Awards for innovation in light technology are nothing new for Shuji Nakamura.

Nakamura, a professor of Materials and Electrical & Computer Engineering at UC Santa Barbara, has received the Zayed Future Energy Prize’s Lifetime Achievement award for pioneering the development of white L.E.D. lights, an innovation that will have reduced electricity consumption in the U.S. by an estimated 348 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2027, saving more than $30 billion.

“The 2018 Zayed Future Energy Award recognizes the global impact of solid-state lighting technology on both the climate and the citizens of our planet, and I am honored that my work in this field is again being highlighted,” Nakamura said.

A winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, Nakamura is one of three individuals credited for creating the highly sought bright-blue L.E.D. That advance paved the way for the white L.E.D, technology that is now at the heart of many energy-efficient applications, including interior and exterior lighting, displays and automotive headlamps.

Shuji Nakamura has been a professor of Materials and Electrical & Computer Engineering at the UC Santa Barbara since 2000. He holds more than 200 US patents and over 300 Japanese patents. He is currently the Research Director of the Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics. / Courtesy of

The use of L.E.D. lights has revolutionized energy savings, making it possible to reduce fossil fuel use and carbon footprints. Their durability has also enabled the provision of lighting under inhospitable conditions and in places where traditional energy infrastructure is not available.

Nakamura’s research fits perfectly with the idea that motivated the creation of the prize. The world is in desperate need of innovative solutions to create a new, sustainable energy future. No one knows from where or whom the next great energy solution will come from. Solutions and technologies that could change the world are being developed globally, and the $4 million Zayed Future Energy Prize, managed by Masdar in Abu Dhabi, is ready to recognize and reward innovators like Nakamura.

Nakamura received his award at a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Now in its 10th year, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) global awards program for renewable energy and sustainability pioneers. The prize came to fruition as a result of the vision of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late ruler of Abu Dhabi and founding father of the United Arab Emirates.

At the 2008 World Future Energy Summit, his Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the UAE, announced The Zayed Future Energy Prize, to honor his father’s legacy of environmental stewardship.

The prize annually recognizes innovations and leadership in sustainability achieved by large corporations, small and medium enterprises, nonprofit organizations, dedicated individuals and high schools from five different world regions.

Previous winners include former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Toyota Motor Corp. and Bronx Design & Construction Academy.


Stephanie Pernett
Stephanie has been a part of the Nexus since her freshman year and became the science editor her sophomore year. She is pretty much a kid at heart since she’s always playing games of any kind and still collects Yu-Gi-Oh cards.