The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2014 was awarded to Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, for “the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.”
The Nobel committee said that light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, would be the lighting source of the 21st century, just as the incandescent bulb illuminated the 20th.
The academy said that the new light source is brighter, cleaner and longer-lasting than previous sources and would save energy as well as improve the quality of life of millions of people around the world.
They will split a prize of $1.1 million, to be awarded in Stockholm on Dec. 10.
Dr. Akasaki, 85, of Meijo University and Nagoya University, and Dr. Amano, 54, of Nagoya University, are Japanese citizens. Dr. Nakamura, 60, is an American citizen. Awakened at 3 a.m. his time by a phone call from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Dr. Nakamura described the news as “unbelievable.”
In remarks accompanying the presentation, the academy recalled Alfred Nobel’s desire that his prize be awarded for something that benefited humankind, noting that one-fourth of the world’s electrical energy consumption goes to producing light. This, it said, was a prize more for invention than discovery.