Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan, along with Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, received the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday. The trio invented "efficient blue light-emitting diodes," and their invention "has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources," according to the Nobel Academy.
The Nobel Academy added that the light-emitting diodes, a.k.a. LEDs, were "revolutionary," because the LED lights save energy and are long-lasting.
"Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps," the academy said in a statement. And the LED lamp "holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids." Since LED lamps have lower power requirements, they can be powered by solar power.
The scientists worked on the invention both together and separately, The New York Times reports, until they "found a way to produce blue light beams from semiconductors in the early 1990s." While others had produced red and green diodes, the trio was the first to produce blue diodes. Those blue diodes "spurred the development of LED technology," according to The Associated Press.
The trio earned a prize of $1.1 million, which they will receive at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10. --Meghan DeMaria