2014 Physics Nobel Prize Goes to Blue LED Creators

2014 Physics Nobel Prize Goes to Blue LED Creators

Blue LED 310x

That fancy LED light you just installed in your bathroom? You can thank Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura for that.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has announced the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the lucky team is the trio behind the blue LED (Light-Emitting Diode).

Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura (I really just want to call them The Firm of Akasaki Amano and Nakamura) are the award recipients, and their work goes all the way back to a time before Coke Zero and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: 1994.

Nakamura was the man behind the first high-brightness blue LED, first demonstrated in 1994. However his work would not have been possible without LED and semiconductor breakthroughs made by Akasaki and Amano several years before, both of whom were critical in getting Gallium nitride (GaN) to behave in a way that would allow for a bright blue LED. Gallium nitride is the binary semiconductor present in the majority of LEDs, and the key to acceptable brightness was to introduce p-type semiconductor doping into the LED creation process (more on that here).

The blue LED has actually existed in one form or another since the early 70s, but the technology behind early models did not allow for a commercially-friendly brightness level.

So why is the blue LED so important? Red and green LEDs had existed for years before Nakamura got the bright blue LED going -- LED tech goes all the way back to 1927, in fact. But without a blue LED of the same brightness, a white LED (or LED light) would not be possible. In other words? No blue LED means no LED backlight on your TV or PC, no LED lights in your house, and so on.

Once the blue LED was properly achieved, white LED lights were possible, which brings us to the LED craze we know today. Beyond your 50-inch LED-backlit HDTV, you're probably starting to outfit your home with LED lights right about now. These lights are a key component in reducing energy usage, as most LED bulbs use under 17W of power (as opposed to your average 60W incandescent bulb). They also last several times longer than incandescent bulbs, and remain cool to the touch (slightly warm instead of melting your skin off, at least).

I used LED 25 times in this post, this sentence included.

Source: Nobel Prize PR
Image Credit: HacknMod

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LED certainly stands out in the post. I wonder if it would be as noticeable in spoken form?

OT: Good for them, I know my room is quite a bit cooler(temperature) thanks to those advancements in LED tech.

And I bet GE is shaking their fist screaming "Damn them!" for basically ruining their racketeering scheme of selling tons of light bulbs that blew out all the time......

"I used LED 25 times in this post, this sentence included."

That made me llol.

I will not doubt that LED's are an insanely useful piece of modern technology, but there are times when it's inappropriate.

In the crazy to replace outdated light bulbs with the low-power appeal of LED's, we forgot the other main output for standard lightbulbs: heat. Because of that, some cities who have replaced street lamps with LED's found out the hard way that the old bulbs and their energy-sucking ways were actually keeping snow from building up on top of them, which I'm sure you can imagine how disastrous that can be.

On a smaller scale, this issue can arise in fancy new cars that use LED's for their daytime running lights, although that's not a huge issue when you live in a city where the average driver is well over the age of 40 and somehow believes that having your daytime running lights on during the daytime is a waste of energy.

Deathfish15:
And I bet GE is shaking their fist screaming "Damn them!" for basically ruining their racketeering scheme of selling tons of light bulbs that blew out all the time......

Hear hear!

The best thing about LEDs, to me, is that there's no stress put on them when they're initially turned on. Incandescent bulbs get a shock from the sudden surge of power going through them, and fluorescent tubes have "starters" that wear out over time. (Indeed, a fluorescent light is more likely to stop working because its starter died than because of any actual "burnout".) A big reason why LEDs started getting used as indicator lights in electronics is because they're well suited to cycling on and off repeatedly. Ever notice that the lights in your car don't really flash so much as fade in and out? That's because they have dimmer circuitry installed to reduce the stress on the filament and keep them from burning out way too soon. Traffic lights did this too. To me, it's still a little jarring to be on the road and see a car's taillights just pop on instantly.

What's this? One of the guys from the other article getting recognition when he really deserved it. I'm very happy with this.

Fun fact: White LEDs are usually Blue (or UV) LEDs that have a phosphorous coating in it the make near-white light (why most of them for a long time looked kinda blue (especially cheapos, I got dozens of them from scavenging old lights), also that make them tiny fluorescent lights, by definition). Coatings are getting better, so warm white color temp bulbs and LED back lit monitors can be made. The other, more obvious way is just combining red, blue and green light from individual LEDs. (All televisions, except projectors/projection TVs with prisms or color wheels, from CRT to Plasma and LCD to direct LED screens work off this principle.)

Blue LED's were just invented in 2014? What? Am I reading this correctly?

I count 27 times (You also used it in the headline and in "installed") :D

A well deserved prize, in my opinion.

Arnoxthe1:
Blue LED's were just invented in 2014? What? Am I reading this correctly?

No, if you actually read the article you would have realized that it stated that the blue LED was first invented in 1994, and that the 3 people responsible for the invention are simply being recognized this year. I put blue LEDs in my mom's new computer back in 2010 (when her computer was new, that is.)

MorganL4:

Arnoxthe1:
Blue LED's were just invented in 2014? What? Am I reading this correctly?

No, if you actually read the article you would have realized that it stated that the blue LED was first invented in 1994, and that the 3 people responsible for the invention are simply being recognized this year. I put blue LEDs in my mom's new computer back in 2010 (when her computer was new, that is.)

Sorry about that. Still though. There's too many inventions from the past that need to be recognized. I don't know why they decided to do just this one. I think it's kind of silly.

LEDs are awesome. lasts forever, uses so little electricity you may as well keep them on forever and still use less energy and does not produce heat whitch was a massive danger factor in places with low ceilings and confined spaces. The guy certainly deservs the Nobel Prize.

Hairless Mammoth:
Coatings are getting better, so warm white color temp bulbs and LED back lit monitors can be made.

you mean worse. i cant stand the piss colored light most lightbulbs make. LEDs are awesome in that they are actually white instead of yellow. Color balance and all that shit.

Arnoxthe1:

MorganL4:

Arnoxthe1:
Blue LED's were just invented in 2014? What? Am I reading this correctly?

No, if you actually read the article you would have realized that it stated that the blue LED was first invented in 1994, and that the 3 people responsible for the invention are simply being recognized this year. I put blue LEDs in my mom's new computer back in 2010 (when her computer was new, that is.)

Sorry about that. Still though. There's too many inventions from the past that need to be recognized. I don't know why they decided to do just this one. I think it's kind of silly.

Because its relevant as its just started entering many homes internationally?

Arnoxthe1:

MorganL4:

Arnoxthe1:
Blue LED's were just invented in 2014? What? Am I reading this correctly?

No, if you actually read the article you would have realized that it stated that the blue LED was first invented in 1994, and that the 3 people responsible for the invention are simply being recognized this year. I put blue LEDs in my mom's new computer back in 2010 (when her computer was new, that is.)

Sorry about that. Still though. There's too many inventions from the past that need to be recognized. I don't know why they decided to do just this one. I think it's kind of silly.

Because that's how Nobel Prizes work? They award one a year in each field to people who've done something valuable/worthwhile in that field (at least the Science ones do, stuff like the Peace Prize seems kinda bullshit to me), usually about twenty years after the discovery was made.

Only LEDs in this house are in the best torch in the house. Thank you, inventors of the blue LED.

 

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