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Shuji Nakamura Awarded the 2006 Millennium Prize

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the kudos-to-you-sir dept.

141

Mictian writes "University of California professor Shuji Nakamura, the japanese inventor of the bright green, white and blue GaN LEDs and a blue laser, has been awarded the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize. While blue LEDs are considered cool and thus needful things by most nerds, Nakamura adapted his blue LEDs to make a blue laser in the mid 90s. The next generation optical storage formats, HD-DVD and BluRay, are of course both based on blue laser. Also, his white LEDS need far less energy than normal incandescent lamps and can thus provide plenty of opportunity for energy-saving in the industrialized world. But probably the most significant future application for Shuji Nakamura's invention comes in the form of sterilizing drinking water, since the the water purification process can be made cheaper and more efficient with the use of ultraviolet LEDs. This can improve the lives and health of tens of millions people in developing countries."

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141 comments

leds everywhere (1)

zanderredux (564003) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546170)

maybe someday I can microwave food with some leds instead of that big, ugly magnetron?

Re:leds everywhere (3, Funny)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546205)

maybe someday I can microwave food with some leds instead of that big, ugly magnetron?

I want them implanted in my fingers so I can find light switches in the dark.

probably not... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546417)

But within several years time we'll probably find appliances shifting over to LED interior lighting. It'll be great once LEDs overtake flourescents in power efficiency, which we are on the cusp of now -- by the time I'm 80 I hope to have totally forgotten how to change a lightbulb.

Re:probably not... (4, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546501)

All the new traffic lights in Victoria (Aus) are built with LED's now. You can tell the difference -- because they use the same switch gear as before, the time lag built in to the control systems to let the incandescents glow down manifests as a few milliseconds of all-lamps-off. Takes a moment to get used to it, but you're very aware of lights changing -- I think it's safer that way, myself. I think it's done with filters over those brilliant white LEDs. We also use variable speed limit signs built with switching arrays of LEDs in crowded shopping areas, used to switch speeds according to traffic conditions & time of day. So there's a good application in use today -- lowering road aggro and maybe even saving a life or two, while lowering energy costs at the same time. High-class geekery, that, and one worth the round of applause.

Actually they don't use filters. (2, Interesting)

skids (119237) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546809)

One of the main reasons, other than not having to change them nearly as often, for using LEDs in traffic lights is that they are monocromatic: if you have a white light behind a colored filter, you're throwing most of your power into heating the filter. Colored lights are the one application where LEDs are already more efficient than flourescents. So much so that newer lights in remote areas can be cheaply solar powered, which in many situations saves you money when considering the cost of running electric lines from them to the grid versus the panels/battery.

And they are catching on -- we have them here in the U.S. too. By my BoTE estimate, nationwide we have about as much baseline power to save on traffic lights as it would take a midsized coal plant to generate (IIRC they have already penetrated 20% of the streetlighting market.) That's a considerable amount of energy and tax dollars we can save right there -- just a matter of getting those town officials to make the jump.

Re:Actually they don't use filters. (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547430)

Pretty much all the traffic and warning signs use LEDs in the UK.

All the warning signs, like "2.5m height limit! Turn left!", are powered by solar panels and windmills.

It's all a welcoming sight for me. More of the same please.

Re:Actually they don't use filters. (3, Informative)

SvetBeard (922070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547628)

Actually, the recent energy bill banned the manufacture and import of parts for incandescent signals in the United States as of January 1, 2006. Existing stocks may be used until they run out, but the upgrade to LED signal tech makes sense. One of my co-workers is a councilman for a small municipality with one traffic signal. The recently converted it to LED. He forwarded us the e-mail from the Public Works department telling that the power bill for the signal was $30 for a month of LED instead of the $150 per month with incandescent. One signal will save the town $1200 a year. Multiply that cost and energy savings by the number of traffic signals in the United States and you'll see why LED traffic signals are catching on.

Re:probably not... (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547154)

Same story here in NYC, where our "traffic lights" [saadiq.org] have been LEDs for several years now. Not that we pay any attention to these things, anyway.

As for those yellow things hanging from poles in the middle of the street, I don't know what they use. Frankly I don't think it'd make a difference if the city switched them all off at once.

