William Gould Dow Distinguished Lecture
Road Toward the New Light: The Invention of High Efficient Blue LEDs and Future Lighting
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During the 1970’s and 80’s, efficient blue and green light-emitting diodes (LED’s) were the last missing elements for solid state
display and lighting technologies due to the lack of suitable materials. By that time, III-nitride alloys were regarded
as the least possible candidates due to various “impossible” difficulties. However, a series of unexpected breakthroughs
in the 1990’s totally changed people’s perspectives, and in 1993, the first high efficient blue LEDs were invented and
commercialized. III-nitride-based LEDs have become the most widely used light source in many applications. LED light
bulbs are more than ten times as efficient as incandescent bulbs, and they last for 50 years! At their current adoption rates,
by 2020, LEDs can reduce the world’s need for electricity by the equivalent of nearly 60 nuclear power plants. In this talk, the
history of the invention of the blue LED and the future of lighting will be described.
Professor Shuji Nakamura is the 2014 Nobel Laureate in Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes,
which have enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources. He was born on May 22, 1954 in Ehime, Japan, and
obtained B.E., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tokushima, Japan in 1977, 1979,
and 1994, respectively. He joined Nichia Chemical Industries Ltd. in 1979. In 1989, he started the research of blue LEDs
using group-III nitride materials. In 1993 and 1995, he developed the first group-III nitride-based blue/green LEDs. He also
developed the first group-III nitride-based violet laser diodes (LDs) in 1995.
Since 2000, he has been a professor of Materials Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of
California, Santa Barbara. Prof. Nakamura is the Research Director of the Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center and
The Cree Chair in Solid State Lighting & Displays. He holds more than 200 U.S. and 300 Japanese patents, and has published
more than 550 articles. He co-founded Soraa, Inc. in 2008, which operates vertically integrated fabrication facilities in Silicon
Valley and Santa Barbara, CA.