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Shuji Nakamura wins the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize

Helsinki, Finland– The 2006 Millennium Technology Prize has been awarded to Shuji Nakamura. Professor Nakamura has developed a new, revolutionary source of light – bright-blue, green and white LEDs and a blue laser. The technology is used in several applications which improve the quality of human life. The world’s largest technology prize, now being awarded by Finland’s Millennium Prize Foundation for the second time, has a value of one million euros. Professor Shuji Nakamura’s innovation has launched a totally-new sector in light-producing semiconductor research and development. His development also made possible the widescale industrial production of efficient, energy-saving LED lights and created the conditions for applications that improve the quality of human life.

LED lights have extremely long lives and consume far less energy than normal incandescent lamps. In industrialised countries, the opportunities for energy-saving LED lights are significant – it has been calculated that in the USA alone, replacing current lighting systems with systems based on LED lights could achieve very significant reductions in energy consumption in future decades. The new light sources are also well suited to operation with solar power systems and are therefore ideal for use in remote areas of developing countries.

One of the most significant future applications for Shuji Nakamura’s invention is the sterilisation of drinking water, since the use of ultraviolet LEDs makes the water purification process both cheaper and more efficient. Systems based on this technology are expected to improve the lives and health of tens of millions of people.

Data storage and transfer using light generated by blue lasers brings significant benefits, for example, the amount of data stored on CDs or DVDs can be increased by some five times compared to current techniques.

“Shuji Nakamura is a splendid example of perseverance and dedicated research work, and of making a major breakthrough. He has worked with great determination for decades, and even severe setbacks have not prevented him from achieving something that other workers in the field regarded as almost impossible: using a reactor system of his own design to develop a solid material, in this case gallium nitride, into a powerful light source producing blue, green and white light, and also creating a blue laser. The lighting applications now made possible by his achievement can be compared with Thomas Edison’s invention of the incandescent lamp. In the course of time, energy-efficient light sources based on Shuji Nakamura’s innovation will undoubtedly become predominant,” says Pekka Tarjanne, Chairman of the International Selection Committee.

Professor Shuji Nakamura was born in Japan in 1954. He has worked in the USA at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 2000, and his research work into new sources of light continues.

In accordance with the rules of the Millennium Prize Foundation, a proposal concerning the winner of the Millennium Technology Prize is made to the Board of the foundation by the eight-member International Selection Committee, and the final decision on the prize winner is made by the Board.

Shuji Nakamura will receive the Millennium Technology prize at a ceremony to be held in Helsinki on the 8th of September. The prize is awarded every second year for an innovation that improves the quality of human life and well-being.

The Millennium Technology Prize

The Millennium Technology Prize is awarded every second year for a technological innovation that significantly improves the quality of human life. The intention is to encourage human-centred technological development by rewarding both innovations and research and development work that are aimed at improving quality of life and sustainable development. Finnish organisations, industry and the Finnish state founded and fund the prize in partnership. The first Millennium Technology Prize was awarded to Sir Tim Berners-Lee in June 2004 for his invention of the World Wide Web.


Further information:

The Millennium Prize Foundation

Dr. Jaakko Ihamuotila

Chairman of the Board

Mobile: +358-50-577 3262

Professor Pekka Tarjanne

Chairman of the International Selection Committee

Mobile: +358-400-101 222

Email Contact

Dr. Tapio Alvesalo

Secretary General

Mobile: 358-400-341 497

UC Santa Barbara

Paul Desruisseaux

Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs

tel: +1 (805) 893 8273

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