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Why It Was Almost Impossible to Make the Blue LED
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23,249,935 Views • Feb 8, 2024 • Click to toggle off description
The blue LED was supposed to be impossible—until a young engineer proposed a moonshot idea. Head to brilliant.org/veritasium to start your free 30-day trial, and the first 200 people get 20% off an annual premium subscription.

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters! Join this list to help us keep our videos free, forever:

Huge thanks to the UC Santa Barbara Materials Dept (ssleec.ucsb.edu/) for taking us around.
Thanks to Álvaro Bermejillo Seco for reviewing the science.
Thanks to these especially helpful sources:
Nobel Prize Biography - Shuji Nakamura - ve42.co/NakamuraNobel
Johnstone, B. (2015). Brilliant!. Prometheus Books. - ve42.co/Johnstone2015
Nakamura, S., Pearton, S., & Fasol, G. (2010). The Blue Laser Diode: The Complete Story. Springer. - ve42.co/Nakamura2010

   • How LED Works - Unravel the Mysteries...  
   • How diodes, LEDs and solar panels work  
   • How Blue LEDs Changed the World  
   • How Blue LEDs Were Invented - LGR Tec...  
Touchstone, L. A. (2022). Nick Holonyak Jr. University of Illinois. - ve42.co/Touchstone2022
Perry, T. S. (1995). The Unsung Inventor. IEEE Spectrum. - ve42.co/Perry1995
Chabay, R. & Sherwood, B. (2011). Matter & interactions (4th ed.), S2: Semiconductors. Wiley. - ve42.co/ChabaySherwood
How MOCVD Works via Aixtron - ve42.co/MOCVD
Vangala, S. R., et al. (2019). Epitaxial growth of ZnSe on GaAs. Journal of Crystal Growth. - ve42.co/Vangala2019
Nakamura, S. (1991). GaN Growth Using GaN Buffer Layer. JJAP. - ve42.co/Nakamura3rd1991
Amano, H., et al. (1989). P-Type Conduction in Mg-Doped GaN w/ LEEBI. JJAP. - ve42.co/Amano1989
Huang, M., et al. (2021). Defects in Mg–H‐Codoped GaN. Physica Status Solidi. - ve42.co/Huang2021
Schubert, E. F. (2006). Light Emitting Diodes, Ch 4: LED basics. Cambridge University Press. - ve42.co/RPI-LEDs
Kitada, C. (2001). Blue About Japan. Japan Inc. - ve42.co/Kitada2001
Whitaker, T. (2002). Nakamura loses Nichia patent battle. Optics.org. - ve42.co/NichiaSales3
Pirates Osaka. (2014). Nakamura awarded Nobel Prize in Physics. Hatena Blog. - ve42.co/NichiaSales1
Growth Bozu via Twitter. - ve42.co/NichiaSales2
Rose, J. (2014). Blue LEDs – Filling the world with new light. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. - ve42.co/Rose2014
Pattison, P. M., et al. (2017). LED lighting efficacy. Comptes Rendus Physique. - ve42.co/Pattison2017
Electricity pricing via EIA - ve42.co/ElectricityPricing
Lane, K., et al. (2023). Lighting. IEA. - ve42.co/LightingIEA
LED Footprint via The Climate Group - ve42.co/ClimateGroupLED
Nichia’s History via Nichia - ve42.co/NichiaHistory
Shuji Nakamura via Wikipedia - ve42.co/NakamuraWiki

Images & Video:
Lighting the World via UCTVInsight on YouTube - ve42.co/UCTVep2 & ve42.co/UCTVep3
Palo Alto Times 1971 Article via Newspapers.com - ve42.co/Newspapers
Nick Holonyak, Jr. and the LED via UIUC on YouTube - ve42.co/HolonyakIllinois
The Original Blue LED via Science History Institute on YouTube - ve42.co/OGBlueLED
Maxfield, M. (2022). Compound Semiconductors. EE Journal. - ve42.co/Maxfield2022
M. Stutzmann, et al. (2001). Playing with Polarity. pss (b). - ve42.co/Stutzman2001
Isamu Akasaki in 1995 via Andrey Nikolaev on YouTube - ve42.co/AsakiNikolaev
Pioneer TX-610 Stereo Tuner via Ian Marino on YouTube - ve42.co/StereoMarino
Shuji Nakamura via EPO on YouTube - ve42.co/NakamuraEPO
Nichia Campus via Nichia on LinkedIn - ve42.co/NichiaHQ
Nichia via TDElektronik on YouTube - ve42.co/NichiaTDE
Violeds Sterilization of COVID-19 via Seoul Viosys - ve42.co/SterilizationUV

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters:
Chris Harper, Max Paladino, Balkrishna Heroor, Adam Foreman, Orlando Bassotto, Tj Steyn, meg noah, KeyWestr, TTST, John H. Austin, Jr., john kiehl, Anton Ragin, Diffbot, Gnare, Dave Kircher, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Josh Hibschman, Juan Benet, David Johnston, Ubiquity Ventures, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Stephen Wilcox, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Michael Krugman, Sam Lutfi

