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Isamu Akasaki

Isamu Akasaki
Born (1929-01-30) January 30, 1929 (age 91)
Chiran, Kawanabe District, Kagoshima Prefecture
Institutions Meijo University
Nagoya University
Alma mater Kyoto University
Nagoya University
Doctoral advisor Template:If empty
Notable awards Asahi Prize (2001)
Takeda Award (2002)
IEEE Edison Medal (2011)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2014)
Charles Stark Draper Prize (2015)

Isamu Akasaki (赤﨑 勇 Akasaki Isamu?, born January 30, 1929) is a Japanese scientist, specializing in the field of semiconductor technology and Nobel Prize laureate, best known for inventing the bright gallium nitride (GaN) p-n junction blue LED in 1989 and subsequently the high-brightness GaN blue LED as well.[1][2][3][4][5]

For this and other achievements Isamu Akasaki was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology in 2009[6] and the IEEE Edison Medal in 2011.[7] He was also awarded the 2014 Nobel prize in Physics, together with Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura,[8]"for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes, which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources".


Born in Kagoshima Prefecture, Akasaki graduated from Kyoto University in 1952, and obtained a Dr.Eng. degree in Electronics from Nagoya University in 1964. He started working on GaN-based blue LEDs in the late 1960s. Step by step, he improved the quality of GaN crystals and device structures[9] at Matsushita Research Institute Tokyo, Inc.(MRIT), where he decided to adopt metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE) as the preferred growth method for GaN.

In 1981 he started afresh the growth of GaN by MOVPE at Nagoya University, and in 1985 he and his group succeeded in growing high-quality GaN on sapphire substrate by pioneering the low-temperature (LT) buffer layer technology.[10][11]

This high-quality GaN enabled them to discover p-type GaN by doping with magnesium (Mg) and subsequent activation by electron irradiation (1989), to produce the first GaN p-n junction blue/UV LED (1989), and to achieve conductivity control of n-type GaN (1990)[12] and related alloys (1991)[13] by doping with silicon (Si), enabling the use of hetero structures and multiple quantum wells in the design and structure of more efficient p-n junction light emitting structures.

They achieved stimulated emission from the GaN firstly at room temperature in 1990,[14] and developed in 1995 the stimulated emission at 388 nm with pulsed current injection from high-quality AlGaN/GaN/GaInN quantum well device.[15] They verified quantum size effect (1991)[16] and quantum confined Stark effect (1997)[17] in nitride system, and in 2000 showed theoretically the orientation dependence of piezoelectric field and the existence of non-/semi-polar GaN crystals,[18] which have triggered today’s world-wide efforts to grow those crystals for application to more efficient light emitters.

Nagoya University Akasaki Institute

Professor Akasaki’s patents were produced from these inventions, and the patents have been rewarded as royalties. Nagoya University Akasaki Institute[19] opened on October 20, 2006. The cost of construction of the institute was covered with the patent royalty income to the university, which was also used for a wide range of activities in Nagoya University. The institute consists of an LED gallery to display the history of blue LED research/developments and applications, an office for research collaboration, laboratories for innovative research, and Professor Akasaki's office on the top sixth floor. The institute is situated in the center of the collaboration research zone in Nagoya University Higashiyama campus.

Professional record

  • 1952-1959 Research Scientist at Kobe Kogyo Corporation (now, Fujitsu Ltd.)
  • 1959-1964 Research Associate, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, Department of Electronics, Nagoya University
  • 1964-1974 Head of Basic Research Laboratory 4, Matsushita Research Institute Tokyo, Inc.
  • 1974-1981 General Manager of Semiconductor Department (in the same institute as above)
  • 1981-1992 Professor in the Department of Electronics at Nagoya University
  • 1987-1990 Project Leader of “Research and Development of GaN-based Blue Light–Emitting Diode” sponsored by Japan Science and Technology Agency(JST)
  • 1992–present Professor Emeritus of Nagoya University, Professor of Meijo University
  • 1993-1999 Project Leader of “Research and Development of GaN-based Short-Wavelength Semiconductor Laser Diode” sponsored by JST
  • 1995-1996 Visiting Professor of Research Center for Interface Quantum Electronics at Hokkaido University
  • 1996-2001 Project Leader of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science(JSPS)’s “Research for the Future" program”
  • 1996-2004 Project Leader of “High-Tech Research Center for Nitride Semiconductors" at Meijo University, sponsored by MEXT
  • 2001–Present Research Fellow at Akasaki Research Center of Nagoya University
  • 2003-2006 Chairman of “R&D Strategic Committee on the Wireless Devices Based on Nitride Semiconductors” sponsored by METI
  • 2004–Present Director of Research Center for Nitride Semiconductors at Meijo University

