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Nobel Prize awarded to creators of fascinating blue LEDs

The 2014 Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to a trio of scientists from Japan and the US for the invention of blue light emitting diodes (LEDs). The announcement was made at a press conference in Sweden. These three — Professor Hiroshi Amano, Shuji Nakamura and Isamu Akasaki — made the first LED lights in the early 1990s. The prize money of 8-million Kronor will be split amongst the three. The three also join a prestigious list of 196 other Physics laureates that have been recognised since 1901.

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Blue LEDs? What’s the fuss?

About 20% of the world’s electricity is used for lighting and through research it has been calculated that blue LEDs can reduce this number to 4%, which would be a massive achievement. This reduction is due blue LED’s abaility to convert electricity directly into photons of light instead of the mixture of light and heat that traditional bulbs generate.

According to the Energy Information Administration the blue LEDs last 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs do.

The Nobel Jury, whilst making the announcement, emphasised the benefits of the invention, stating that it is “the greatest benefit to mankind”.

“These uses are what would make Alfred Nobel very happy,” Prof Olle Inganas, a member of the prize committee from Linkoping University, tells the BBC.

The committee chair, Professor Per Delsing, from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, emphasised the winners’ dedication.

“What’s fascinating is that a lot of big companies really tried to do this and they failed,” he said. “But these guys persisted and they tried and tried again – and eventually they actually succeeded.

The long awaited invention of blue light emitting LEDs is changing the way in which offices and homes are lit. It is time to move on from the original incandescent bulbs that Thomas Edison pioneered.

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