Two scientists at Nagoya University in Japan and one scientist from the University of California at Santa Barbara have been award this year’s Noble Prize in Physics. The group claimed the prize for inventing the modern-day LED light.
LED lights were given the coveted prize because of their ability to save on energy, last longer than traditional lights, and in general create a more environmentally-friendly product that does not contain mercury.
According to the award committee they, “hold great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids.”
The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for their invention of the blue light emitting diode.
While red and green diodes have been around for years, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the team of researchers developed the blue diode. Scientists from around the globe had spent more than 30 years attempting to build the blue diode. The committee explains, “They triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. They succeeded where everyone else failed.”
Staffan Normark, permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said that Nakamura and Akasaki were thrilled to claim the top prize. “I think they were not prepared for it. They had not been waiting up all day and all night for this call,” he said.
The three winners will split a prize of 8 million Swedish kronor or $1.2 million million U.S. dollars.
This years Noble Prize is probably a lot easier for non-scientists to understand than last years prize winner. In 2013 the Noble Prize in Physics went to Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of the United Kingdom for the theory of how particles acquire mass.
Later this week the Nobel prizes in chemistry, literature and economic sciences will be announced. Likely to have the largest impact though will be the Nobel Peace Prize.