2 February 2021

The Optical Society Congratulates Queen Elizabeth Prize Recipients Shuji Nakamura, Russell Dupuis, Nick Holonyak Jr., George Craford and Isamu Akasaki

OSA Fellow and Honorary Member Honored for Development of Solid State Lighting Technology

WASHINGTON – The Optical Society (OSA), the world’s leading champion for optics and photonics, extends congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize) -- OSA Fellow Russell Dupuis, OSA Honorary Member Nick Holonyak Jr., M. George Craford and Nobel Laureate Shuji Nakamura, both recipients of the OSA Nick Holonyak, Jr. Award, and Nobel Laureate Isamu Akasaki -- for their achievements in solid-state lighting technology. Their pioneering work led to the creation of LED lighting.

“The recipients of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering have transformed our capabilities to reduce health threats such as COVID-19, communicate, travel and brighten our world,” said 2021 OSA President Connie Chang-Hasnain. “Their groundbreaking and disruptive innovation has improved energy efficiency and contributed to a more sustainable environment. OSA applauds the accomplishments of Dr. Holonyak, Dr. Dupuis and all of the 2021 QEPrize winners.”

“The size of the market and equipment has increased dramatically” as a result of this technology, said Dupuis. In an interview, he regarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize as the most important recognition of his career.

The QEPrize is awarded for “innovation in engineering which has been of global benefit to humanity.” The GBP 1 million prize, established in 2013, promotes excellence in engineering and celebrates visionaries in the field.

Previous winners include OSA Fellow Eric Fossum and OSA Emeritus member George Smith, 2009 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, for the development of image sensor technology, also called “camera-on-a-chip.” They were honored in 2017 for a game-changing technology, digital cameras, that is now a standard feature in smartphones.

About Russell Dupuis

Russell Dupuis enabled the commercial production of high-quality semiconductors. Born in the United States in 1947, he gained his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1973. After working at Texas Instruments (1973–75), he joined Rockwell International (1975–79) and was the first to demonstrate that metal–organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) could be applied to high-quality semiconductor thin films and devices to produce high-performance LEDs, prompting numerous companies to do the same. The most advanced white LEDs available today are produced using the same method, and the technology is also used for solar cells and high-frequency electronics.

Dupuis worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories (1979–86) and was a chaired professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas (1989 to 2003). Since then he has been a chaired professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in electrical and computer engineering and continues working on LEDs. Dupuis was elected OSA Fellow in 2000.

About Nick Holonyak

Nick Holonyak, Jr., is often called the ‘Godfather’ of LEDs. Born in Illinois, USA in 1928, he studied electrical engineering at the University of Illinois, gaining his Ph.D. in 1954. He joined Bell Telephone Laboratories for a year and then, after military service, worked for GE 1957-63. While there he invented the shorted emitter (1958) – a switching device used in thyristors - semiconductors made from four layers - including the element used in a wall light dimmer.

He invented the first (red) visible-light light emitting diode in 1962 as well as group III-V compound semiconductors containing either three or four different elements. Holonyak used these alloys to create semiconductors with specific properties. This work underpins the worldwide industry of all modern LEDs since it led to the development of high-brightness, high-efficiency white LEDs.

Holonyak returned to the University of Illinois as professor in 1963 and is now the John Bardeen Endowed Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics (John Bardeen invented the transistor, Holonyak was Bardeen’s first student) and the ECE Professor in the Center of Advanced Study. Throughout his career he continually improved and developed semiconductors and was the first to make silicon tunnel diodes, leading to both higher performance lasers and red LEDs. Among his numerous awards are the National Medal of Science (USA, 1990); the Japan Prize (1995); the Global Energy International Prize (Russia, 2003); and the IEEE Medal of Honor (2003). In 2017 he was awarded the IEEE Edison Medal for pioneering developments that ushered in the era of solid state lighting. The OSA Nick Holonyak, Jr. Award, established in 1997, is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to optics based on semiconductor-based optical devices and materials, including basic science and technological applications.

About M. George Craford

M. George Craford developed VLED technology in the late 1970s, invented the yellow LED and improved the efficiency of high-brightness, alloy compound semiconductor LEDs. He was born 29 December 1938, in Iowa, USA. After receiving his doctorate in physics from the University of Illinois in 1967, mentored by Holonyak, he joined the Monsanto Chemical Company. There, he led the company’s LED technology group and, in 1972, invented the yellow LED. He was made director of Technology for the Electronics Division in 1974 and, between 1967-79, helped Monsanto become the largest LED company in the world.

Craford joined Hewlett-Packard in 1979 as Technology Manager for the Optoelectronic Division where his team pioneered the development of AlInGaP LEDs using metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). This increased the performance of red and yellow LEDs more than tenfold. In 1999, Craford became Chief Technology Officer of Lumileds Lighting, which developed the first high-power white LEDs that are now widely found in automobile lights, and cellphone flashes. His later work focused on making cost effective white LED lights while his high-brightness yellow and amber LEDs are now familiar sights in traffic signals and emergency lighting. Craford received the OSA Nick Holonyak, Jr. Award in 1998.

About Shuji Nakamura

Shuji Nakamura was born in Ikata, Japan, in 1954 and shares the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics with his fellow laurate Akasaki. Nakamura gained Bachelors and Masters Degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Tokushima and joined the chemical and electronics company Nichia in 1979, where he later conducted his Nobel-Prize winning work. In 1988, he spent a year at the University of Florida as a visiting research associate.

Nakamura developed a two-flow MOCVD system for gallium nitride growth while at Nichia and commercialized it in 1993. In 1994 he received his doctorate in electrical engineering and in 1999 he joined the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a professor. He developed the first MOVCD growth of group III-nitride-based blue-green LEDs and violet laser diodes. His work led directly to the creation of efficient lighting and displays, white LEDs, and blue laser diodes used in Blu-ray and high-definition DVDs. Nakamura received the OSA Nick Holonyak, Jr. Award in 2001.

About Isamu Akasaki

Isamu Akasaki was born in Chiran, Japan, on 30 January 1929. He graduated in electrical engineering at the University of Kyoto in 1952. After working for the electronics company Kobe Kogyo Corporation (now Fujitsu), he returned to academia and received a doctorate in electronic engineering from Nagoya University in 1964. He then joined the Matsushita Research Institute Tokyo, and entered academia once more, becoming a professor at Nagoya University in 1981, whose Akasaki Institute was founded in 2006 using royalties from his patents. He joined Meijo University in 1992.

His innovations between 1986-89 were the foundations of almost all subsequent research in this area as well as for commercial development. Akasaki upgraded the MOCVD technology by developing its use with sapphire substrates to produce group III nitride (III-N) VLEDs and also demonstrated - with Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, the first p-type gallium nitride, which created efficient blue LEDs for the first time. This advance formed the basis of high-brightness and efficient green and white VLEDs.

OSA Publishing’s digital library features a collection of the most relevant papers published by the winners. These papers will be free to access for the next 90 days.

About The Optical Society

The Optical Society (OSA) is dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving, and dissemination of knowledge in optics and photonics worldwide. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students, and others interested in the science of light. OSA’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources, and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical, and educational achievement.

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide, is dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement.

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