This month, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for the invention of “efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources”.
Why is the creation of the blue LED a significant achievement worth the Nobel Prize? Essentially, these three scientists figured out how to grow gallium nitride, which enables blue LEDs to be produced. When you add red and green LEDs to blue LEDs, or when a blue LED is coated with a phosphor, you create white light. White light made the LED light bulb possible and is the very reason that energy efficient lighting exists today. As the Nobel Committee stated, “Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th Century; the 21st Century will be lit by LED lamps”.