Brilliant! Shuji Nakamura and the Revolution in Lighting Technology

Bob Johnstone, Author . Prometheus $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59102-462-0

Australian technology writer Johnstone (Never Mind the Laptops ) heralds what he believes will be a revolution in lighting: light emitting diodes, or LEDs, "tiny specks of semiconductor material that shine when hooked up to a voltage." They consume 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours. According to Johnstone, in front of the revolution is Shuji Nakamura, a Japanese scientist who solved a series of difficult technical problems to develop a blue LED bright enough to be used in commercial settings. Johnstone is utterly enamored of Nakamura ("Shuji took off. It was as if he had rockets in his feet like Mighty Atom, his boyhood comic book superhero"), and two section of the book cover his technical triumph and the legal and professional complications that accompanied his departure from his Japanese employer. This section provides an interesting window into the differences between the Japanese and American approaches to scientific research. The book's other sections expound on the present and future uses of LEDs, for which Johnstone is evangelical in his enthusiasm. Since the technical descriptions of the chemical processes that produce blue LED are difficult, in the end, average readers may find Johnstone's infatuation with Nakamura and LEDs hard to share. Illus. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 347 pages - 978-1-63388-062-7
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