Shuji Nakamura

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Shuji Nakamura
Professor Shuji Nakamura (Cropped).jpg
Shuji Nakamura in 2014
Born (1954-05-22) 22 May 1954 (age 68)
Ikata, Ehime, Japan
Residence United States
Citizenship Japan (until 2005 or 2006)
United States (since 2005 or 2006)[1][2]
Nationality American[3][4]
Institutions University of California, Santa Barbara
Alma mater University of Tokushima
Known for Blue and white LEDs
Notable awards Millennium Technology Prize (2006)
Harvey Prize (2009)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2014)
National Inventors Hall of Fame (2015)

Shuji Nakamura (中村 修二 Nakamura Shūji?, born May 22, 1954) is a Japanese-born American electronic engineer and inventor specializing in the field of semiconductor technology, professor at the Materials Department of the College of Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB),[5] and is regarded as the inventor of the blue LED, a major breakthrough in lighting technology.[6] Together with Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano, he is one of the three recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes, which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources".


Nakamura graduated from the University of Tokushima in 1977 with a B.Eng. degree in electronic engineering, and obtained an M.Eng. degree in the same subject two years later, after which he joined the Nichia Corporation, also based in Tokushima. It was while working for Nichia that Nakamura invented the first high brightness gallium nitride (GaN) LED whose brilliant blue light, when partially converted to yellow by a phosphor coating, is the key to white LED lighting, which went into production in 1993.

Previously, J. I. Pankove and co-workers at RCA put in considerable effort, but did not manage to make a marketable GaN LED in the 1960s. The principal problem was the difficulty of making strongly p-type GaN. Nakamura drew on the work of another Japanese group led by Professor Isamu Akasaki, who published their method to make strongly p-type GaN by electron-beam irradiation of magnesium-doped GaN. However, this method was not suitable for mass production and its physics were not well understood. Nakamura managed to develop a thermal annealing method which was much more suitable for mass production. In addition, he and his co-workers worked out the physics and pointed out the culprit was hydrogen, which passivated acceptors in GaN.

At the time, many considered creating a GaN LED too difficult to produce, therefore Nakamura was fortunate that the founder of Nichia, Nobuo Ogawa (1912–2002) was initially willing to support his GaN project. However the company eventually ordered him to suspend work on GaN, claiming it was consuming too much time and money. Nakamura continued to develop the blue LED on his own and in 1993 succeeded in making the device.[7]

He was awarded a D.Eng. degree from the University of Tokushima in 1994. He left Nichia Corporation in 1999 and took a position as a professor of engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 2001, Nakamura sued his former employer Nichia over his bonus for the discovery as a part of a series of lawsuits between Nichia and Nakamura with Nichia's US competitor Cree Inc.; they agreed in 2000 to jointly sue Nichia at the expense of Cree and Nakamura received stock options from Cree. Nakamura claimed that he received only ¥20,000 (≈US$180) for his discovery of "404 patent," though Nichia revealed that the company awarded him with promotions and bonuses of 62 million yen over 11 years and his annual salary reached 20 million yen when he quit Nichia.[8]

Although Nakamura originally won an appeal for ¥20 billion (≈US$180 million), Nichia appealed the award and the parties settled in 2005 for ¥840 million (≈US$9 million), at the time the largest bonus ever paid by a Japanese company.[9]

Nakamura has also worked on green LEDs, and is responsible for creating the white LED and blue laser diodes used in Blu-ray Discs and HD DVDs.[10]

Nakamura is a professor of Materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and holds over 100 patents.[11] In 2008, Nakamura, along with fellow UCSB professors Dr. Steven DenBaars and Dr. James Speck, founded Soraa, a developer of solid-state lighting technology built on pure gallium nitride substrates.[12]



  1. 特許は会社のもの「猛反対」 ノーベル賞の中村修二さん (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun Digital. 18 October 2014. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. ノーベル賞の中村修二氏、「アメリカの市民権」を取った理由を語る (in Japanese). withnews. 18 October 2014. 2005、6年ごろに(米国市民権を)取ったんですよ [acquired (U.S. citizenship) in 2005 or 2006] Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "中村教授「物理学賞での受賞には驚いた」 ノーベル賞". The Nikkei. Nikkei Inc. October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Shuji received American citizenship in 2000. Japan does not recognize dual nationality.
  5. "Shuji Nakamura". Santa Barbara: University of California. Retrieved July 31, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Nobel laureate fought the odds to make history". Pacific Coast Business Times. Retrieved Oct 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Court dismisses inventor's patent claim but will consider reward". The Japan Times. September 20, 2002. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 日亜化学工業社長の小川英治氏 訴訟騒動の真実を今こそ明らかにする (in Japanese). Nikkei Tech-on. April 2004. Retrieved 1 December 2014. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Zaun, Todd (January 12, 2005). "Japanese Company to Pay Ex-Employee $8.1 Million for Invention". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Richard Harris (June 15, 2006). "Work in Colored Lights Nets Millennium Prize". All Things Considered.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Shuji Nakamura". Solid State Lighting & Energy Center. Retrieved October 19, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "About". Soraa Inc. Retrieved October 19, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Shuji Nakamura wins the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize [1]
  14. "Top prize for 'light' inventor". BBC News. September 8, 2006. Archived from the original on March 5, 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-08. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Inventor Shuji Nakamura at the European Inventor Award
  16. Prince of Asturias Awards for Technical and Scientific Research.
  17. Harvey Prize
  18. "SVIPLA Presents Inventor of the Year - Shuji Nakamura, Ph.D." Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association. Retrieved 5 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics - Press Release". Nobel Media AB 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Shuji Nakamura, Gerhard Fasol, Stephen J. Pearton, The Blue Laser Diode : The Complete Story, Springer; 2nd edition, October 2, 2000, (ISBN 3-540-66505-6)
  • Bob Johnstone Brilliant!: Shuji Nakamura and the revolution in lighting technology, Prometheus Books, 2007 ISBN 1-59102-462-5

See also

External links

Preceded by
Tim Berners-Lee
Millennium Technology Prize winner
2006 (for blue and white LEDs)
Succeeded by
Robert S. Langer