Nobel Prize Illuminates Power of Light

In recent years, the Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to scientists for discoveries of:

— The accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae.
— Methods to enable manipulation of individual quantum systems.
— A mechanism contributing to the understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles.

Given that history, it might be surprising that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics recently went to three scientists for inventing a new light source—the blue light-emitting diode (LED).

I was happy to see it, as were my colleagues here at Stack. We’re devoting ourselves to bringing the world a better lightbulb, and the recognition of the importance of new lighting sources by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was welcome news.

The scientists’ discovery “triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology,” the academy wrote. Red and green diodes had been around for along time. Without blue light, though, white lamps could not be created.

The Nobel prize winners, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, succeeded where everyone else had failed.

White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long lasting and energy efficient. Since about one-fourth of the world’s electricity consumption is used for lighting, LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources, the academy says. They may also help increase of the quality of life for more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, the academy stated. Why? That’s how many people lack access to electricity grids. The low power requirements of LEDs mean they can be powered by cheap, local solar power instead.

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. forecasts that the LED lighting market will grow rapidly in the next decade. It calculates the LED share in general lighting will be at 45% in 2016 and almost 70% in 2020.

McKinsey also notes that more than 30% of light energy consumption is wasted, on average, when spaces and rooms are not in use.

Here at Stack, we aim to cut into that waste.

Our LED lightbulb, Alba, is the world’s first responsive lightbulb.

Packed with light and motion sensors, it knows to douse or dim the lights when people leave rooms or when natural sunlight does the job. Alba also changes the color of light to better match the time and mood of the day. Not only will a responsive lighting situation cut down on energy waste, but it’ll make for a better lighting experience.

The academy called the blue LED a “new light to illuminate the world.” We’ve created a better way to use those lights.