Directed by Emily Zhang
Written by Emily Zhang, Ricky Nathvani, and Derek Muller
Edited by Trenton Oliver
Illustrated by Jakub Misiek
Animated by Fabio Albertelli, Mike Radjabov, David Szakaly, Ivy Tello, and Alondra Vitae
Filmed by Derek Muller, Raquel Nuno, and Trenton Oliver
Additional research by Gregor Čavlović
Produced by Emily Zhang, Han Evans, Gregor Čavlović, and Derek Muller

Thumbnail by Ren Hurley
Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images and Pond5
Music from Epidemic Sound
Metadata And Engagement

Views : 23,249,935
Genre: Education
Date of upload: Feb 8, 2024 ^^

Rating : 4.971 (5,053/703,739 LTDR)

99.29% of the users lieked the video!!
0.71% of the users dislieked the video!!
User score: 98.94- Masterpiece Video

RYD date created : 2024-07-19T14:22:37.953123Z
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YouTube Comments - 26,529 Comments

Top Comments of this video!! :3


5 months ago

It’s so dumb how it’s never just “this guy changed the world and got compensated fairly for it” there’s always some corporate bs in the way

31K |


5 months ago

What a success story! I wish he was successful in compensation side in Japan, but I guess they lost him because of that. Happy to see him thrive now.

52K |


2 months ago

Inventors getting screwed by companies seems like a common story

838 |


1 month ago

“in front of the house was ocean. blue always” that statement made me cry. love this story

546 |


5 months ago

In the mid 1990s, I was working in a research lab where we were in competition with Nichia in the development of GaN blue LED and lasers, also using our home-grown MOCVD machines. Dr. Nakamura was always 2 (or more!) steps ahead of us. I still vividly remember when we got our hands on a prototype of his deep blue LEDs after a conference. We turned it on in the lab, with lights down, expecting a weak blue emission, as we got from our own devices. It came on so bright and so blue, it illuminated the whole room! It blew our mind, we couldn’t believe it. How had he done that? He was the blue LED magician. Nobel prize well deserved, and then some.

5.7K |


4 months ago

Bro really went from "Ignored for not having a PhD" to "Nobel Prize winner"

6K |


1 month ago

I used to do undergrad research at UC Santa Barbara, the lab I worked in was on the same floor where Nakamora works. One time I went to go to the bathroom and saw him brushing his teeth and getting ready for the day at one of the sinks. that guy still lives and breathes his lab work :)

211 |


2 months ago

I can't believe you interviewed Nakamura-sensei himself. Loves his humour and humble personality in the video. Thanks for making this documentary. I learnt a lot about the making of LEDs.

320 |


5 months ago

So he was underfunded, underappreciated and undersold, yet he almost single-handedly created one of the most important technologies in the modern world, a true legend. And I got to learn his story from an interesting, high quality source. Thanks again Derek

7.4K |


5 months ago

One of the greatest examples of how we only see the end result of hard work. My man worked 84 hour weeks for over 18 months just to hit the first clue that he was on the right path. That's a level of tenacity that I cannot help but admire.

3.5K |


2 months ago

There was a drama in that blue led light. Nakamura deserves a monument for his invention. Imagine how he helped us aside from lights but to the less emission of CO2. He is a hero and should be remembered on the generations to come.

107 |


1 month ago

Which is why his nobel prize was well deserved. He changed everything.

37 |


5 months ago

I came here to learn why blue was so difficult to make… I didn’t know this was the story of a man who discovered a landmark piece of technology. Just the thought of him staring at a small blue light, completely understanding it was his life’s work and his masterpiece. True happiness in a blue glow.

10K |


5 months ago

Disobedience in Japan is extreme rare. This guy is TWO true heroes.

3.6K |


2 months ago

Would love to thank this guy for bringing to life the colors of literally every electronic out their that we take for granted

41 |


1 month ago

they deserve more than a nobel pize. unlike so many other nobel prizes this invention really benefits humankind on a huge magnitude

17 |


5 months ago

Mr. Nakamura is a hidden giant everyone should know more about. Incredible tenacity and great video.

6.5K |


5 months ago

Don’t ever go back making “television”. This is so much better. A great story from beginning to end with a spectacular entry of the main character. No spoilers, no previews. YouTube at its best. TV will never reach this level of storytelling. Hats off to your illustrator too.

4.2K |


1 month ago

This video has everything I appreciate in videos: an informative, representative and intriguing title and thumbnail, a great explanation that works without the visuals but is supported by strong visuals, proper immersion and a good build-up making me root for the protagonist, and even great production quality for the story-telling. I came here knowing very little about LEDs and leave with a bit more knowledge and a lot more appreciation! The best thing is that I never was very good at science and physics, but you managed to keep me on board all the way; I may not understand it as well as others, but I didn't feel left behind. Thank you for broadening my horizon a little today!

12 |


1 month ago

I remember that 1994 era very well, when I was hankering for someone to come up with hi-res color flat-panel displays to replace the bulky CRT I was using for my personal desktop computer while working on my undergraduate studies in electrical engineering. You shed a lot of light on a complex technology that was in development at the time and that I knew nothing about until I saw your very instructive video. Thank you for the work that you do to make your knowledge available to all.

8 |

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