1954-, Japanese physicist and electronics engineer, grad. Univ. of Tokushima (D.Eng., 1994). Nakamura joined the Nichia Corporation in 1977, and it was there that he began his life-long work with light-emitting devices. In 1993 Nichia put into production Nakamura's first invention, a high brightness gallium nitride LED (light-emitting diode
) whose brilliant blue light is the key to white LED lighting. In 1999 Nakamura left Nichia for a position as professor of materials and director of the Solid State Lighting and Display Center at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, to continue his research into sources of light. He received the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize for his invention of revolutionary new light sources: blue, green, and white LEDs and the blue laser diode. Blue LEDs are used in flat-screen displays, blue lasers are used in such optical storage devices as Blu-ray and HD-DVD players, and white LEDs could provide a low-cost alternative to light bulbs. Nakamura's 2001 lawsuit against Nichia over his compensation for his discoveries, which ultimately was settled out of court, shattered the unwritten bond that had formerly existed between employer and employee in Japan.
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