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Inventor of blue LED lights wins at IET Achievement Awards

15 November 2017


The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has today named the winners of its 2017 Achievement Awards.  One of this year’s most significant awards, the Mountbatten Medal, goes to Nobel Prize winner Professor Shuji Nakamura for his pioneering work to develop blue LEDs and lasers.

The IET Achievement Awards exist to recognise individuals from all over the world who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of engineering, technology and science in any sector. This can be through research and development in their respective technical field or through their leadership of an enterprise.

Professor Nakamura used novel InGaN growth processes to enable the commercialisation of blue LEDs as high efficiency, low power light sources, to which he holds the patent. He was also the first to demonstrate group III nitride based high brightness blue/green LEDs and violet laser diodes. His LED inventions have been used for multiple applications, including TV and mobile phone screens, due to their lower energy consumption, and enabled the development of the Blu-ray DVD.

Nick Winser, IET President, said: “Professor Nakamura’s inventions have resulted in highly successful commercial LEDs, that not only save considerable energy consumption, but have revolutionised new technology such as the Blu-ray disk. It is our pleasure to recognise him as our Mountbatten Medal winner for his outstanding contribution to technological innovation.”

Professor Nakamura, said: “It is my great honour to receive the Mountbatten Medal. Since the invention of the blue LED in 1993, many researchers joined the field and created many applications for solid state lighting such as mobile phone screens, LED TV, and large displays. But the application with the greatest impact to the world’s energy consumption is that of general illumination, recognizing that one quarter of all the world’s electricity is used for lighting.

“LED Light bulbs are more than ten times efficient than incandescent bulb, and they last for 50 years!  At their current adoption rates, by 2020 LEDs can reduce the world’s need for electricity by the equivalent of nearly 60 nuclear power plants. I hope that the invention of blue LED could contribute to overcome the global warming issues."

The IET’s Mountbatten Medal was established by the National Electronics Council in 1992 and named after The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the first Chairman of the Council.  The Earl Mountbatten of Burma was President of the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers (IERE) in 1947-48 and 1961-62, which merged with the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now the IET) in 1998. He was also an Honorary Fellow.

Professor Nikamura joins 14 other winners, who were nominated by their peers as leading engineers and technicians in their field.

Nick Winser, IET President, concludes: “We are honoured to present these talented individuals with our top Achievement Medals. They have each excelled in their professions, whether in a short period of time or in careers spanning decades; and have made a vast contribution as pioneers of important areas in the engineering and technology industries. They should all be very proud of their achievements – with each award being extremely well-deserved.”

The Achievement Awards, which took place on Wednesday 15 November 2017, are part of the IET’s Achievement Awards and Scholarships programme, which this year provided over £1million in awards, prizes and scholarships to celebrate excellence and research in the sector and encourage the next generation of engineers and technicians. All IET awards seek to inspire and reward engineering excellence, including apprentices at the start of their careers, through to reputable, established professional engineers and technicians.

Notes to editors:

Find out more about the Awards, please visit the IET Achievement Awards website.