Honors and awards

Scientific and academic

  • 1989 Japanese Association for Crystal Growth (JACG) Award
  • 1991 Chu-Nichi Culture Prize[20]
  • 1994 Technological Contribution Award, Japanese Association for Crystal Growth in commemoration of its 20th anniversary
  • 1995 Heinrich Welker Gold Medal, the International Symposium on Compound Semiconductors
  • 1996 Engineering Achievement Award, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers / Lasers Electro-Optics Society
  • 1998 Inoue Harushige Award, Japan Science and Technology Agency
  • 1998 C&C Prize, the Nippon Electric Company Corporation[21]
  • 1998 Laudise Prize, the International Organization for Crystal Growth[22]
  • 1998 Jack A. Morton Award, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers[23]
  • 1998 Rank Prize, the Rank Prize Foundation[24]
  • 1999 Fellow, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers[25]
  • 1999 Gordon E. Moore Award, the Electrochemical Society[26]
  • 1999 Honoris Causa Doctorate, the University of Montpellier II
  • 1999 Toray Science and Technology Prize, Toray Science Foundation[27]
  • 2001 Asahi Prize, the Asahi Shinbun Cultural Foundation[28]
  • 2001 Honoris Causa Doctorate, Linkoping University
  • 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award, the Japan Society of Applied Physics
  • 2002 Fujihara Prize, the Fujihara Foundation of Science[29]
  • 2002 Takeda Award, the Takeda Foundation[30]
  • 2003 President's Award, the Science Council of Japan (SCJ)[31]
  • 2003 Solid State Devices & Materials (SSDM) Award
  • 2004 Tokai TV Culture Prize
  • 2004 University Professor, Nagoya University
  • 2006 John Bardeen Award, the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society[32]
  • 2006 Outstanding Achievement Award, the Japanese Association for Crystal Growth
  • 2007 Honorable Lifetime Achievement Award, the 162nd Research Committee on Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Photonic and Electronic Devices, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
  • 2008 Foreign Associate, the US National Academy of Engineering[33]
  • 2009 Kyoto Prize Advanced Technology, the Inamori Foundation[34]
  • 2010 Lifetime Professor, Meijo University
  • 2011 Edison Medal, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers[7]
  • 2011 Special Award for Intellectual Property Activities, the Japan Science and Technology Agency
  • 2011 Minami-Nippon Culture Prize-Honorable Prize
  • 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics together with prof. Hiroshi Amano and prof. Shuji Nakamura[8]
  • 2015 Charles Stark Draper Prize



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  3. ^ Hiroshi Amano, Masahiro Kito, Kazumasa Hiramatsu and Isamu Akasaki: "P-Type Conduction in Mg-doped GaN Treated with Low-Energy Electron Beam Irradiation (LEEBI)", Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. Vol. 28, No.12, December 1989, pp. L2112-L2114, (accepted for pub. Nov. 1989).
  4. ^ I. Akasaki, H. Amano, M. Kito and K. Hiramatsu :”Photoluminescence of Mg doped p-type GaN and electroluminescence of GaN p-n junction LED” J. Cryst. Growth, Vol. 48&49 pp.666-670, 1991
  5. ^ Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, Kenji Itoh, Norikatsu Koide and Katsuhide Manabe: “GaN-based UV/blue light emitting devices”, Inst. Phys. Conf. Ser. No.129, pp. 851-856, 1992
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  7. ^ a b "IEEE Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics - Press Release". Nobel Media AB 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  9. ^ Y. Ohki, Y. Toyoda, H. Kobayasi and I. Akasaki: “Fabrication and properties of a practical blue-emitting GaN m-i-s diode. Inst. Phys. Conf. Ser. No. 63, pp. 479-484 (Proc. of the 9th Intl. Symposium on Gallium Arsenide and Related Compounds, 1981).
  10. ^ H. Amano, N. Sawaki I. Akasaki and Y. Toyoda: "Metalorganic vapor phase epitaxial growth of a high quality GaN film using an AlN buffer layer,"
  11. ^ Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, Yasuo Koide, Kazumasa Hiramatsu and Nobuhiko Sawaki: "Effects of AlN buffer layer on crystallographic structure and on electrical and optical properties of GaN and Ga1-xAl xN (0<x < = 0,4) films grown on sapphire substrate by MOVPE", J. Crystal Growth, Vol.98 (1989), pp.209-219
  12. ^ H. Amano and I. Akasaki: "Fabrication and Properties of GaN p-n Junction LED", Mater. Res. Soc. Extended Abstract (EA-21), pp.165-168, 1990, (Fall Meeting 1989)
  13. ^ Hiroshi Murakami, Tsunemori Asahi, Hiroshi Amano, Kazumasa Hiramatsu, Nobuhiko Sawaki and Isamu Akasaki: "Growth of Si-doped AlxGa 1-xN on (0001) sapphire substrate by metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy", J. Crystal Growth, Vol.115 (1991), pp. 648-651.
  14. ^ H. Amano, T. Asahi and I. Akasaki: “Stimulated Emission Near Ultraviolet at Room Temperature from a GaN Film Grown on Sapphire by MOVPE Using an AlN Buffer Layer” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. Vol. 29, pp. L205-L206, 1990.
  15. ^ Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, Shigetoshi Sota, Hiromitsu Sakai, Toshiyuki Tanaka and Masayoshi Koike: "Stimulated Emission by Current Injection from an AlGaN/GaN/GaInN Quantum Well Device" Jpn. J. Appl. Phys., Vol. 34 (1995) pp. L1517-1519, Part 2, No.11B, 15 November 1995 (accepted for pub. October 16, 1995).
  16. ^ K. Itoh, T. Kawamoto, H. Amano, K. Hiramatsu and I. Akasaki: “Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxial Growth and Properties of GaN/Al0.1Ga0.9N Layered Structures” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. Vol. 30, pp.1924-1927, 1991.
  17. ^ T. Takeuchi, S. Sota, M. Katsuragawa, M. Komori, H. Takeuchi, H. Amano and I. Akasaki: “Quantum-Confined Stark Effect due to Piezoelectric Fields in GaInN Strained Quantum Wells” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys., Vol.36, Pt. 2, No. 4A, pp. L382-385, 1997.
  18. ^ Tetsuya Takeuchi, Hiroshi Amano and Isamu Akasaki: "Theoretical Study of Orientation Dependence of Piezoelectric Effects in Wurtzite Strained GaInN/GaN Heterostructures and Quantum Wells", Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. Vol. 39, pp. 413-416, Part1, No.2A, Feb.2000. (accepted for pub., November 1, 1999).
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Additional reading

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