The Global Laureate at The World Future Energy Summit-2016
Shuji Nakamura shared his revolutionary views and his success story as a headliner of World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Global Energy Prize Laureate and LED-pioneer took part in the panel session “Creating world-class partnerships between research industry, government and academia to build long-term sustainable solutions”.
The experts panel also included Dr. Andre Faaji, Academic Director at Energy Academy Europe , Alejandro Rios Galvan, Director of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium and Professor of Practice - Engineering Systems and Management at Masdar Institute, Anup Jacob, Partner at Masdar Capital, John Webley, Founder, Chairman and CEO at Trevi Systems, Linda Zou, Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Masdar Institute.
The session focused on what collaborative and successful partnerships between governments, business and science can deliver. Translating knowledge into innovation is crucial for economic competitiveness and addressing our shared climate challenge - providing affordable and reliable energy for everyone and ensuring energy security. Yet transforming scientific research into commercial clean energy remains a complex process involving a broad range of stakeholders. First, that is achieving commercialization of early stage research through university and industry research collaboration. Second, it is translation of novel clean technologies into commercial solutions. Third, it is financing for early and later stage clean tech to get from the lab to commercialization.
As one of the most famous innovators of the XXI century and a special guest of the panel session Prof. Nakamura was interviewed on-stage by the Vice President for Research, Masdar Institute Dr. Steve Griffith.
First of all, Mr. Nakamura shared his view on why is the invention of the blue-light emitting diode is so important for today's clean energy industry.
"- LED Light bulbs are more than ten times efficient than incandescent bulbs, and they last for 50 years! At their current adoption rates, by 2020 LEDs can reduce the world’s need for electricity by the equivalent of nearly 60 nuclear power plants.
LEDs are also efficient enough to be driven by a simple solar cell powered battery. Now this clean and inexpensive technology can help bring light to millions of people around the world who don’t have access to electricity."
Here comes the second question:
Green, yellow and orange LEDs were first developed in the early 1970s but your blue LED was not developed until the early 1990’s. Why was the blue LED development such a challenge and what organizational factors came into play for the success to happen?
Mr. Nakamura elaborates:
"- In 1980’s, there were two kinds of materials available to develop a blue LED, ZnSe or GaN. Basically, all of the scientists working on blue LEDs selected ZnSe. I selected GaN because I thought that it would be easy to publish papers because there were only a small number of published papers on GaN at that time. I never expected I could invent the blue LED using GaN because it was so unpopular due to poor crystal quality. Then, fortunately, I succeeded in inventing the first highly efficient blue LED using GaN-based materials in 1993. Chairman and president of the small company was one of the best venture capitalists (VC) for me. Without the best VC, Nobuo Ogawa, I would not have invented the blue LED."
Moving breakthrough science to commercial innovation is a long journey that few people have been able to successfully take. Mr. Nakamura's success in this area is absolutely obvious. In 2015 he received the Global Energy Prize for the invention, commercialization and development of energy-efficient white LED lighting technology! How did he manage to make the connection between science and commercially viable innovation?
"- In my case, I worked for a small company in Japan. The small company was interested only in making a profit. If there were no profit by selling the products, the company would go bankrupt. When I joined the company, I was interested mainly in science initially. When I worked for the science, I did not have enough time to make the products. One year later after joining the company, my task became only making the products. For the first ten years, my products of conventional infrared and red LEDs had poor sales. Then, I switched to blue LED research desperately by selecting GaN. My main focus was making the products of the blue LED, not for science of the blue LEDs. Then I could make the first high efficient blue LED in 1993."
And here is what also interesting :
In 2008 Dr. Nakamura and his colleagues decided to go against manufacturing trends in the LED industry and pursue a new platform with high potential for better technical performance and lower cost than the incumbent technologies. His idea for GaN on GaN LED production resulted in the founding of Soraa. So here is the question: what he feels are the key factors for technological innovation inspiration and startup company success?
"- In 2000, my colleagues, Professors Steven DenBaars, James Speck, and I started GaN on GaN LED research at UCSB because nobody else was working on GaN on GaN LED. Initially, the results of the LED were not good. In 2007, we made a big breakthrough of the GaN on GaN LED technology. We published the paper. One of the best, VC, Vino Kosla contacted us to ask us do a start-up company. Then, we cofounded Soraa to develop the next generation of GaN on GaN LED lighting products in 2008. The biggest market of the LED was white LED. All of the white LEDs were made by using blue LED at that time. We developed a violet LED to make the white LED because there were many kinds of phosphors available to make the white by using the violet LEDs. Also, no other company was working on violet LEDs to make the white LEDs for the general lighting application. Finally, we could develop the most beautiful white LED lamp with the highest CRI of 95 and the highest efficiency. These LED products produce bright high quality white light, which we believe is better than current LEDs. The most important thing for a start-up company is to try to develop something, which nobody has challenged yet."
The WFES 2016 takes place in Abu Dhabi, UAE starting Jan, 18 and ending Jan, 21. It is set to attract more than 30000 attendees from 170 countries and more than 650 exhibiting companies and will bring some of the world's most influential leaders to the stage, including ministers, regulators, top-level industry professionals and chief economists who will discuss impending issues in the renewable energy sector. Topics to be covered range from addressing challenges faced by the region's utilities providers and innovative approaches to finance renewable energy projects to trends that will shape the industry over the next two decades.