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Brilliant!: Shuji Nakamura And the Revolution in Lighting Technology Hardcover – February 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Australian technology writer Johnstone (Never Mind the Laptops) heralds what he believes will be a revolution in lighting: light emitting diodes, or LEDs, "tiny specks of semiconductor material that shine when hooked up to a voltage." They consume 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours. According to Johnstone, in front of the revolution is Shuji Nakamura, a Japanese scientist who solved a series of difficult technical problems to develop a blue LED bright enough to be used in commercial settings. Johnstone is utterly enamored of Nakamura ("Shuji took off. It was as if he had rockets in his feet like Mighty Atom, his boyhood comic book superhero"), and two section of the book cover his technical triumph and the legal and professional complications that accompanied his departure from his Japanese employer. This section provides an interesting window into the differences between the Japanese and American approaches to scientific research. The book's other sections expound on the present and future uses of LEDs, for which Johnstone is evangelical in his enthusiasm. Since the technical descriptions of the chemical processes that produce blue LED are difficult, in the end, average readers may find Johnstone's infatuation with Nakamura and LEDs hard to share. Illus. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“[A] compelling account of Nakamura’s story, packed with salutary lessons for would-be Edisons.”

Financial Times
 

“[Nakamura] is clearly a great subject for an engaging book, and author Bob Johnstone does not disappoint…he weaves a lucid, captivating narrative around Nakamura's struggles to achieve his luminous dream…Johnstone offers readers much more than a Nakamura biography, for this is also an insightful first look at several key players in a solid-state lighting industry that is already grossing more than $4 billion annually…Brilliant! is a superb introduction to this dramatic story of high technology in action, which continues to this day.”

IEEE Spectrum magazine

 
“The longtime technology reporter…has a passion for uncovering the mysteries of abstruse material science that is unmatched in the popular science press. You don't even have to understand every word he says to appreciate him… His newest book, Brilliant! . . . focuses the narrative on the man most responsible for the explosion in LED lighting that is currently sweeping the globe.”

Salon.com “How the World Works” column

 
“[A]n impeccably researched, comprehensive history of the SSL [solid-state lighting] industry, whose products will revolutionize the way we see the world.”

Daily Yomiuri, Tokyo, Japan  (one of Japan's leading English-language newspapers)


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591024625
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024620
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bob Johnstone (Melbourne, Australia) is the author of Brilliant!: Shuji Nakamura and the Revolution in Lighting Technology; We Were Burning: Japanese Entrepreneurs and the Forging of the Electronic Age; and Never Mind the Laptops: Kids, Computers, and the Transformation of Learning. He has also contributed numerous articles on technology to Forbes, Nature, New Scientist, MIT Technology Review, Wired, and the Far Eastern Economic Review.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Allen on June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I heartily recommend this book for people who are interested in innovation, business, science, technology, etc. The book tells the fascinating story of Nakamura and the impact LEDs are having on the lighting industry.

Part One of the book tells the story of how Nakamura invented the first commercially successful GaN LED. Part Three explains how Nakamura became unwanted at Nichia and how he decided to move to UCSB. Parts Two and Four talk about some of the companies that are using LEDs to make exciting new products. I'll be a nit picker and say the book should be titled "Shuji Nakamura and the *Coming* revolution in Lighting Technology" because the revolution is just starting.

Although LEDs have been around for about four decades and everyone already owns products that incororate them, very few people understand the potential of LEDs and the impact that they will have on lighting over the next few years. The conversion to white LEDs for general lighting is underway. People will want to understand more about this phenomenon as they recognize the impact that LEDs are having on the lighting industry and energy consumption. The good news is that this book will serve as a tutorial for people who want to learn about LEDs.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vance G. Hallman on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant!!! Refreshing!!! Bob Johnstone is correct in espousing Shuji Nakamura as the leader of the LED revolution. Shuji's list of patents and accomplishments in his field far outshine all of his peers put together. Definitely a Nobel Prize in the works for Mr. Nakamura and hopefully a Pulitzer for Mr. Johnstone for his ability to explain this complex subject to the average reader in a true tale of high intrigue! The LED scientific community is still rather small. The competition for the holy grail (replacing the everyday lightbulb) is phenomenal. Bob and Shuji have this unusual, provocative combination that tells the story of this new high tech race. Bob spends quite a few chapters explaining the unusual and life changing ramifications of LED development worlwide. A must read for any investor or those with eco-green concerns!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many people have said that energy conservation is the key to weaning ourselves of foreign oil and dirty coal but how do we do it? This book not only gives you the fascinating story behind the development of the blue LED but also provides a path to help us conserve energy. I would especially recommend this book to anybody who is thinking of starting a green business in 2009 or beyond.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arun Goud on January 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I stumbled upon this book strangely while looking to return a bunch of disappointing CFL bulbs I had ordered from Amazon to replace a busted one in my apartment. I first heard about Shuji Nakamura two years ago as a silent spectator listening to two research associates enthusiastically discuss his glorious achievement (invention of blue LED) and somehow my mind clung to that name. So when I came across this book listing on Amazon's suggested reading section recently I knew I had to grab it.

Nakamura-san is sort of a celebrity among those working on Gallium Nitride based electronics. He is after all the 2nd person to win the Millenium Technology prize (the first being Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web) and is widely considered to be a front-runner for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics someday, possibly along with Nick Holonyak Jr. Even more inspiring is the saga of how working in relative obscurity for Nichia Chemicals in Tokushima, Japan, he almost single-handedly beat more experienced researchers with PhDs around the world in the quest for developing the 1st high brightness blue LED. This when combined with the then well established red and green LEDs was the key to the development of the first white LEDs. The breakthrough was so unexpected that in the words of one Toshiba researcher "Everyone was caught with their pants down".

Here's a breakdown of the book and what I feel about it.
"Brilliant!..." is divided into 4 parts.
1. PART 1 - OUT OF THE BLUE presents a well researched short biography on Nakamura and the history of blue LED development starting from the futile attempts by the American Herb Maruska and his fellow researchers at RCA in the 1960s.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
BRILLIANT! SHUJI NAKAMURA AND THE REVOLUTION IN LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY tells of the evolution of LED technology and how it was stalled over making an LED that would emit the bright blue light needed to make useful white light LEDs - until researcher Shuji Nakamura's key invention which single-handedly created the industry of solid-state lighting. Author Bob Johnstone is the first Western journalist to meet and interview Nakamura, and here provides a powerful blend of science and biography to show how the inventor made his ground-breaking discovery and how LEDs are revolutionizing the world. Any science library strong in invention history needs BRILLIANT!

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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