Transcript from an interview with Hiroshi Amano

Interview with Hiroshi Amano on 6 December 2014, during the Nobel Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

What were you doing when you heard you had been awarded the Nobel Prize?

When there were the announcements, I was on a plane from Japan to Frankfurt, that transit. When I took out from the plane, I saw many e-mails entitled “Congratulations, congratulations”, but I did not understand the reasons of all congratulations because I didn’t have time to open up the e-mails. So, I closed the PC and went to the final destination from Frankfurt to Rio. At the exit of the arrival gate, many Japanese journalists were there. They said: “Congratulations Amano-san, you have got the Nobel Prize.” That is the time when I knew I have received the Nobel Prize.

Could you please explain your Nobel Prize awarded work in simple terms?

Maybe you know this place of portable games and there are also cellular phones or smartphones? In 1980s it was monochrome but now all the games and the smartphones are full colors. So in order to realise the full colors, blue light-emitting diodes it is necessary so we are achieving the blue light-emitting diodes. That is what we have done.

At what point did you realize your work was a breakthrough?

One point is to realise bright blue LEDs, we need very high-quality crystals, that is gallium nitride. One thing is to realise very high-quality gallium nitride and the other one is to publicate LEDs, we need both N-type and B-type conductivity and for the N-type it is not so difficult, but B-type it was very, very difficult. So, we achieved the B-type conduction. Back in 1985, when I saw the samples, I thought that I forgot or missed something because the crystals were too perfect or too good, but when I checked by the microscope, I found that we have done it. That was a very amazing moment for me.

What brought you to science?

The thing that brought me to the science it is, when I was a child I couldn’t understand why I should study, but when I entered the university some professor told us that the reason why we study is to contribute to the mankind or contribute to the human society or human life. So, I understood the reason why we should study and for me the science is the most nearest field which I can contribute to the people. That is why I was interested in the science.

Who is your role model, and why?

Role model is of course professor Isamu Akasaki, he was my excellent supervisor. He was very much interested in the crystals and he have studied the semiconductor crystals for a long, long time; germanium, gallium arsenide, gallium phosphide and also the gallium nitride and he insisted in growing the high-quality crystals. So, he is my role model.

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