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Diego Maza Ozcoidi, Full Professor of Physics of the department of Physics and Applied Mathematics of the School of Sciences of the University of Navarra.

When the light was made (blue)

Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:17:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

It is difficult to imagine a home today that does not have an "LED" bulb installed in any of its rooms. Its low consumption and the promise of a hypothetical long life are more than enough reasons to justify its replacement by another subject of light bulbs. Although for some it might seem that this subject of "gadgets" have always been there, the truth is that this technology has arrived very recently in an almost meteoric degree program started in the early nineties.

At that time, Akakasi, Amano and Nakamura finally succeeded in making the light emitted by a semiconductor diode (popularly known as LED) have a bluish hue. The emission of LED light was by no means a novelty... It had been almost thirty years since the emission of light by a semiconductor junction became possible. However, the colors that these devices emitted were mainly red and green, without being able to reach the desired blue light to cover the entire visible electromagnetic spectrum, what we popularly call "rainbow". Basically, the LEDs of the 1990s emitted only a portion of the rainbow, which made them impractical as home lighting source when pitted against their fluorescent contenders. It was then that Akakasi, Amano and Nakamura hit upon the right combination of materials to build the LED that emitted in the blue region of the spectrum, thus finally opening the door to mass production of a device that allowed for quality, energy-efficient whitish illumination.

Although we might be tempted to believe that this development does not have the glamour or the media impact that is assumed to this subject of companies, the truth is that as the committee of the Nobel Prize highlights, this type of breakthrough is in the genesis and spirit of the awards. By rewarding an idea that has such a positive impact on people's daily lives, the committee undoubtedly fulfills Alfred Nobel's wish to reward developments that help to make the world a better place.