Winner of The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014
Friday, January 16, 2015, 10:00 - 11:00
Shuji Nakamura's path to a Nobel Prize must be one of the most unusual in the history of the award. Holding only a master's degree and working at a small manufacturer of phosphors in rural Shikoku he took on a technological challenge that had stymied legions of top researchers in academia and industry around the world: the development of a blue light-emitting diode (LED). LEDs in other colors had been around for decades. But without a blue LED there was no way to create white light which would be necessary for general purpose lighting. Nakamura built on earlier work by two other Japanese researchers--Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano who were working together at Nagoya University--and in 1993 produced an LED emitting very bright, very blue light. The trio shared last year's Nobel Prize for Physics for this accomplishment.
Nakamura later had a falling out with his employer and sued for a share of the profits the company earned from his invention. He also moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara, and later became an American citizen. In interviews and press conferences (including one at the FCCJ) after settling his suit in 2005, Nakamura blasted Japan's courts, educational system, and treatment of researchers. "Basically, Japanese society doesn't value the contributions of individuals," he said.
This will be Nakamura's third appearance at the FCCJ. At this press conference he will discuss his own path to a Nobel prize and his current take on Japan's research environment.