Three inventors will be receiving The 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics — two Japanese and one US citizen — who cdollaborated to create blue light emitting diode (LED) technology. Blue LED semiconductors paved the way for energy-efficient white LED lighting and enabled LED lighting to get cheaper, produce more high-quality light and break into the mainstream. The scientists are Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan (who worked together at the University of Nagoya), and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Those in the know of everything Silicon Valley might recognize one of the names from the announcement: Shuji Nakamura.
Shuji is a co-founder of LED startup Soraa, which came about in 2008 with backing from NEA and Khosla Ventures, Soraa eventually raised over $100 million and brought in the Angeleno Group and NGEN to aid in the venture. The company became more public in 2012.
Blue LEDs are now an integral part of LED lighting, and Soraa isn’t actually using Nakamura’s established tech for its integral innovation. Soraa’s bet is on using the semiconductor gallium nitride for the substrate part of the diode.
LEDs are pre-dominantly made by adding gallium nitride onto sapphire or silicon carbide substrates, but Soraa’s light product places gallium nitride onto a gallium nitride substrate, which allows the core of the light itself to create better uniformity. In a factory tour back in 2012, Soraa’s then-CEO Eric Kim showed me an ultra HQ and consistent LED light compared to their rivals.
Soraa is now on its third generation of lighting products and the company says the combination is more cost-effective and can produce more light per lamp than the methods used previously.