On Tuesday, Oct. 7, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that they awarded the prize to Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University in Japan, and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara for:
"...having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source — the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources."
That's all well and good, but it seems like a pretty simple invention — a better light bulb — and simple inventions don't win Nobel prizes. So why was their work so special?