Awarded annually by the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, the Harvey Prize includes a $75,000 stipend in recognition of great contributions to science and technology and human health. Nakamura, who is a professor of materials in the College of Engineering University of California, Santa Barbara and co-director of the Solid State Lighting and Energy Center, received the award for inventing Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs -- blue, green, and white light-emitting diodes and the blue laser diode. He and a UCSB team also developed the world's first nonpolar blue-violet laser diodes.
According to the prize announcement issued by the Technion, Nakamura was chosen for the Harvey Prize for "his seminal contributions to light sources based on nitride containing III-V semiconductors. Nakamura pioneered the research that led to the first semiconductor laser producing blue emission, which increases significantly the density of optical storage devices. His work on nitride containing light emitting diodes led eventually to the white light LED, which totally revolutionized lighting concepts. These white light LEDs will dominate light-producing systems, as they are significantly more efficient than conventional incandescent light bulbs, ensuring huge reductions in energy consumption."