Nobel Committee Recognizes Inventors of Blue LED

Nobel Committee Recognizes Inventors of Blue LED

I want to congratulate the Nobel Committee for recognizing the inventors of the Blue LED - a truly transformative technology. As an engineer working with machine vision systems I have been using LED lighting longer than most people. LEDs are great for their brightness, strobing capabilities, and consistent intensity over a long product life.

The first time I saw a blue LED was in a trade show in 1998. One booth of lighting equipment has a light that was a brilliant deep blue. I asked the man about the product, and he said the blue LEDs were just out, and cost him $15 each. His small light product had hundreds of them - hand soldered in a solid square pattern. 

Today, blue LEDs can be found everywhere. In our homes and businesses, white LED lighting is becoming more popular as the most efficient form or architectural lighting. White LED products actually work by placing blue or ultraviolet LEDs behind white phosphorescent materials. We are more likely to see blue LEDs in their raw form as part of today's brilliant outdoor advertising signs and stadium displays.

In machine vision, we use blue LEDs as general purpose lighting for monochrome systems. In 20 years since their invention, blue LEDs are twice as bright as any other color. We also use blue LEDs in combination with red and green to create balanced lighting that can appear white, or about any other color. The same technology is also used in the multi-color mood lighting of my car. 

Because blue light has a shorter wavelength than other visible light, it makes clear images in microscopic and medical imaging. In that field, blue, or multi-color light sources including blue have largely replaced incandescent light sources with color filters.

It took 30 years from the commercial production of the first red LEDs to the production of the first blue LEDs. And during that time the importance of blue was not lost on anyone in the industry.  It obviously took great skill and dedication to make this leap which we all now benefit from.

So, thank you to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura for your invention and congratulations on your prize.



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