Re:probably not... (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547247)

Why would they build them with filters? I've only seen a couple of new traffic lights around Sydney to use them, and both of them have used red/green LEDs (unless they were really sneaky and put a small filter over each LED individually. Likewise the signal lights used on the Cityrail network are being replaced with LEDs and these are individual reds/greens too. The guard lights (on the station platforms) are an array of white and blue (they replace white globes with Fresnel lensing) for some reason, but still they aren't filtered individually.

Anyway, I find them to be a little *too* bright at times, not strictly a bad thing for seeing the signals, but they can be fairly distracting when you're blinded by a green light and subsequently don't see the pedestrian in black running across the road in front of you. No doubt they over-engineer them to be too bright so that they have some give when it comes to replacing them (ie, they can let more LEDs die before replacement. Yes they *do* die on these things, they're probably a bit over-driven or stressed by the elements).

In the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15547700)

we have them for temporary traffic lights as well. The main benefit being they run off a couple of car batteries each rather than a diesel generator. No noise or fumes.

Re:leds everywhere (1)

PhysSurfer (872187) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547186)

Check your basic physics. Nakamura has been instrumental in fabricating LEDs that have small mean wavelenghths (small compared to red). Microwaves, on the other hand, have relatively long wavelengths. Your comment has no relevance to the main topic. Really.

HD-DVD does not use a blue laser (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546198)

Since when does HD-DVD use a blue laser?

Purple...ish (2, Informative)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546657)

Your right, it doesn't.
405nm falls into the category of Violet (380-420nm). Blue would be between 440 and 490nm.

I wonder if/when we'll ever start using ultraviolet lasers to access data? (Maybe someone already does...?)

Re:Purple...ish (2, Funny)

Trogre (513942) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546706)

I wonder if/when we'll ever start using ultraviolet lasers to access data?

Well duh. You wouldn't be able to see your data then!

Re:Purple...ish (1)

jacobw (975909) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547001)

I wonder if/when we'll ever start using ultraviolet lasers to access data?
Well duh. You wouldn't be able to see your data then!
At least, not until your data got sufficiently tan.

spelling nazi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546199)

"his white LEDS need far less energy than normal incandescent lamps"

"LEDS" should be spelled "LEDs".

In and out (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546287)

in out
in out
in out
in out

my cock in your ass

cum drips on your inner thighs

I, for one... (0, Offtopic)

SauroNlord (707570) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546211)

I for one, welcome our clean water drinking overlords.

Re:I, for one... (-1, Troll)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546337)

In soviet russia SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Seriously, are you even trying?

Re:I, for one... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546354)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these trolls!

Re:I, for one... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546663)

I want to cum in your eyes!

This is the type of person... (4, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546212)

...for whom the patent system was created. All of his works are absolutely ubiquitous now in our world.

Re:This is the type of person... (4, Insightful)

AstroDrabb (534369) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546492)

I agree. However, I think we need to expand on your statement a little. This guy didn't just come up with an idea on paper and patent it. He did the _inventing_. Through his direct efforts, society has benefited. A _limited_ patent is the perfect way for society to say "hey, thanks dude!" to people like Shuji Nakamura.

I don't know if he has any patents or not. I hope he does and I hope he makes a killing off of all the blue laser stuff coming out.

Re:This is the type of person... (3, Interesting)

BJH (11355) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546849)

Heh, in this case the company he worked for had patents.

He had shit-all, which is why he sued them for extra compensation.

What makes it even worse is the company actively tried to block him from continuing with the line of research that led to his breakthrough, and made the company a Metric Shitload(tm) of cash.

Re:This is the type of person... (1)

NegativeFX (814039) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547699)

Exactly. I mean, where would G.I. Joe be without the blue laser? Under the rule of Cobra Commander and his red lasers for sure!

frickin blue lights! (5, Insightful)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546230)

I hate those blue LEDs that are on every damn bit of electronics these days. So many manufacturers don't bother to tone it down, so you have all these power indicators that can light up the damn room. Especially irritating if they're flashing, like when my laptop is suspended.

Oh, and backlit cellphone keypads, blue? Worst idea ever. Blue is the about the hardest color to get your eyes to focus on.

So many designers have no sense of aesthetics. They just go with the trend du jour.

Preach it, brother! (1)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546292)

Un-toned-down blue LEDs are a pet peeve of mine, too... as an example, my old Shuttle SK41G, a small-form-factor PC that would have otherwise made a decent MythTV box, has this incredibly frickin' bright blue power indicator.

