Understanding this year’s Nobel Prize for the light emitting diode (LED)

Speaker Name: 
Elsa Garmire, Sydney E. Junkins
Speaker Title: 
Speaker Organization: 
Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College
Start Time: 
Monday, December 8, 2014 - 2:00pm
End Time: 
Monday, December 8, 2014 - 3:00pm
Baskin Engineering, Room 330
Holger Schmidt

Fifty years ago the Nobel Prize in Physics was given for the MASER
(Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), which had
been demonstrated in 1954. The MASER introduced the concepts that led to
the LASER, whose theory was introduced in 1958 and whose first
demonstration was in 1960. No one received the prize specifically for
the LASER, but the first related prize was for laser spectroscopy and
since then 19 researchers have received Nobel prizes for work related to
lasers. This year, 2014, the prize was given for the LED, even though
the first LED preceded the laser by many years. Why did the prize come
50 years later than the laser’s prize? Because LED’s had only niche
applications until they could be turned into white light sources that
could be used for illumination. Now, however, with long life and high
efficiency, LED’s are replacing both incandescent and fluorescent
lights. It has taken 50 years for the challenges motivated by this
technology to be solved. This talk will provide background about LED’s
in general, about the specific challenges that GaN-based devices
present, how they were solved, how LED’s as illumination sources have
developed, what challenges remain, and even a bit about government
policy. You will be left with an understanding of the importance of this
technology and why those responsible were honored with the prize.

Speaker bio:
Professor Garmire has been at Dartmouth College where she came as Dean
of Engineering in 1995. Prior to that she was at University of Southern
California where she was William Hogue Professor of Electrical
Engineering and Director of the Center for Laser Studies. She received
her undergraduate degree in Physics from Harvard University (Radcliffe
College) and her PhD from MIT for research under Charles Townes, Nobel
Prize winner for the MASER. She has guided 31 PhD theses and 12 MS
theses, publishing over 220 reviewed papers, all in the fields of lasers
and optics, including nonlinear optics, integrated optics and
opto-electronics. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering
and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a fellow of
IEEE, the Optical Society of America and the American Physical Society.