to me that you understand what I mean, and if I quote someone from the forum, here is the entire Torah on one leg:
    "I realised. I'm interested in why a microscope is chemistry, and those who dealt with chemical substances received a prize in physics"
    And I offered an environmental award.

    By the way, for the background radiation, the award is given twice, if I'm not mistaken (obviously not to the same people).

  4. Shmulik
    Merry Christmas

    Here is a quote from a translation of Alfred Nobel's will:
    The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.

    mankind – humanity. Everyone, not just those interested in physics. That is, (also) for the common man. Indeed, most Nobel prizes have been awarded to useful inventions.
    There are also exceptions, like the same Higgs who received the award only a year ago 🙂 Did you want him to receive the award twice for the same discovery?

  5. Miracles,
    Nowhere is it simply written, the award has already taken on a life of its own over the years (it is no longer awarded to discoveries from recent years because they want to verify reliability and importance) and I really need to explain why the Higgs confirmation is more impressive than the LED?
    I forgot to write in the previous comments: Happy Holidays!

  6. miracles, mouth,
    Ayo disputes that the invention is useful, beneficial to humanity, etc., but as blue and brilliant as it is, Helag pales in comparison to Higgs.

  7. MouthHole
    Exactly 🙂 I have bulbs like that at home and it's a different world. Does not burn, does not heat up and gives light just like an incandescent bulb. Much better than the PL lamps that pollute, turn on slowly and give light to the face...

    And don't forget all the billboards, and other similar uses.

  8. Miracles

    First of all the soccer world cup is a business for entertainment and the reason it is held is that it makes some people a lot of money. (and very little of this money goes to the teams)

    Most researchers in the world know very well that they will not win the Nobel Prize and I still don't think it hurts their motivation. A great many researchers specialize in researching unpopular fields that at a very high level of probability will not earn them a Nobel Prize. From a budgetary point of view, no researcher depends on a Nobel Prize or plans on it (there is no shortage of much larger grants (actually there are, but in a different sense)). Which leaves only prestige, which indeed interests some scientists (because prestige is indeed something that interests some people (and contrary to some perceptions, scientists are also people)). But in combination with all these things, the percentage of scientists who may be affected by the existence of a Nobel Prize is extremely small, so for the most part I don't think the prize has a great effect in pulling scientists forward (maybe once, but certainly not today)

    The contribution of the Nobel Prize is much greater in that for a minute and a half a year we are reminded in popular culture to refer to the existence of the contribution of scientists to the world. But it seems to me that it says much more about the sickness of our world than about the Nobel Prize.

    The popularity I'm talking about is not related to who is known to the general public. This is not the popularity I am talking about. I'm talking about intradiscipline popularity, and you're delusional if you think it doesn't exist.

  9. walking
    Imagine that in football there is no final, or semi-final. Let's say "Here are the 4 best teams in the world". True, it will hurt popularity, but it will also hurt the groups themselves.

    The same goes for the Nobel Prize. The uniqueness of the award draws the researchers forward, and this is the goal of whoever conceived the award.

    And regarding the popularity of the winners - everyone knows Hawking and Krauss and Tyson, but who knows Pensiaz or Greenberg? It seems to me that the award does not really cherish those who are very popular.

  10. Miracles

    I don't think I defamed, nor did I try to defame the Nobel Prize. I didn't say anywhere that the winners are undeserving. What I did say (and here you are probably the one not listening) is that the prize could have been given to a number of equally deserving people.
    What I'm saying is that there are worthy people (and studies) who have not won and will not win the prize, and this is no reason not to cherish and appreciate their work just because they did not win the prestige of winning the Nobel Prize (what it does, is indeed a popularity contest, exclusive, but still a popularity contest) .

  11. walking dead
    You don't listen, neither to me nor to Albenzo.
    In football only one team wins. There is a huge difference between first and second place, yet the win could be due to a wrong decision by a referee or a penalty kick. What you say does not belong to what I say.

    Someone who understands physics explains to you that the choice is very professional. I see no reason to doubt it.
    If you think there is a problem - please name a Nobel prize winner who did not deserve him (or her).

    Voters are people and they are sometimes not completely objective. that's how it is. But - I don't see anything to do with popularity. It is really a very well-known award, unlike the Fields Award or the Turing Award for example. If it bothers you - then praise these awards, but come on, don't slander the Nobel Prize...

  12. Miracles

    This is not true at all in the table football world cup. By definition, teams that do not deserve to win and have no chance of winning participate in the tournament.


    Maybe I'm wrong and recognize an over-importance that doesn't really exist. But technically speaking the award is definitely a popularity contest. Maybe you don't like the literal wording, and I understand why, but it's still true.

  13. There is no point in wasting any more words. You keep identifying anything that isn't completely objective with a "popularity contest" and that's ridiculous. You wrote " shouldn't be given so much importance" and this is also a pretty ridiculous claim, if you look at the list of studies that win the prize.

    The award, although it is not possible to determine by objective means which research is the most deserving of receiving it, is not a popularity contest, and must be given tremendous importance since it (among other things) recognizes for the general public the greatest and most amazing advances in our understanding of the world and our ability to build a society and a good life More with this understanding.

  14. walking dead
    What you say is true by definition.
    This is a special award given to a subset of those who deserve the award. This is also true for the soccer world cup...

