• Kyodo


The three Japan-born physicists awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physics have been speaking in Stockholm about their work and how they succeeded in developing the blue light-emitting diode, the breakthrough that led to the white LEDs now commonly used worldwide.

They delivered lectures Monday at Stockholm University. On Wednesday they will attend the Nobel awards ceremony.

The LED’s development involved “much trial and error,” said Isamu Akasaki, 85, a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya. He collaborated in the work with fellow Nobel laureate Hiroshi Amano, a professor at Nagoya University.

In 1985, Amano produced a long-awaited clear, colorless crystal, one of the key materials for LEDs.

“It was simply unforgettable,” Akasaki said, recalling the moment. “It was something that I had dreamed of realizing ever since 1973,” he added, referring to the year he began the research.

Amano, 54, said in his lecture that he was “very, very lucky” that he could make such major progress when he was still only in his 20s, under Akasaki’s excellent supervision.

“I’d like to see the young generation try and tackle . . . more difficult subjects for the contribution of the improvement of mankind’s lifestyle,” Amano said.

He added that conditions for funding and facilities these days are “much better” than when he was starting out.

The third Nobel laureate, Shuji Nakamura, 60, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was born in Japan and later acquired U.S. citizenship, said the invention of blue LEDs is contributing to a sharp cut in energy consumption.

Nakamura said he is now working on the development of high-quality laser lighting for very small lighting products in the future. He predicted that in the 22nd century laser light will be used widely.

“Laser lighting could replace all of conventional LED lighting in the future, in order to reduce costs, in order to increase efficiency further,” Nakamura said.

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