An exclusive interview with Professor Shuji Nakamura, winner of 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics

chat  Professor Nakamura spoke to CREST on a wide range of topics during his recent trip to Malaysia for the official launching of UCSB’s collaboration with CREST to do LED research in Malaysia.

interview-with-shuji-nakamura2You have mentioned the future of solid state lighting is GaN on GaN. How far away is that from widespread use throughout the industry?

A It depends on the availability of large, cheap GaN substrates at high volume. If the ammonothermal method could be used for the mass production of GaN bulk crystal growth, it would happen soon.

You have also mentioned lasers as being the future of lighting. How far away is that? Will it eventually displace LED?

A It would take five to 10 years to reduce the cost and improve the performance before it is ready to replace LED.

You are a co-founder of Soraa and you are a professor at UCSB. Which do you find more fulfilling, the corporate life or the academic life?

A Actually, I enjoy both equally.

What is the work culture like at SORAA?

A The work culture at Soraa is great. Folks at Soraa work hard and have a strong sense of ownership over their projects. That ownership empowers many of the employees to look for innovative ways to improve the products they are working on. An engaged and innovative workforce is really important for companies that aim to really differentiate themselves from the competition.

When you were with Nichia, trying to develop the Blue LED, you worked every day without taking a break. What is your daily routine like these days?

A I usually reach the university at 8am and go back to home around 6pm. I do outside work only one day per week.

What are some of the things you hope to achieve through UCSB’s collaboration with CREST?

A Packaging and heat sink. We need special phosphor packaging and heat sink for the laser lighting.

How often do you expect to visit Malaysia?

A Perhaps three times per year?

In much of Asia, the education system is based on rote learning. What are the key things that need to be changed to improve the education system so as to encourage science, discovery and innovation?

A The current goal of Asian education systems is to push students to enter famous universities. Because of this, the education system is based on rote learning with an emphasis almost entirely on test scores. The education system should be revamped be to teach students about how to survive in a society. We need to teach students critical thinking skills.

What advice would you give someone who loves science and aspires to win a Noble prize one day?

A Study many things and take risks when conducting research.