  15. elbentzo

    If we continue with the previous analogy also in a beauty contest, the winner is the one identified by a committee of experts as beautiful enough.
    The popularity is not necessarily on a personal human basis but can also be the popularity of the domain or sub-domain. You yourself said that: "The decision on the winner is made based on the recommendations of the major experts in the field." It is, by definition, popularity. Scientists are people too and they are not immune to popularity.

    I didn't say he was unimportant. But the other side of the coin is that the general public, who do not know and live in the world of science, are impressed, either because of the prestige of the award or because it is about the only award related to science that reaches the popular media, that there is something particularly unusual here, when the award could have been given just as well A number of other people deserve no less.

  16. Miracles,

    You're right. Not talking about the Nobel Peace Prize at all. By the way, it was given by another committee and whoever wins it is not allowed to call himself a nobel prize laureate but only a nobel peace prize laureate.

    walking death, I still completely disagree. A "popularity contest" is a contest where the winner wins based on popularity. The Nobel Prize (again, I speak from knowledge only of physics) is awarded to whoever is identified by a committee of expert physicists as having the most significant contribution to the study of physics and its advancement for the benefit of humanity. It has nothing to do with popularity. The Nobel Prize can be won (and has been won in the past) also by super unpopular people, for example Nazis, and there are super popular people (both personally and professionally) who have never won and probably will not win a Nobel Prize. The fact that the index is not objective or quantitative does not make the award a "popularity contest", and certainly not something unimportant. The people who hold the Nobel Prize in Physics are people who have changed the science of physics, and often our lives, in a tremendous way.

  17. elbentzo

    I agree with you about the false impression that may be interpreted from my words, but even in order to win a beauty contest, one must go through a screening process, and this still does not make the contest a popularity contest, no matter how high the level of initial screening is.

  18. walking dead,

    Really really not. It is true that there are no absolute and objective standards to decide who wins, but it is not a popularity contest at all. The nominated studies pass the most rigorous examinations and the decision on the winner is made based on the recommendations of the major experts in the field. I can only testify from the field of physics, but in this field I have never come across a Nobel Prize-winning fact that was not an outstanding and one-of-a-kind achievement. The expression "popularity contest" gives the impression that a Nobel Prize can be won even on the basis of research that is not groundbreaking but on the basis of correct public relations, which is absolutely not the case (at least in physics, and I have the feeling that it is the same in other fields as well).

  19. Herzl,

    You have several mistakes. First, last year no dead person received a Nobel Prize. The prize was shared between Peter Higgs and Francois Engler, both of whom are still with us.

    Second, how do theoretical physicists and others receive Nobel Prizes, in a more or less equal amount to experimentalists.

    Thirdly, although it is true that a Nobel Prize is not awarded to a theoretical work before it has been tested in a laboratory and found to be correct, when this happens and the prize is awarded - it is awarded to the theoretician and not to the experimenter who verified the theory. Again we return to last year's example - those who received the Nobel are only Higgs and Engler, the theorists who thought about and developed the theory of the Higgs boson. No experimenter and no CERN member shared the prize with them.

  20. Miracles,
    I'm not saying you're wrong, but the year before you the award was given to Higgs and the comparison makes this year's award pale. The Nobel is the proper stamp for the massive intellectual enterprise that is the standard model of which the Higgs was the last piece and this year we gave the prize to teach blue. Important, contributes to humanity but it is not the Higgs.
    In short, not suitable

  21. Unfortunately, there are major distortions in the Nobel Prize. For example - the award was originally intended for brilliant young scientists who would be able to research independently of budgets. So last year one dead scientist got the prize, the average age is over 70 (is there a statistic?) and Higgs got the prize after 40 years of research. To the best of my memory, Nakamura invented (both theoretically and practically built) the blue LED about 20 years ago.
    In a few cases, the prize is given according to Nobel's intention quickly (within 5-6 years) to young scientists, such as the prize for the invention of the scanning microscope (proper engineering, but enabled innovative research) and the creation of a gas condensate cone (a very complicated engineering problem, with many physical sub-problems) ).
    In theoretical physics, Nobel prizes are not awarded (as far as I know, there may be exceptional cases). The theoreticians receive the award only after the experimentalists have performed an experiment that proves the theory. So if the theoretician is still alive (Higgs) the prize is given to him too, otherwise only the experimentalists receive.

  22. Shmulik
    Note his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the "greatest benefit on mankind"

    This is Alfred Nobel's request in his will. String theory really didn't interest him... He wanted the prize to be used to encourage practical uses.

  23. Miracles,
    The award should be given for "contributed the most important discovery or invention in the field of physics".
    Is a blue LED the most important invention or discovery in the field of physics? Well?
    Maybe as a Nobel Prize for environmental science.

  24. Shmulik
    The Nobel Prize is for those who contribute the most to humanity, not those who have advanced science or human knowledge.
    This is also why there is no Nobel Prize in mathematics.

  25. Forgive me, the little one, for the lack of a Nobel Prize or some kind of prize in physics, but it seems to me that the Nobel Prize is not for such developments.
    Was there theoretical progress here or did they "just" solve a complicated engineering problem?
    Is there no work more deserving of the Nobel Prize? What will they do next year if no dark matter is found?
    Israel The world is waiting for the long photons?

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