Congratulatory Address to
Drs. Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura
for Winning the Nobel Prize in Physics

I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate Dr. Isamu Akasaki, Professor at Meijo University, Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University, Dr. Hiroshi Amano, Professor at Nagoya University, and Dr. Shuji Nakamura, Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics 2014.

They won the prize for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources. Dr. Akasaki, Dr. Amano and Dr. Nakamura worked to elaborate the growth technology for high-quality gallium nitride (GaN), which most researchers considered very difficult at that time, and eventually actualized the blue LEDs, realization of which has been regarded impossible by the end of 20th century.

Thanks to their achievements a way to implementation and practical application of the blue LEDs has been opened up, leading to big innovation, which is probably why it has been highly acclaimed.

Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) has funded Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. since the 1986 fiscal year in their work translating basic research achievements into practical applications through our academic-industrial alliance program. This support brought about the commercialization of blue light-emitting diodes, which was achieved in 1995.

Blue LED displays have superior properties of higher brightness, lower power-consumption, lighter weight, and longer life compared with traditional displays such as fluorescent tubes. White LEDs have also developed as an application of blue LEDs and are widely used, for example in the backlighting of smartphone displays and LED illuminations, etc., significantly contributing to power saving.

Moreover, application of the gallium nitride semiconductor is expanding into the research field of power semiconductors, which control and supply electric power, and which are expected to lead to greater energy conservation and smart grid technologies.

The achievements of Drs. Akasaki, Amano, and Nakamura have contributed an indispensable technology for green innovation in the 21st century. It is also a great pleasure for us at JST that our funding has contributed to such a notable achievement.

The fact that three Japanese scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Physics this year, following Dr. Shinya Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012, bears witness to the fact that Japanese research and development leads the world in a wide range of fields.

I would like to heartily congratulate Drs. Akasaki, Amano, and Nakamura for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics 2014, and would like to promise that JST will continue to further strengthen its efforts to contribute to the advancement of science and technology in Japan.

October 7, 2014
Michiharu Nakamura, Ph.D.
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)

Relationship between JST and the Nobel laureates

Dr. Akasaki launched the “Manufacturing technology of GaN-based blue light emitting diodes” project in the Contract Development program that was promoted by the Research Development Corporation of Japan (JRDC)—a predecessor of JST—in the 1986 fiscal year, after he succeeded in creating high-quality, single-crystalline GaN films. The project aimed at realization of practical applications of blue LEDs in collaboration with Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. (Kiyosu, Aichi Pref.), and lasted five years. Dr. Akasaki accomplished this aim in the project.

Subsequently, Dr. Akasaki and Dr. Amano conducted the “Manufacturing technology of GaN short wave semiconductor laser” project in the Contract Development program from 1993 to 2001. This project was aimed at realizing practical applications of GaN short wave semiconductor lasers, again with Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. In addition to Dr. Akasaki's and Dr. Amano’s achievement of GaN semiconductors by Mg-doping, said project also led to the application of the GaN short wave semiconductor laser in producing a blue-violet semiconductor laser, and the resulting commercialization of the laser as a light source in Blue-ray Disc technology which is now so familiar in our everyday lives.

Dr. Nakamura took on the role of research director in the “NAKAMURA Inhomogeneous Crystal project” in JST’s Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) research funding program in October 2001. In this project—which was completed in September 2006, he achieved a great result that will lead to next-generation light-emitting devices including non-polar gallium nitride materials.