Born: 30 January 1929, Chiran, Japan
Affiliation at the time of the award: Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
Prize motivation: "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources"
Field: semiconductor technology
Prize share: 1/3
Isamu Akasaki was born in Chiran in the Kagoshima district of Japan. After studying electrical engineering at the University of Kyoto, he began working at the electronics company Kobe Kogyo Corporation. He returned to academia and received his doctorate in 1964 from Nagoya University. After having worked many years at the electronics company Matsuhita, in 1981 he became a professor at Nagoya University and then eventually at Meijo University, also in Nagoya.
Lighting plays a major role in our quality of life. The development of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) has made more efficient light sources possible. Creating white light that can be used for lighting requires a combination of red, green, and blue light. Blue LEDs proved to be much more difficult to create than red and green diodes. During the 1980s and 1990s Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura successfully used the difficult-to-handle semiconductor gallium nitride to create efficient blue LEDs.