The Millennium Technology Prize

A major prize and there is a cash award of 1M EU so it isn't just some nice feel-good bit of publicity.

The prize comes from Finland, is awarded every two years and this is their second prize. The first one (2004) was Dr. Tim Berners-Lee (like duuuhhh???) This year it is Professor Shuji Nakamura. Who? Dr. Nakamura invented the Blue LED, a blue LASER diode, and the first white LED. From the Millenium Prize website:

Millennium Technology Prize winner Professor Shuji Nakamura and his work
Professor Shuji Nakamura is one of the most significant inventors of our time. In 1993, he stunned the optoelectronic community with the announcement of very-bright blue GaN-based light emitting diodes (LEDs). In rapid succession, he then announced a green GaN-based LED, a blue laser diode, and a white LED. All these developments were things that other researchers in the semiconductor field had spent decades trying to do.

Professor Nakamura's story is unique. Born in 1954 in Japan on the island called Shikoku, he received his master's degree in 1979 at the University of Tokushima. He started his scientific and technological career outside mainstream Japanese technology, working as an engineer at Nichia Chemical, a small phosphor company in the countryside.

At Nichia Chemical's laboratory, with only a limited budget and modest support from company management, Nakamura developed a highly-original two-flow growth system which led to the successful epitaxial growth of gallium nitride (GaN) in 1989. Three years later, he managed to produce p-type GaN, a fundamental breakthrough in III-V nitride research. Since the beginning of research into GaN almost three decades earlier, no-one had been able to create this particular compound.

In 1993, to universal surprise, Nakamura demonstrated bright-blue LEDs. Two years later he announced a green GaN-based LED, a blue laser diode, and a white LED. Professor Nakamura patented his innovations.

I remember the 1993 announcement very well -- people Geeks were salivating at the idea of other LED colors than red and infrared and then out of some "backwater" company in Japan comes verifiable proof of blue, bright bright blue, stable and on demand. And then, frickin' Blue LASERS! Professor Nakamura gets a Million Euros for the prize money but I hope he already has a nice nest egg, he should for all the wonderful work he has done.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on June 18, 2006 10:31 PM.

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