Transcript from an interview with Shuji Nakamura

Interview with Physics Laureate Shuji Nakamura on 6 December 2014, during the Nobel Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

What has been the most significant breakthrough in your career?

Shuji Nakamura: I think, because in 1993 I could develop the very high efficient blue LEDs that is almost 100 times brighter than all the blue LED. All the blue LEDs in long time ago, already in 1970’s already, some people already developed blue LEDs, but that is not the p-n junction blue LED but that is very dim. My invention is 100 times brighter so this blue LEDs can be used in all kinds of applications – it is bright enough for all kinds of applications. So that is when I realised that my invention is great, that is in 1993. Of course, I achieved this big breaks in 1993 I had already achieved several breakthrough like p-type gallium nitride, indium gallium nitride and all they all maybe were similar breakthroughs but this in 1993 the final was a breakthrough for the high efficient blue LED as a product.

What brought you to science?

Shuji Nakamura: Math is the most important because during my childhood using math, I expect the using you know, I could understand what was happening in the nature because using the equations I tried to explain what was happening in the nature using one equation. So that is my feeling of the maths. Also, in the same time math is used to explain the nature, all kind of things happening. Most important math plus also people has to show the interest of the nature. To understand the nature, we need maths and also physics – maths and physics. The most important, children have to play outside to understand what is happening in nature and also to sort of understand nature we need some tool like maths – the tool is maths. And also gradually maths become physics and physics also become the tool to explain the nature, so that combination is very important for childhood. Play outside to understand nature, study math and physics.

Who is your role model, and why?

Shuji Nakamura: Sorry, I don’t have, because I have no role model at all because I was born in a very remote city where I worked at study in the city and my university also located in a very remote city in Japan and no famous professors were there. I joined a small company and no famous people worked there. In my years I had to do everything myself from scratch – everything, so no role model in my case. Many people are asking about my role model, and I say no, nobody. I just had to do everything myself. Most important is that people have to believe in themselves because people have to try new things and greater expectations and greater confidence – that is the most important. Just be yourself.

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

Shuji Nakamura: I was sleeping because I live in California, Santa Barbara. The Nobel Foundation called me just around midnight, or almost 2 a.m. California time so I was sleeping and then suddenly I got the phone call and they said “Congratulations, you have got the Nobel Prize” and I was surprised. So I was sleeping, yeah.

Did your life change after the award?

Basically no change. Lot of mass media came to me for interviews but a lot of noise happening caused by mass media, but my studies and research work is no change. Already thinking my ideas and studies – so basically no change but a lot of noise and mass media is contacting me. But basically no change. The final reward is I don’t know, we changed it so the overall /spread/ is around 50 percent and our goal is to cross 100 percent, so we have to work very hard to increase and change our third /- – -/.

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