Shuttle must have learned the lesson, because my new SN21G5 cube has much more pleasant indicators on the front panel - although the power light is still blue, it isn't obnoxious.

Re:Preach it, brother! (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546370)

My Shuttle box actually has a BIOS setting for the LED level (including completely off). But I agree it's annoying. I once bought a cheapo toaster at Target, unpacked it, and found that it had an ALWAYS ON blue LED. Naturally I returned it.

Re:Preach it, brother! (1)

jbrader (697703) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546769)

You're telling me. I bought a cheap alarm clock at radio shack and the screen is lit by blue leds bright enough to read by. Nothing like a floodlamp next to your head while you're sleeping.

Re:Preach it, brother! (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546436)

Un-toned-down blue LEDs are a pet peeve of mine, too... as an example, my old Shuttle SK41G, a small-form-factor PC that would have otherwise made a decent MythTV box, has this incredibly frickin' bright blue power indicator.
That's what electrical tape is for.

Re:Preach it, brother! (3, Funny)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546510)

...has this incredibly frickin' bright blue power indicator...

Duct tape, my friend. Duct tape. Cut it into little tiny bunny shapes and paste it over the indicators. Problem solved.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546295)

The Gateway FPD2185 widescreen LCD has the option to dim / put in night mode the blue led that makes the power button glow.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

chemystery (981863) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546315)

I find most of the time that red LEDs are much more pleasing than those nasty blue LEDs all over consumer electronics stuff. I think the reason why so many manufacturers put those god awful things in is because it doesn't require any design work to make it "fit" (and think: 'lower costs, too!'). "Oh, we'll just use lots of blue LEDs and surround it with as much faux silver as we can... that'll make it look futuristic and cool!"

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546862)

red LEDs are much more pleasing than those nasty blue LEDs all over consumer electronics stuff
See? Even more evidence that the Dreamcast was better than the PS2!

Re:frickin blue lights! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15547113)

Well, UK (European generally?) Dreamcasts had orange LEDs but your point stands.
That area of the DC is pretty flexible actually, I've seen daft multi-LED mods that cycle through every colour you can get.

Re:frickin blue lights! (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546340)

LED toner downer [wikipedia.org]

LED turner offer [hobbyengineering.com]

KFG

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546371)

Yeah, that's the trick to feeling good about your shiny new hardware...

Re:frickin blue lights! (4, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546527)

It ain't really hardware yet 'til it's got some duct tape on it. 'Til then it's just a poser toy.

KFG

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

skids (119237) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546930)

Actually, the tape idea can be done right: my bedroom PC audio system has an obnoxiously bright LED that puts out an amazing amount of light for being only 1/16" wide. So much that it can disturb one's sleep. So I taped it with some "labelling tape" which is a opaque colored thick plastic tape -- I used the same color as the LED and it looks just fine. The tape is translucent enough that the LED shines through just enough to tell that it is on.

You can get the labelling tape in any decent stationary store.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

ContraBassBlack (924294) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546441)

Agreed. I keep duct tape over the blue LEDs on my Altec Lansing subwoofer and Linksys phone adapter, but they still light up the entire room.

sense of aesthetics = fag (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546507)

Gadgets aren't for the queer eye crowd so of course there is no "sense of asthetics".

Re:sense of aesthetics = fag (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546799)

"sense of aesthetics = fag"
Honest to God, sometimes I wish I were gay just so I wouldn't come to be associated with tasteless, beer-chugging, gay-bashing, NASCAR-watching, Kevin Aviance-assaulting fratboys like you.

