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June 21, 2006

Researcher Wins Major Technical Prize for His Work on LEDs

Technology innovations occur everyday, but what can hold a candle to the invention of the World Wide Web? According to a leading Finnish foundation, it's the invention of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that emit new colors, including blue, green, and white. Finland's Millennium Prize Foundation announced on June 15th that its 2006 Millennium Technology Prize will go to Professor Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Nakamura's breakthroughs with LEDs in the early 90s achieved in a short span what other researchers had spent decades trying to do, according to the foundation. Green LEDs are now saving electricity in traffic lights throughout the world, while white LEDs could revolutionize the lighting industry. Nakamura has also developed a blue laser that is employed in new high-definition DVD players.

The professor is the second winner of the Millennium Technology Prize; the first award went to Tim Berners-Lee, developer of the World Wide Web. The Millennium Technology Prize is the largest technology prize in the world, awarding one million Euros (about $1.25 million) to its winner; Nakamura plans to donate some of the award to universities and groups that help to implement solid-state lighting in developing countries. See the press releases from the Millennium Prize Foundation and UCSB.

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