Shuji Nakamura – Blue LED

Shuji Nakamura

Credit: Randall Lamb

Shuji Nakamura

Soraa | The World’s Most Advanced LED Bulbs

“Breakthrough are born out of unusual circumstances.” – Shuji Nakamura

Some of the most extraordinary things come in small packages. Inventor Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists (Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano), proved that theory to be true when they developed the blue light-emitting diode in 1992. This innovation allowed for further advancements such as the white LED light, which revolutionized technology in various ways. Lighting is now more efficient, energy costs are lower and light pollution has been reduced. LEDs have improved existing products like flat screen TVs, headlights, street lights and more. Not only that, but white LEDs, can be charged using solar power, which enables those in regions without electricity to light their homes. In 2014, these advances were recognized when Shuji Nakamura and his fellow scientists won the Nobel Prize for physics.

Shuji Nakamura was born May 22nd, 1954 in Ikata, Ehime, Japan. Nakamura’s father worked as a maintenance man for Shikoku Electric Power and taught Shuji how to build toys, an innocent skill that would later benefit his professional career. As a boy, Nakamura had little love for academics, his passion throughout his school years was volleyball. He later dreamed of becoming a physicist or mathematician, but his poor entrance exam results denied him access to prestigious schools. In 1973, he began studying electrical engineering at Tokushima University.

In his third year, Nakamura attended a lecture on semiconductors, an experience that persuaded him to stay at the university and obtain a master’s under Professor Osamu Tada. Spending hours in Professor Tada’s lab, nicknamed the “Junk Room,” Nakamura played with old televisions and other electrical devices. Tada later introduced Nakamura to Nobuo Ogawa, the founder and president of Nichia, a chemical engineering firm. It wasn’t until several failed attempts that Nakamura was given the funding to begin his blue light-emitting diode research. The majority of the financing went towards specialty equipment and general upkeep of his lab. Even with steady ridicule from younger researchers who doubted his contributions to Nichia, Nakamura continued working twelve hour days. Victory finally came in the early ‘90s when Nakamura put all the remaining pieces together, and the blue light-emitting diode was born.

Shuji Nakamura, a man once seen as an under-dog in his field, brought new meaning to the way we live our lives. The technology he helped create continues to grow, and consistent strides are being made to build even better, more sustainable light sources. Shuji Nakamura has shown us that our dreams not only change how we see the world, but also can change how others experience it. Nakamura founded Soraa, a company dedicated to producing affordable, energy-efficient light bulbs all while molding the minds of the future engineers of the world at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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» Read our article on the properties of LED lighting for more information.