It's worth noting that Apple products are typically subdued and understated in their design, as in nary a blinding blue light of death across the line. You want elegance and comfort? Follow your instincts and buy Apple. On the other hand, if you're an aesthetically defective redneck, follow your instincts and cobble together that shitbox you've always wanted with the dozens of meaningless lights and A380 fan. We won't miss you.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

ystar (898731) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546613)

He's not responsible for which lights get put in what devices. Don't buy the gadgets if you don't like them, and if there aren't alternatives then complain to motorola or dell or whoever. Personally I don't find it a problem (although on my Antec Sonata case I just disconnected the headlight LEDs from the mobo when it was in my dormroom.) I find LED tech of ANY color to be awesome; my full praise goes to Nakamura's ultra-hard-rocking ingenuity.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546712)

The only bit of blue gear I really hate is the reciever on my Logitech z680's. I don't mind the power indicator... its the bloody display, and its BLINDING blue backlight. ARGH! The thing is im-friggin-possible to read unless you're two feet away and staring at it head on. And at night (sometimes I listen to podcasts before bed) it lights up my whole damn room. Sucks, but I gotta live with it. *Sigh*

Other than that though, none of my blue LED goodies (and I seem to have a lot... cases, thumb drives, monitors, yeesh...) none of them really bother me. A lot of them actually look pretty spiffy IMO. Even my cell phone which does happen to have a blue backlight for the keys... its nice and crisp, looks great! There's nothing wrong with the color really, as long as its used in moderation.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546775)

This seems to be a common complaint from people around here. Whats funny is that I went and replaced my power/disk lights on my case a while ago with a blue light for the power indicator (it ended up being a fairly weak aqua color, which is ok) and a ultra bright (didn't know about the ultra bright part when I bought it) white light for the disk access indicator. I usually have the computer in my room and leave it on overnight to do video processing, which as you can imagine, requires a lot of disk access. Because of this the computer acts like a miniature strobe light dark rooms. It will get your attention, but I really don't think it's so bad, since I've always been able to sleep without any problems with the white light flashing constantly.

So basically, I think it's only a problem if you stare directly into the bright lights, which I don't recommend of course. What exactly are you doing with these devices that's causing you so much irritation? (Most cell phone keypads that I've seen are a bright white/blue, not pure blue.)

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

Lazarian (906722) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546991)

You might be able to get by the problem of the too-bright LED by soldering a resistor (I've found one about 330 ohms works well in a lot of cases) in series with the LED. As for the dim blue one, it may be one that may require a higher voltage to work well. The blue ones I have specify 5 volts as nominal, while other types like red, green or amber need somewhere around 3. Depending on the type, they may be under or over driven. The blue one may be only getting 3 and glowing dim, but the white one may be getting too much voltage.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546936)

I have a friend with a computer so bright that its lights are visible outside his house on his garage. Ridiculous.

Re:frickin blue lights! (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546976)

I love the color blue, yet I have to agree with you. My friend has speakers with a blue LED light on them that is so bight. The speakers are next to the monitor so this light is shining right in your eyes and it's just annoying.

Not to minimize his work... (3, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546260)

...which is phenomenal and well-deserving of the prize, but why the comparison to incandescent bulbs for large-scale energy savings? Flourescent lightss, including full-spectrum lights that produce better quality light than most incadescent bulbs, are much more efficient than incandescents, too, for their output; my understanding is that White LED lights are now somewhat more efficient even than flourescents, which is the real reason they offer a big step forward in terms of large-scale energy savings (plus, they are much easier to make very small, which is good for lots of applications where flourescent lights aren't really well suited, but that's not going to be the source of enormous energy savings.)

Re:Not to minimize his work... (2, Informative)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546437)

It's not just the saving in energy consumption, either. LED-based lightbulb alternatives generally have lifespans in the tens of thousands of hours, compared to around 1000 hours for a good quality incandescent bulb. Most of the LED bulbs that I've seen have around 50,000 to 60,000 hour lifespans, which if you do some quick maths will work out to around 6 years of constant use. They're a lot more expensive than a single incandescent bulb, but if you actually sit down and figure everything else, the equivalent number of standard incandescent bulbs will cost you more. That's not even touching on the significant power reduction, either.

Re:Not to minimize his work... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546450)

I don't really care for the fluorescent bulb replacement for the house. They don't look quite right. Maybe I am just used to the yellowish glow of incandescent, but fluorecent lights are just too harsh. Even the ones that are supposed to be "soft." I imagine LEDs would be simlar if my LED flashlight is any gauge.

