LONDON The Inamori Foundation (Kyoto, Japan) has presented its 25th annual Kyoto Prize for technology, which includes a gift of about $550,000, to semiconductor scientist Isamu Akasaki for his work developing the blue light emitting diode.
| Professor Isamu Akasaki|
of Nagoya and Meijo universities
Akasaki is a professor at Nagoya University and at Meijo University in Japan.
The Kyoto Prize is Japan's highest private award for global achievement, honoring significant contributions to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of humankind.
The laureates in the three categories each received a diploma, a 20-karat-gold Kyoto Prize medal, and a cash gift totaling 50 million yen (about $550,000) per prize category.
In his efforts to develop the blue LED, once regarded as technologically impossible, Professor Akasaki conducted decades-long research on gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors. He persisted after other researchers had given up and eventually created p-n junctions in GaN, making the blue LED practically possible for the first time in history. This achievement stimulated research on blue LEDs worldwide, and served as the first step toward their eventual commercialization in the 1990s.
Blue LEDs are already used in a wide variety of applications including display backlights, outdoor displays and signage and automobile lights. The advent of blue semiconductor lasers increased the capacity of optical recording media, such as Blu-ray discs. Blue LEDs are also being adopted for use in general-purpose lighting. Therefore Professor Akasaki's research has also enabled progress in reducing power consumption and protecting the environment, as LEDs are more efficient than incandescent and fluorescent lighting that it may come to replace.
The other 2009 Kyoto Prize recipients are Pierre Boulez, 84, the world-renowned composer and conductor, and Drs. Peter and Rosemary Grant, evolutionary biologists and professors emeriti at Princeton University, and the first husband-and-wife team to receive the Kyoto Prize.
The laureates will reconvene in San Diego, Calif., April 20 to 22, 2010, for the ninth annual Kyoto Prize Symposium. For three days, the symposium will allow an international audience to learn about the latest Kyoto Prize laureates and participate in public presentations.
Related links and articles:
Mitsubishi deal brings professor's LED patent haul to $27 million
LED use to grow outdoors, behind screens, says report
Startup claims to offer better gallium-nitride wafers
IQE buys GaN startup NanoGaN