Isamu Akasaki


Interview, October 2014

Telephone interview with Isamu Akasaki following the announcement of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, 8 October 2014. The interviewer is Adam Smith, Chief Scientific Officer of Nobel Media.

Isamu Akasaki, the pioneer of the blue LED, was working at Meijo University when he got the news that he had been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura. Hear Isamu Akasaki talk about his reaction and the many congratulatory messages he received: “This shows the authority and greatness of the Nobel Prize”.

Interview transcript

[Isamu Akasaki] Hello, this is Akasaki speaking.

[Adam Smith] Hello, this is Adam Smith calling. My congratulations on the award of the Nobel Prize.

[IA] Thank you very much.

[AS] How did you hear the news? How did you learn?

[IA] I was working at my office at the Meijo University. I was just arranging my papers and checking some documents.

[AS] Yes. And the telephone rang?

[IA] I heard from the Nobel Foundation about 6 pm. I felt rather surprised.

[AS] What was your reaction, your first reaction?

[IA] I was overwhelmed by so many interviewers and then messages of congratulations. So many congratulation messages. I feel this shows the authority and the greatness of the Nobel Prize.

[AS] Indeed, I imagine everybody wants to talk to you now.

[IA] Yes, yes.

[AS] Tell me, one of your co-Laureates, Hiroshi Amano, he was your graduate student?

[IA] Yes, I talked with him.

[AS] What is he saying?

[IA] Congratulations, he tells us. [Laughs]

[AS] How very nice. You were the pioneer of the blue LED.

[IA] Oh, I think so.

[AS] Yes, and how did you have the courage to try to develop it when nobody else could?

[IA] Ah, in the late 1960s, red and the low green LEDs and the infrared semiconductor lasers ¬†had already been developed but there was no prospect of practical blue light emitters, even in the ’70s. So, very many researchers, including the front runners in gallium nitride, abandoned the development of gallium nitride-based devices. I have devoted myself to the study of crystal growth, aiming at the development of the p-n junction of gallium nitride. That is the short story.

[AS] It’s very very lovely to talk to you, thank you. We very much look forward to meeting you when you come to Stockholm in December.

[IA] December? Hi, hi.

[AS] Yes, to receive the Prize.

[IA] Yes, we can meet there.

[AS] And then we will speak further.

[IA] Sorry my poor English.

[AS] Sorry for my poor Japanese.

[IA] No, no. Japanese is a very strange foreign language for European people.

[AS] Yes, but you speak English beautifully so we are fine. It’s a great pleasure to speak to you. Once again congratulations and thank you.

[IA] Bye Bye.

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