-matthew

Re:Not to minimize his work... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546541)

I don't really care for the fluorescent bulb replacement for the house. They don't look quite right. Maybe I am just used to the yellowish glow of incandescent, but fluorecent lights are just too harsh. Even the ones that are supposed to be "soft." I imagine LEDs would be simlar if my LED flashlight is any gauge.
Though this is drifting a bit afield, I personally like the ones that are enclosed in an outer frosted casing, particularly the ones I have in recessed ceiling floodlights in my house (the bare ones, even with a shade, do seem rather harsh. And I especially love the full-spectrum flourescent desk lamp I have. But, yeah, I understand why some people don't like most CFLs; when I had an apartment without recessed fixtures they werent as nice, though -- living in the CA central valley -- the twin advantages of reduced waste heat and reduced energy use, with long life being an extra boost, sold me anyway.

Re:Not to minimize his work... (1)

KingPrad (518495) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546643)

Heh, I have the opposite opinion of flourescents. I've put them all over my apartment and love the light quality (as in color and brightness). I notice regular incandescent bulbs now by their (to me) gloomy yellow light. The natural light incandescent bulbs are different of course. But I really don't like those standard yellow-light bulbs.

I think we can both agree that the range of choice available is a great thing. You like one type, I like a completely different type, and for various purposes there are two dozen different varieties.

Re:Not to minimize his work... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546679)

I've been using LEDs for indoor lighting for something like ten years now, but I don't generally use them "naked." I usually make Japanese style laterns with them and can use various paper colors as a filter to get something other than harsh white light, which I reserve for spot lighting where needed.

One of the things I like best about LEDs is that their low power use means it's really practical to go wireless with batteries, without the mess inherent with oil lamps (which I still love, in part for the warm, yellowish glow that even an incandescent electric bulb can't match. I like fire . . .but, I don't like oily soot).

KFG

Re:Not to minimize his work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546453)

The durability and ability to use low voltages for LED systems are both great qualities of LED lights. Flourescents often contain mercury and have a definite short lifecycle. Ballasts, which are relatively expensive, also have a lifecycle that is pretty low when compared to LED fixtures. Not to mention they suffer from 50/60 Hz flicker that drives some people really mad. LED fixtures should make a great improvement to the tone of light within buildings. I suggest you look at the Lighting of the 7E7 and A380 (I think) aircrafts and see what kind of atmosphere is possible with LED lighting. The demo models have some pretty impressive tones.

Re:Not to minimize his work... (1)

ystar (898731) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546654)

LEDs also don't emit toxic gas when smashed (although their disposal probably isn't super friendly to the environment).

Re:Not to minimize his work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546778)

Fluorescents must use inert noble gases. Do you refer to the tiny quantity of mercury as toxic gas?

Re:Not to minimize his work... (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547753)

although their disposal probably isn't super friendly to the environment
Not to mention their manufacture which as with all semiconductors is really icky.

I don't know about the impact of fluorescent tubes (or conventional incandescent lamps for that matter) though.

Re:Not to minimize his work... (2, Interesting)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547023)

I love daylight florescent lights, I use them at my desk and, to many people's surprise, in my bedroom. Once you get used to the blue, I find it much more pleasant then the yellow tint of the standard kind, especially to augment daylight. Fact is though, that even their ability to render colors properly is inferior to a plain old generic incandescent light bulb (http://www.sizes.com/units/CRI.htm). The color temperature rating on florescent and even gas discharge lamps is just an approximation of true blackbody color temperature. This is why even budget conscious retail and food chains still will have at least incandescent spot lighting, things just look better under it.

As a professional stage lighting designer looking for rich colors and as a person looking to save on cooling and power costs at home, I can't wait for LEDs to keep getting cheaper, brighter, and more efficient. Unfortunately being that white LEDs are based on phosphors in somewhat the same way as CRTs and fluorescents are, I don't think we aren't going to see the end of incandescents quite yet.

Deserving (4, Informative)

jet_silver (27654) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546274)

Shuji Nakamura got boned by his employer Nichia, and it's got to feel sweet for him that he's getting recognized for his work anyway.

"The court actually valued Nakamura's contribution to the company at 60.4 billion yen, based on Nichia's sales and the revenue that it might theoretically have received from licensing a key patent relating to the epitaxial growth of LED material."

http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/news/2/1/5/1 [ledsmagazine.com]

Re:Deserving (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546513)

My uncle Al got boned by his department head once upon a time. This led to his getting boned by the Nobel Committee, despite the fact that uncle Al, like Nakamura, was given a settlement (out of court) on the royalties and a public statement asserting that he was rightful codiscoverer, published in the NY Times.

