Dr Ataul Habib Khalid
Lecturer in sensors and sensor systems
The 2014 Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to three scientists in Japan and the US for the invention of blue light emitting diodes (LEDs). They are Professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura who made the first blue LEDs in the early 1990s.
It would be beneficial to non-expert readers to learn briefly about this light emitting device technology.
Gallium nitride is a semiconductor material where its electrical properties can be changed to positive and negative type i.e. p-type or n-type material. The problem was in making good p-type material that would ensure a good semiconductor device with p- and n-type material to form a light emitting diode or LED.
Nakamura, the inventor of this LED, not only solved the problem, but also developed an industrial process to achieve a high-power blue light emitting device. All white LEDs are in fact blue light devices with a suitable phosphorus coating that absorb the blue light and re-emit it as white light.
I was attending an international semiconductor conference in the University of California, Santa Barbara, where Professor Shuji Nakamura is a faculty member, and he gave a talk about his Noble Prize winning a year earlier in 2014. The meeting hall was full to its capacity and many people were standing patiently at the back to listen to what Nakumura had to say.
Professor Nakumura glanced over the crowded hall and said that a long time ago, he had seen similar sorts of crowded halls when renowned researchers were presenting their research on the blue light emitting diodes made from a different semiconductor material than the one he was working, gallium nitride (GaN). He said that in those days, he would rarely see anybody in the halls where he used to present his work because no one believed that a blue light emitting diode was possible in GaN material. So many people had tried before and failed, and as a result, all efforts and money was directed elsewhere; people were making claims but without real success.
Professor Nakumura questioned himself many times as to why he was working in an area where there was no apparent prospects of success. “But then, I needed a PhD,” he added, “and it was not possible without publications. So it was easier to publish my research as there was no competition for gallium nitride work”, with tongue firmly in cheek!
In reality it was his perseverance and hard work that finally delivered the desired blue light emitting device, which is the basis of the white solid-state lights around us.
The biggest impact of their work can be seen in the new generation of bright, energy-efficient white lamps, as well as colour LED screens of all gadgets around us. We are all now used to having these energy-saving, yet highly bright and versatile lights everywhere, from our homes to our streets.
The white LED light, or solid state light source, has had a revolutionary impact that is even visible from satellite pictures taken by astronauts in space.
The other big impact of this invention is just becoming apparent and that is how the African continent will light up to its population across its small towns to smallest of villages. With the increasing needs for lighting solutions in Africa, a consensus is now being reached on the need to have LED lights which are environmentally safe but most importantly, highly energy efficient and can run on solar charged batteries, hence without the grid supplied electricity (https://www.lightingafrica.org/).
The International Association of Ahmadi Architects & Engineers (IAAAE) is an international organisation that has a dedicated department, Alternative Energy Committee (AEC) that is doing exactly that in Africa.
Hazrat Hafiz Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIIrh said in his tour of Africa in 1970:
“I foresee – as indeed many people do now – an even richer future for you. A strange wind blows today, promising change and hope, inducing a new awareness, new enterprises, and, if I may add, pointing to new evidences of divine involvement in your destiny.” (https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Africa-Speaks.pdf)
It is very interesting to see an amazing evidence in the destiny of Africa. I remember thinking about the developments in Africa – I used to wonder how it would even happen because the development of a country needs the infrastructure of communications, electrical grid for power transport and roads for human and goods transportation. Yet, every new technological development points towards the “divine involvement” for the destiny of Africa.
The advent of mobile phones eliminated the telephony cable infrastructure and the inventions of solar electricity panels removed the need to install electrical grids to transport the power. And white LEDs have solved the lighting issue that can be sustained with the solar charged batteries.
One can now foresee the fast technological developments of electrical vehicles, land based and airborne, that will eventually solve the transportation problems in Africa!
However, the most important thing that will enable this divine destiny is the spiritual light that will change the hearts, and we know that light is shining brightly without any sunset on Africa. This light is the message of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas that is spreading all over Africa through MTA and other means – it is truly evidence of divine involvement.