3 Japan-born physicists express joy at winning Nobel Prize

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GRENOBLE, France — Three Japan-born physicists on Oct. 7 expressed joy at winning the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes, with one of them saying he always wanted to help others through his research.

“I’ve always worked from the desire to help others and I feel happy” that the invention received recognition, Hiroshi Amano, 54, a professor at Nagoya University, told reporters in Grenoble, France where he was visiting for joint research with a French company.

Amano learned about winning the prize while making a flight connection in Frankfurt. “I was so surprised,” he said.

Amano worked in his laboratory almost every day, including weekends. He said having a strong belief and a never-give-up spirit are important, and that he has e-mailed his family to thank them for allowing him to dedicate himself to his research. 

Shuji Nakamura, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was born in Japan but obtained U.S. nationality, said he is happy that his LED dream came true.

“Nowadays we can buy energy-efficient LED light bulbs at the supermarket and help reduce energy use,” he said at the university. “I hope this helps reduce global warming too.”

Nakamura, 60, who fought a lawsuit with Japanese chemical maker Nichia Corp. where he used to work over the patent rights to his invention, said “anger” had encouraged his research.

He said Japanese companies have succeeded in producing high quality products but failed to globalize them, and thus have lost markets to U.S. and Chinese rivals.

At the same time, he thanked Nichia’s late founder Nobuo Ogawa for his understanding of Nakamura’s research without regard to commercial concerns.

Isamu Akasaki, 85, professor at Meijo University in Nagoya, said at a press conference at the university that there is “no greater honor” than to receive the award.

“I didn’t think about whether I would succeed or fail,” Akasaki said, although he saw many scientists give up on efforts to develop blue LED. “I didn’t change my thinking even a bit and did what I wanted to do.”

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