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Japanese researchers win Nobel for inventing the "revolutionary" LED lamp

The LED has helped in the fight against global warming and also helps people in poverty.

Japanese inventor Shuji Nakamura, professor at the University of California
Japanese inventor Shuji Nakamura, professor at the University of California
Image: AP

THREE JAPANESE-BORN researchers have won the Nobel Prize for Physics for inventing the LED lamp, a boon in the fight against global warming and aiding people in poverty.

The trio are Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, a researcher who is currently based in the United States.

“This year’s Nobel Laureates are rewarded for having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source — the blue light-emitting diode (LED),” the jury said.

“Their inventions were revolutionary.”

“Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”

The three researchers produced bright blue light beams from semiconductors in the early 1990s, triggering a fundamental transformation of lighting technology, according to the jury.

Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created.

Devising the blue LED was a challenge that endured for three decades.

“They succeeded where everyone else had failed,” the jury said.

It added: “With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.”

LED lights

LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and use far less energy compared with the incandescent lightbulb pioneered by Thomas Edison in the 19th century.

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Because they have very low electricity needs, LED lights can be connected to cheap, local solar power — a benefit for the more than 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to the electricity grid.

The winners will share the prize sum of eight million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, €883,000).

Last year the award went to Peter Higgs of Britain and Francois Englert of Belgium for the discovery of the “God particle”, the sub-atomic Higgs boson which gives mass to other elementary particles.

In line with tradition, the laureates will receive their prize at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

- © AFP, 2014

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