Blue laser book with Shuji Nakamura – how this book came about

The Blue Laser Diode, by Shuji Nakamura and Gerhard Fasol, Springer Verlag

The story and physics background of the discovery and development of the GaN LEDs and lasers

Since I have been working for many years on GaAs research, as soon as I heard Shuji Nakamura’s talk at one of Japan’s applied physics conferences, I understood the importance, visited Shuji Nakamura in Anan where he was working at Nichia Kagaku Kougiyou, and became friends with Shuji Nakamura. Shuji Nakamura also introduced me over curry lunch to Founder and Chairman Nobuo Ogawa (小川 信雄), who at that time was about 83 years old.

I asked Chairman Nobuo Ogawa why he had agreed to pay for Shuji Nakamura’s proposed research on GaN blue LEDs, and pay for Shuji Nakamura learn MOCVD at the University of Florida in Professor Ramaswamy’s group. Nobuo Ogawa’s answer: “How did you chose your wife?”

I wrote a number of articles about Shuji Nakamura’s development of GaN LEDs and lasers in SCIENCE Magazine and the Deutsche Physikalische Blätter.

“Physikalische Blätter” initially rejected the first report on GaN LEDs – German experts had never heard about this discovery before, therefore rejected it as incredible

I also wrote an article for the Journal of the German Physical Society, at that time “Physikalische Blätter”, for which I was regularly writing articles and reports from Japan. The Editor initially rejected my article. He told me that he had consulted with German experts, and these experts had told him that they had never heard about a successful blue GaN LED, and that this was therefore impossible, and wrong. The Editor asked me rhetorically: “Do you think these German experts are wrong?” – I answered “Yes, they are wrong – you should publish this article”, and sent him some background information in support of my article. He finally published the article, and you can find it online here:

  • Gerhard Fasol: "Die blaue GaN Leuchtdiode: Auftakt für einen neuen Industriezweig (The blue GaN light emitting diode: the beginning of a new industry)" Physikalische Blätter, 51, p. 925-926 (October 1995)
  • Gerhard Fasol: "Japanische Herbstkonferenzen in Angewandter Physics (Japan’s autumn conferences on applied physics)" Physikalische Blätter, 50, p. 1118-1119 (December 1994) (my first report on Shuji Nakamura’s GaN work in Germany’s Physikalische Blätter)

Through my articles in Science Magazine and Physikalische Blätter, Claus Ascheron, Physics Editor of Springer Verlag became aware of my work in Tokyo, and asked me if I can help him win Shuji Nakamura’s agreement to write a book on his GaN work.

Blue laser book – how it came about

Claus Ascheron and myself went to visit Shuji Nakamura, and we had a lunch with Shuji Nakamura, Chairman Nobuo Ogawa, Claus Ascheron and myself. During lunch Claus Ascheron asked Shuji Nakamura, if he would be interested to write a book for Springer Verlag. Shuji agreed, but said that he needs Chairman Ogawa’s agreement. He asked Chairman Ogawa straight away, and Chairman Ogawa said “No. You can’t write this book, I don’t give my permission”. So I intervened and asked Chairman Ogawa for the reason of this refusal. Chairman Ogawa said: “Nakamura-san is researcher, he must do research and develop new products, he cannot waste his time writing books”. So I offered to help as a co-author, so that this would take less of Shuji Nakamura’s time. Chairman Ogawa agreed to this arrangement, and gave his permission.

As a result, Shuji Nakamura and myself worked many night-sessions over Christmas and New Year 1996/1997, and the first edition of the Blue GaN Laser book was published in January 1997, to be ready for the annual Book Fair in Frankfurt.

  • "The Blue Laser Diode : The Complete Story" (2nd Edition),
    S. Nakamura, S. Pearton, G. Fasol
    (Springer-Verlag, October 2000, ISBN 3-540-66505-6)
    Press here to order “The blue laser diode” from

  • "The Blue Laser Diode – GaN based light emitters and lasers" (1st Edition),
    S. Nakamura, G. Fasol
    (Springer-Verlag, January 1997, ISBN 987-3-662-03464-4)

You can also read some of the background of Shuji Nakamura’s invention and the development of the solid state lighting industry in our Solid State Lighting report.

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