Dr. Isamu Akasaki
Dr. Isamu Akasaki Draper Prize
Professor, Meijo University
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  • Draper
Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering
Go To Award

Isamu Akasaki is a professor of Meijo University and a Distinguished University Professor of Nagoya University. His persistent research efforts have resulted in the technology behind today’s high-brightness display lighting and advanced entertainment devices.

During the late 1960s Akasaki began researching solutions to the roadblocks that prevented realization of high-performance blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes. His work using gallium nitride (GaN) materials paid off in the 1990s with pioneering developments that led to high-brightness blue, green, and white LEDs and high-performance blue-violet semiconductor lasers. His work has influenced all subsequent developments on these LEDs and laser diodes and has enabled devices such as the blu-ray disc player, white illumination sources, and solid-state full-color displays. In 1985 he and his group created extremely high-quality GaN by pioneering the low-temperature buffer layer technology in metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy. Then, using the high-quality GaN, they achieved the following firsts in 1989: low-resistive p-type GaN by doping with magnesium (Mg) and activating it by electron bombardment (LEEBI), conductivity control of n-type GaN by doping with silicon (Si), and p-n junction GaN-based blue LEDs. These achievements, made at Nagoya University, were necessary for the development of GaN as the wide bandgap semiconductor system to enable the new light source.

Akasaki went on to demonstrate stimulated emission in the ultraviolet region with optical excitation from GaN at room temperature (1990) and electric current–injected stimulated emission (1995) ultraviolet/purple-blue laser diodes (1996). His inventions launched a new market for optoelectronic devices, and the Akasaki Institute at Nagoya University was founded in 2006 based on royalties from his patents.

Akasaki is an IEEE Fellow and 2011 winner of the IEEE Edison Medal, “For seminal and pioneering contributions to the development of nitride-based semiconductor materials and optoelectronic devices, including visible wave length LEDs and lasers.” He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014 with Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes.

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  • Draper
  • 2015
  • For the invention, development, and commercialization of materials and processes for light-emitting diodes (LEDs).