The Nobel Committee has never recognized the error, but at least ten years before he died he received the Rutgers Medal from the university at which he had done the research, from which he gained some satisfaction.

Anyone interested in how one can get boned in the sciences might find the book "Finding Dr. Schatz" interesting, an "as told to" book finished after his death last year by coauthor Inge Auerbacher (I Am a Star-Child of the Holocaust, Beyond the Yellow Star to America, and Running Against the Wind; also worth reading):

Finding Dr. Schatz [amazon.com]

KFG

Re:Deserving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15547000)

If it was all his idea and work, what was stopping him from developing it himself in secret?

Re:Deserving (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15547810)

His contract. Just like every other contract out there these days. If you're employed, your contract probably says that everything you think say or do belongs to the company, 24/7, even if they only pay you for 8 hours 5 days a week.

I got lucky, the HR dude at my job was impressed enough with my credentials and skill to let me "edit" the contract a bit. Most people aren't, whether it's through HR droidism (Thats our standard contract, you can't change that!) or just being an asshole (Stupid peon, you should be licking my shoes to repay me for basking in this company's glory!)

I love the white LED's (4, Interesting)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546279)

A few years ago I invested in a white LED headlight/torch for when I would go camping.

I got almost 2 years out of a set of 3 AAA batteries, the light itself provided excellent light at night and stayed bright up until the batteries were noticably dying.

It was one of the most practical investments I ever made.

Re:I love the white LED's (1)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547592)

Not to mention that the entire caving community owes the man a debt of gratitude. Lighter, whiter, and brighter than our old headlamps, and insane battery life to boot.

UV leds suck for sterilization (4, Informative)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546401)

"But probably the most significant future application for Shuji Nakamura's invention comes in the form of sterilizing drinking water, since the the water purification process can be made cheaper and more efficient with the use of ultraviolet LEDs. This can improve the lives and health of tens of millions people in developing countries."

This is absurd. No one with even the slightest clue about such things would ever make such a statement. Nakamura's blue and UV GaN/InGaN/AlInGaN leds and laser diodes are great but they will not be used for this purpose. The all emit in the near UV [wikipedia.org] (350 nm or greater) this sucks for killing microorganisims. You want to cause a kink in a bacteria's dna by dimerizing adjacent thymine molecules [wikipedia.org], thus inhibiting replication. The germicidal efficacy curve which describes this phenomenon peaks at 260nm [emperoraquatics.com] way below any LED with any kind of reasonable efficiency. A tenuous mercury plasma in a quartz bulb [emperoraquatics.com] however, will blast out something like over 80% of its light right at this wavelength! There is no way you are going to beat the hugely efficient and dirt cheap germicidal uv lamps already on the market any time soon.

Frickin' laser beams (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15546502)

TFA explains "blue lasers," summary misquotes as "ultraviolet LEDs". Whatever, same difference.

Nakamura is not just an LED guru, he's more generally a wizard of light and... light, I guess.

Re:Frickin' laser beams (1)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547051)

blue semiconductor lasers are EVEN MORE inefficient than blue LEDs. And I don't think (>microwatt level) UV semiconductor laser diodes that operate above cryogenic temperatures even exist yet.

Re:UV leds suck for sterilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15547062)

Thank you. Couldn't have laid out the optics better, but should add that the major problem with back-country water systems remains filtration--it's not all biohazards out there. I've not seen in 40 yrs of water-quality work any UV system which could work well to kill biohazards which didn't load up to failure. While these LEDs are very nifty for our physics and cs fun, they're not much use for clean water. That is better left to electrons, ozone and high-intensity quartz UV. With LOTS of filtration. And keep your ph adjusted accordingly...

Re:UV leds suck for sterilization (1)

njh (24312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547102)

I'm glad you wrote this, that was my first reaction too. When I first saw UV LEDs, sterilization was my first thought, as the UV-C lamps are quite expensive. But I looked up the curve and went, bah. The big problem with the UV-C lamps is that they are expensive and fragile, perhaps someone will work out a way to make them cheaper and more robust (diamond film perhaps?). I doubt LEDs will ever be as efficient as gas discharge though.

The claim about LEDs being more efficient that light bulbs is also rather silly, as CFL are much more efficient, and are so cheap/lumen these days that there is little reason not to use them.

