The Optical Society Congratulates OSA Member Hiroshi Amano and Colleagues for Winning Nobel Prize in


Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society

The Optical Society Congratulates OSA Member Hiroshi Amano and Colleagues for Winning Nobel Prize in Physics

Two Japanese, one American honored for their invention of efficient blue LEDs

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014—The Optical Society (OSA) today congratulated OSA Member Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University, Japan, along with Isamu Akasaki of Nagoya University and Meijo University, Japan, and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, for being awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. The trio received the award “for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.” Amano joins 32 other OSA members who have been awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry or Physiology/Medicine over the course of OSA’s nearly 100-year history.

“Lighting accounts for approximately one-quarter of all electricity consumption in industrialized nations,” said OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan. “The invention of blue LEDs has led to new lighting solutions that will have a significant impact on energy efficiency and the potential to reduce electricity consumption on a large scale over time.  How very fitting that on the cusp of the 2015 International Year of Light, the Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded for this critical light-based technology. Congratulations to Drs. Amano, Akasaki and Nakamura for this well-deserved honor.”

While red LEDs have been around for some time, the invention of the blue LED more than 30 years later, in combination with suitable phosphors, enabled the generation of a useful, energy-efficient white light source.  More recently, green LEDs have been developed, which, when combined with red and blue ones, produce very high-color-quality white light.  Both phosphor-based and tri-color LED lamps are used today.

According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, “When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semiconductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades. They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”

Today’s LED lamps are  several times more efficient than common fluorescent lamps and last up to 100,000 hours—100 times longer than incandescent blubs and 10 times longer than fluorescent lights.  LEDs also hold promise for use in the developing world due to their low-power requirements and their compatibility with solar power.

Amano, Akasaki and Nakamura are all professors at their respective universities. Amano has served on program committees for OSA sponsored and co-sponsored meetings, including CLEO in 2008 and the OSA Solid-State and Organic Lighting (SOLED) meeting in 2010 and 2011. Nakamura won OSA’s Nick Holonyak Jr. Award in 2001 "for original demonstration and commercialization of GaN-based semiconductor lasers and LEDs." He was also a plenary session speaker at CLEO in 2005. Collectively, all three 2014 Laureates have published more than 20 papers in OSA’s journals and conference proceedings.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences annually bestows this prestigious award upon those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics. The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony takes place Dec. 10, where His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will present the honor to Amano, Akasaki, Nakamura and the other 2014 Laureates.

About OSA
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. OSA is a founding partner of the National Photonics Initiative and the 2015 International Year of Light. For more information, visit