Fresh off his Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month, UCSB professor Shuji Nakamura is set to receive the 2014 Order of Culture Award in his native Japan. The prize — one of Japan’s most esteemed, with recipients chosen by the Japanese Cabinet — salutes those who have made significant contributions to the country’s culture. Emperor Akihito will bestow the medal to Nakamura at the Imperial Palace on November 3.
In early October, Nakamura, along with two Japanese scientists, won the Nobel Prize for Physics for inventing the blue LED, credited with making way for the white LED, a promising technology particularly for areas of the world where electricity is scarce. Speaking to his second award this year, Nakamura issued a statement through the university. “This is the most prestigious award in Japan,” he said. “It is my great honor to receive it for recognition of my work in the invention of bright blue LEDs and energy-efficient white light sources.”
UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang commended Nakamura, a professor in the university’s multidisciplinary Materials Department, for the award: “It brings me great pride to congratulate Professor Nakamura on this prestigious honor bestowed by the emperor of Japan.” Continuing, Yang said Nakamura’s work with white LEDs has “opened the door to affordable, energy-efficient lighting for every person in every nation — a monumental contribution to all of humankind. He also has advanced the frontiers of science with his unparalleled breakthroughs in physics, materials science, and technology.”
Born in 1954 in Japan, Nakamura received his electrical engineering degrees from the University of Tokushuma. In 1989, he began researching blue LEDs and some years later made tremendous strides in blue/green LEDs and violet laser diodes. He joined UCSB in 2000 and is one of the leaders of the university’s Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center.
Nakamura — the sixth Gaucho professor to win a Nobel Prize — will claim that award and split the $1.1 million prize with his two fellow winners on December 10 in Stockholm, Sweden.