Re:UV leds suck for sterilization (2, Informative)

njh (24312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547211)

And then I did some real research and found that
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum_gallium_nitr ide [wikipedia.org] gives down to 250nm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum_nitride [wikipedia.org] gives down to 210nm

diamond has a band gap of 6.4eV, which, if my physics is correct, gives an LED with an emission frequency of E = hf,
You have: c / (6.4eV /h )
You want: nm
                * 193.72529
so assuming we can solve the materials engineering, perhaps UV sterilisation LEDs aren't impractical (I suspect that we'd have to make the case out of quartz to survive this kind of radiation!).

Re:UV leds suck for sterilization (5, Informative)

CrazyMik (842019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547587)

There are some companies working deep UV LEDS. Check out this article on a company called SET Inc (http://www.s-et.com/ [s-et.com]). They make LEDS that emit down to 250 NM, and in addition to water purification, these LEDS could be used like fluorescent tubes to excite phosphors for lighting.

A more detaile article, written by me, can be found at:
http://www.mdatechnology.net/tech_update.aspx?id=6 0 [mdatechnology.net]
Click on the article "Light Work" - the direct link was not working...

or a dryer more technical description:
http://www.mdatechnology.net/techsearch.asp?articl eid=573#listing/ [mdatechnology.net]

Get Al Gore To updated his presentation.. (2, Funny)

x1n933k (966581) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546406)

Call his agent. I'll send him an email once the sun recharges my Powerbook's battery.

Ultraviolet LEDs! Fun! (1)

synaptic (4599) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546454)

Doesn't ultraviolet radiation/light ionize air and kill or seriously mutate living cells?

Imagine a beowulf of these things (like those stupid looking infrared leds for infrared-sensitive CCD/CMOS cameras), ionizing the air into which an electric current is conducted, igniting the ionized air into a plasma which can then be shaped with small electromagnets.

Isn't this essentially how the Deep Space 1 ion-drive propulsion works?

Gimme a few hundred thousand of these UV LEDs, some SPF999, and I'll be running this place in under a week.

Hrmph, maybe this is the 21st century after all.

LEDs are the new LASER? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546619)

I find it both amusing and fascinating that when they were just coming out, lasers were depicted in sci-fi as being the solution to everything. We laugh, yet they're used for so many things, like laser eye surgery. Maybe LEDs will in time prove to be similarly useful? /still waiting for the death ray.

- RG>

Not University of California (4, Informative)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546675)

To be clear, she's a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) [wikipedia.org] and not University of California, which is usually associated with Berkeley, being the 1st UC in the state.

Re:Not University of California (5, Funny)

falzer (224563) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546721)

I know it's fun to use "she/he" interchangeably to curry favour with feminists, but in this case the inventor actually is a he.

Re:Not University of California (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546818)

hope this clears things up...

University of California: Berkeley::

fruit: apple::

Re:Not University of California (1)

solistus (556078) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546884)

I grew up in Southern California, and when I hear "University of California," I think the whole system. Berkeley's common nickname is Cal. The UC system has several good campuses; while Berkeley is the most famous, there are departments at other schools, such as UCSB, UCD and UCLA, that are superior to their Berkeley counterparts, and the UC system itself is often worth talking about.

Re:Not University of California (1)

bariswheel (854806) | more than 7 years ago | (#15546911)

THANK YOU.

I hate the fact that when some professor in Berkeley invents something, it's UC Berkeley or CAL Berkeley...they get credited...but when we're on the table, it's University of California. Excuse my french but fuck that.

I just wish ... (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 7 years ago | (#15547212)

... manufacturers wouldn't keep putting high-intensity LEDs in the most ludicrous places. I have a cheapo laminator with a clear plastic handle on top, and embedded in the handle are two of the brightest blue LEDs I have ever seen. They're pointing straight up, which is exactly where my eyes are when I'm trying to feed a sheet of paper into the machine. Of all the stupid gonzo designs...
Anyway, nine layers of masking tape and a liberal application of black texta later these LEDs are barely enough to light three rooms of my house.
Next up are bright LEDS on speaker controls, the front of my LCD monitor, my mouse... After correcting all these things my gear looks like it was smashed with a hammer and stuck back together with tape.
So, kudos to the guy for inventing the LEDS, and minus several million points to the manufacturers for using them.
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