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Why It Was Almost Impossible to Make the Blue LED
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14,784,302 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 to start your free 30-day trial, and the first 200 people get 20% off an annual premium subscription.

If you’re looking for a molecular modeling kit, try Snatoms, a kit I invented where the atoms snap together magnetically -

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

   • How LEDs Work - 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. -
Perry, T. S. (1995). The Unsung Inventor. IEEE Spectrum. -
Chabay, R. & Sherwood, B. (2011). Matter & interactions (4th ed.), S2: Semiconductors. Wiley. -
How MOCVD Works via Aixtron -
Vangala, S. R., et al. (2019). Epitaxial growth of ZnSe on GaAs. Journal of Crystal Growth. -
Nakamura, S. (1991). GaN Growth Using GaN Buffer Layer. JJAP. -
Amano, H., et al. (1989). P-Type Conduction in Mg-Doped GaN w/ LEEBI. JJAP. -
Huang, M., et al. (2021). Defects in Mg–H‐Codoped GaN. Physica Status Solidi. -
Schubert, E. F. (2006). Light Emitting Diodes, Ch 4: LED basics. Cambridge University Press. -
Kitada, C. (2001). Blue About Japan. Japan Inc. -
Whitaker, T. (2002). Nakamura loses Nichia patent battle. -
Pirates Osaka. (2014). Nakamura awarded Nobel Prize in Physics. Hatena Blog. -
Growth Bozu via Twitter. -
Rose, J. (2014). Blue LEDs – Filling the world with new light. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. -
Pattison, P. M., et al. (2017). LED lighting efficacy. Comptes Rendus Physique. -
Electricity pricing via EIA -
Lane, K., et al. (2023). Lighting. IEA. -
LED Footprint via The Climate Group -
Nichia’s History via Nichia -
Shuji Nakamura via Wikipedia -

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

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,
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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
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Views : 14,784,302
Genre: Education
Date of upload: Feb 8, 2024 ^^

Rating : 4.973 (3,817/558,214 LTDR)
RYD date created : 2024-02-27T00:04:01.754219Z
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YouTube Comments - 22,697 Comments

Top Comments of this video!! :3


2 weeks 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.

47K |


4 days ago

Finally an extensive video on Nakamura and his invention. He deserves it! This was a real revolution (which took years and years of research), with an enormous impact. A Nobel prize is nice, but it's better when people really understand the importance of what he did.

474 |


3 days ago

As a former physicist, your videos are so good because animations provide a very clear non-verbose description of my physics courses. Electrons don't orbit in circles around the nucleus, holes vacancy is beautifully composited with electron movement, ... These animations are worth a lot of words. Thank you for sharing your videos on Youtube for free. I'll now watch them again with my kid to explain how LEDs work. Every video you make makes me want to share it. Thanks.

160 |


5 days ago

Nakamura seems so humble. It's so sad how he was treated by a company he was so loyal to after working tirelessly to overcome all the odds. The man was never properly compensated for his work but the only time he asked for more was when they tried to take everything away when all he wanted to do was move on. He even tried to settle their differences and they refused. I imagine his old boss must have passed or something because I don't imagine him letting his son in law treat Nakamura that way.

109 |


3 days ago

Personally for me ........ this Japanese gentleman and a pure scientist, Mr. NAKAMURA, is a perfect example of the hard working person and determination in development and creation. I pay a great respect for him !!!! Amen. thanksdoc

136 |


5 days ago

The whole sequence from 23:40 onwards had me on the edge of my seat. We had been following this story, step by step for each of its challenges and prerequisites. The animations did a stellar job of keeping the audience engaged as the music built up the tension until the final release when we see the finished anatomy of the blue LED--panning out to this beautiful radiant blue light held in Nakamura's hands. In a way, his story reminds me of Thomas Edison's story, and it carries a similar weight and carries the torch in modernizing how we illuminate the world.

Thank you for the outstanding video, Veritasium, and thank you Dr. Nakamura for inventing the blue LED.

92 |


2 weeks ago

Everything else aside, your explanation of semiconductors & the stadium seats synergy made this complex topic so easy to understand. I hope they show this in schools.

7.9K |


1 day ago

Thank you so much @veritasium for making this video. I'm a PhD student in India currently and LED Materials was my Master's thesis project. I read so much about this from an academic perspective, but the way you presented it as a story, personal and academic, is truly brilliant and heartwarming. Prof Nakamura is an inspiration for budding scientists across the world. I'm sharing this video with all my colleagues and professors, and budding researchers as a story of inspiration and scientific genius.
Hats off to you for making this video.
Love from India.

27 |


3 days ago

As an electrical engineer
This guy is my hero
He changed the whole world

89 |


3 days ago

This is a GREAT video. The two other Nobel laureates seem to have set the stage, but Dr. Nakamura's underdog tenacity was over the top. I hope he is now super well compensated and happy.

33 |


4 days ago

I remember when these came out, it was a couple of years after studying electronic engineering and we only had red or green LEDs when building things. This work enabled so much.

26 |


4 days ago

I loved how you first explained how the leds work and the difficulty in manufaturing were and then catching up to the present day. Such a great story!

35 |


2 weeks 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

19K |


4 days ago

man, he is such a humble guy for being one of the biggest factors in so many revolutions of modern tech, even at this point he focuses all of his mojo into new tech! all you can do is feel inspired!

61 |


4 days ago

This helped me understand the band gap theory and its relation to insulators, semiconductors, and metallic solids. Had some trouble understanding it in my PChem II class. I love that you also went over n and p doping for silicon.

7 |


5 days ago

This is one of your best episodes! I never thought a science documentary be uplifting and motivational! The story can be made into a Hollywood movie!

12 |


3 days ago

Wow! Very inspiring story! One of my friend told me very very long back that invention of blue LED was very tough. I never bothered to ask or continue to check why it was tough to make. After watching this amazing video, i truly understand….

Most important piece i liked from this video is “this great invention of Mr.Nakamura is not about his knowledge but his determination, critical-thinking & problem-solving”

5 |


4 days ago

I remember reading about the development of the blue LED in an example essay when I took the SAT. It’s good to learn about it in more depth!

5 |


2 weeks ago

This is great, I knew the story already, but the presentation is excellent.

3K |


4 days ago

I love how in-depth this is.

4 |

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