UChicago’s Matthew Tirrell congratulates Shuji Nakamura on Nobel Prize in Physics

Matthew Tirrell, the Pritzker Director of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering, offered warm congratulations on Tuesday for his former colleague Shuji Nakamura, who was named co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.


In a congratulatory email to Nakamura this morning, Tirrell wrote, “Your keen insight and persistent, creative work to make solid-state lighting a reality are changing the world for the better for everyone.”


In his former position as dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Tirrell played an energetic role in the successful effort to recruit Nakamura to the school in 2000, in recognition of the research that led to Nakamura’s Nobel Prize. Nakamura remains a professor of materials and of electrical and computer engineering at UCSB.

Nakamura and two others share this year’s Nobel in Physics “for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.” Sharing the prize with Nakamura are Isamu Akasaki of Meijo and Najoya universities in Japan, and Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University.

“UCSB already had a strong effort in solid-state lighting research at that time, but Shuji’s accomplishments in this field were unprecedented, and he became an even more prominent international scientific figure after he joined the faculty,” Tirrell said Tuesday morning, shortly after sending a congratulatory email to his former UCSB colleague.

“His key contribution was an ability to process materials, the wide-band gap semiconductors such as gallium nitride and related ones, with superior quality and perfection in order to get the blue light emission that was the missing ingredient in solid-state lighting,” Tirrell said, “His efforts in this direction, first at Nichia Chemical, then with colleagues at UC Santa Barbara, pushed solid-state lighting to the reality it is today.”